Saturday, June 28
Happy New Year!
In realted news, El Greco is awesome.
The Jubilee Year of St. Paul began today with Vespers at... St. Paul's Outside the Walls.
Pope Benedict remembered the Apostle Paul in the following way:
His faith is the experience of being loved by Jesus Christ in a completely personal way; it is the awareness of the fact that Christ has faced death not for some anonymous person, but out of love for him - for Paul - and that, as the Risen One, he still loves him. Christ gave himself up for him. His faith comes from being transfixed by the love of Jesus Christ, a love that shakes him to his core and transforms him. His faith is not a theory, an opinion about God and the world. His faith is the impact of the love of God on his heart. And thus his faith is itself love for Jesus Christ.
This is very beautiful. Just a few days ago, I was speaking with a friend about one of my deepest annoyances--the reduction of Christianity, or in particular of Catholicism, to a series of proprieties: what prayers to say when, what rituals to do how, what theological opinions to hold, what political aspirations to pursue, etc. etc. These things are important enough--that is, they are relatively important: they are important relative to or insofar as they foster an actual and interpersonal relationship with Jesus Christ, who is God made Personal. That relationship, and not the observance of any nicety, is salvation.
Often enough, though thankfully not that often, some mistake observing the niceties as somehow being the essence of Catholicism. Of course, Catholicism is not a useful tool which tells us how to act and think; it is salvation through personal communion with Christ through the Body of Christ, both Church and Eucharist. The reduction of Catholicism to a set of proprieties is particularly ironic, given the fact that Christ himself--to quote the Man of the Year himself--is a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. Jesus Christ is a scandal, so great is his love and so self-abasing his humility. May we succeed in appropriating his self-destroying humility and redeeming love, becoming "scandals" of God's love ourselves. Or may we at least be closer to doing so by the end of the year.