If the infancy of Jesus Christ is to provide for us a model of the way in which we are to love our Savior, then it is entirely possible that there is more to be learned as well. Perhaps even the Theological Virtues are covered: Faith, Hope, and Love (CCC 1812). Certainly we have discussed holy love previously. In this column, I wish to reflect upon the holy virtue of faith in light of Christ’s infancy.
When we talk about the holy virtue of faith, we oftentimes intersperse other words. The ideal of faith is often described as blind, or unquestioning. This can lead to certain unfortunate interpretations. Does this mean that we should not ask questions or read the Catechism? Of course not - God gave you a brilliant, beautiful brain with a rational intellect so that you could come to know him. Then it becomes necessary to separate the notion of the practice of faith which is the road by which we travel toward the exercise of the holy virtue of faith. From the Catechism, we read that it is by the holy virtue of faith that man “freely commits his entire self to God”. (CCC 1814) I don’t know about you, but I certainly have quite a ways to go in this regard, and this is why Holy Mother Church recommends that we pray daily for an increase in the virtues of faith, hope, and love.
This is all well and good, but what does any of this have to do with the infancy of Christ? By the free committing of one’s entire self to God, we give all that we are without question, or without hesitation, since we know that “everything helps to secure the good of those who love God” (Rom 8:28). In what way might a small child teach us about full surrender? Ask any parent. There is a period in the life of a child where they could set their kid on top of a table, step ten feet back, and call to the child that they might run to them; and the child will do exactly that. At no point do they ask of themselves what will happen if they keep running and they run out of table, why their parent would have put them on a table in the first place, or what the parent is trying to prove - they will simply do what is asked with a great love in their heart and the knowledge that their parent would never ask them to do anything that wasn’t good. It is this faith to which we are called. Joy and reckless abandon in answer to God’s action in our lives as He works toward our growth in holiness and sanctification.
“Perhaps the sole ends of the priesthood are to say Mass, and to recite the Office, and then to live like seculars ? No, the end for which God has instituted the priesthood has been to appoint on earth public persons to watch over the honor of his divine majesty, and to procure the salvation of souls.”
St Alphonsus Liguori
What a wonderful gift, the Eucharist - and on the subject of a gift so great as to instill an infinitude of graces it would be easy to fill volumes. Instead, I will concentrate on one thing: the gift of this relationship to which we are called by virtue of the institution of this Sacrament.
St. Alphonsus Liguori makes a very interesting point in “The Incarnation, Birth, and Infancy of Our Lord Jesus Christ” - that the very essense of the relationship God desires to have with us is revealed in the means by which Jesus is presented to us. How did He come, exactly? As a baby. I want you to think about this for a second - what human being with an intact heart can help but to fall in love with a baby? There is not a person alive which does not melt when greeted with a baby’s smile, and return one in kind. And what is our first instinct when we see them? To hold them, to embrace them. So, then, it is telling that Jesus did not choose to come to us already incarnate as a grown man, in regal clothes, with a golden crown… but as a helpless baby that we cannot resist loving. And for those of you who are parents (for those who are not, you have only to ask those who are) - is there any worse feeling that of disappointing one of these little ones? This is the relationship with Jesus Christ to which we are called; St. Josemaria Escriva put it best - that we must fall madly in love with Him if we are to know Him.
This unfathomable humility of our Lord Jesus Christ is proven to us, I believe, in no place any more strongly than in the Eucharist. Father says the words of consecration, and ordinary bread and wine are literally and truly transformed right before our eyes, and Jesus appears on the altar under this humble disguise. But why the disguise? Why the mystery of the Eucharist? Every single time, without fail, when God, or a heavenly messenger appears on His behalf, among the very first things said is what? Be not afraid. Why? Why did Adam and Eve hide from God? Because a consequence of original sin, is that when we are granted the Beatific Vision - when we see God, we cannot help but instantly recall every single occasion on which we have hurt Him by our sins, and our heart breaks. Even the Virgin Mother, shielded from the stain of original sin by the Immaculate Conception, when she beheld the angel of the Lord in the Gospel of Luke - what must he say? “Do not be afraid: thou has found favor in the sight of God”. Though sinless, she still in her humility knew how small she was before the Lord, and required encouragement. How much more encouragement do we need, who are not immaculately conceived? Be not afraid, he says, to draw near. What an amazing gift, this love, this relationship to which we are called! The only fear we ought feel, then, is that we may harm or even to lose this relationship by our sin. Jesus does not want to rule your kingdom, your town, or your village. Jesus wants reign of your heart, and so He is content to come to us as a helpless baby so that we may draw near and to fall in love, and then turn us into living tabernacles by our reception of Him under the humble disguise of bread and wine that He may live in us and in so doing to instill graces and mend our brokenness so that He may be made known to others by His living in us.
Make frequent confessions. Visit Him often. Make fervent and worthy communions. Join I and St. Josemaria Escriva in praying that we all may fall more madly in love with Him with every breath we take.
God bless you. Please pray for me.
I just received the following message…
Please pray for the people of Mosul, especially Christians and Dominicans in the city. International news sources have reported that Islamic militants overran Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, during the past day.
The following is a rough translation of a message received today from a Dominican who in a convent in Mosul:
Bad news. I write you in a critical and apocalyptic situation of violence in Mosul. Most of the inhabitants of the city have already abandoned their houses and fled into the villages and are sleeping in the open without anything to eat or drink. Many thousands of armed men from the Islamic Groups of Da’ash have attacked the city of Mosul for the last two days. They have assassinated adults and children. The bodies have been left in the streets and in the houses by the hundreds, without pity. The regular forces and the army have also fled the city, along with the governor. In the mosques, they cry “Allah Akbar, long live the Islamic State.” Qaraqosh is overflowing with refugees of all kinds, without food or lodging. The check points and the Kurdish forces are blocking innumerable refugees from entering Kurdistan. What we are living and what we have seen over the last two days is horrible and catastrophic. The priory of Mar Behnam and other churches fell into the hands of the rebels this morning… . and now they have come here and entered Qaraqosh five minutes ago, and we are now surrounded and threatened with death … . pray for us. I’m sorry that I can’t continue … They are not far from our convent … .
Don’t reply… .
This message is being sent out to the entire province. Superiors are asked to share this information with those who do not use email.
Very Rev. Darren Pierre, O.P.
Vicar Provincial and Socius
Province of St. Joseph
141 East 65th Street
New York, NY 10065
“This audacity of God who entrusts himself to human beings – who, conscious of our weaknesses, nonetheless considers men capable of acting and being present in his stead – this audacity of God is the true grandeur concealed in the word “priesthood”. That God thinks that we are capable of this; that in this way he calls men to his service and thus from within binds himself to them: this is what we wanted to reflect upon and appreciate anew over the course of the past year. We wanted to reawaken our joy at how close God is to us, and our gratitude for the fact that he entrusts himself to our infirmities; that he guides and sustains us daily.”
Pope Benedict XVI, at the Mass concluding the Year for Priests. Read more here.
source of this Latin principle semina virtutum, thanks
Aquinas. ”Semina virtutum” translates as “seeds of virtue”, and refers to the natural moral inclinations which every human being has (“and this shows that the obligations of the law are written in their hearts; their conscience utters its own testimony”, Romans 2:15) which can be nurtured until they become true habits of virtue. I thought it was a good name for this tumblr, because I believe firmly in the inherent goodness of all people.
Seminarian word of the day: Wirkungsgeschichte
And apparently it slides open and there’s candles and a Latin pamphlet. I think its for when the priest does the blessing of the sick, or the last rights. But three pages in, there is a pentagram. What the heck!?
It’s called a sick call set, and it’s for exactly this.
Dunno about the pentagram. That’s weird.
The Kalam Cosmological Argument.