Monday, September 29, 2014

Through A Glass Darkly

"For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face.  Now I know in part, but then shall I know even as I am known." 1 Corinthians 13:12

One of the most famous passages in modern thought is from the great sociologist Max Weber.  He laments that a de-enchantment of the world--a virtual "iron cage"-- has followed the progress of science, industry and the technocratic efficiency of the modern world.  In many ways what Weber was describing was the historical eclipse of a deeply Catholic culture that united the bonds of the past, the wonder of the natural world and the ever-present sense of the supernatural.

Max Weber's "iron cage"

While Weber was undoubtedly describing something tangible about the "feel" of life in the modern world, we must never lose sight that we stand with St. Paul, and can still peer "through a glass darkly".  As St. Paul would urge us: the world is still enchanted, and all of our actions reverberate into the future and even into eternity.  We are only dimly aware of the true value and meaning of our words and actions, but there are breath-taking things going on around us.  This is most apparent in the case of the powers entrusted to the Church and her sacred ministers.  Jesus Christ really does come down onto our altars at the mere words of consecration during Holy Mass, and He is always attended at the altar by angels who join us in proclaiming the thrice-holy God, "Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus".  These are every day miracles, and yet we don't see them.  Every day men and women are freed from the grasping clutch of demons, as a good confession absolves sin and the power that the sin had given demons against the poor sinner.  The demons were once attached to the sinner, even intimate, and now they stand far off.

Now there are some wonders that only come around once a year.  Did you know that on Good Friday the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is halted and there is a great hush between heaven and earth?  The unimaginable graces that flow from the re-presentation of Calvary at Holy Mass are paused as the Church and the heavenly host commemorate the death of our Lord.  For a brief time the great Jacob's Ladder between heaven and earth is seldom travelled.  How humble is our God to honor the great feasts of the Church calendar even in Heaven!

The Great Ladder between Heaven and Earth

If we could only see in our own lives how our choices are pregnant with meaning.  If we could only see as the heavenly host do, we would see that every thing is magnified beyond our dim apprehension.  When we see a mother on the street with her baby, we may feel gratified to see her motherhood, but imagine the delight that our Lord takes when she loves as a mother should.  When we go hiking in the woods we may sing the Ave Maria or Gloria, and feel comfort even if it's poorly sung, but you would be shocked if you knew how delighted our blessed forbears are in observing such simple acts by their progeny. Finally, a man just beginning this ministry may feel that his time has been in vain if he doesn't have any meaningful encounters with passers-by, but what is the view of Heaven?  Is he a fool for walking the streets like that?  Are his prayers and sacrifices wasted?  No, he's a faithful son who should trust in divine providence, and know that the gentle gaze of Heaven follows his very step.

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