Consecrated to the Heart of the Redeemer under the patronage of the Theotokos and Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

21 April 2013

The Liturgy: Heaven On Earth

The Easter season is a fifty-day reminder of how good the Church has it.  At this and every Mass we participate in the liturgy of heaven.  Hear how the Book of Revelation describes that liturgy.  The Father is seated upon His throne.  The Lamb is present: the crucified and risen Christ, the Priest who offers and the Victim who is offered.  The Holy Spirit is the life-giving stream that flows from the throne, often depicted in seven rivulets that are the Sacraments.  Standing around the Trinitarian throne are all the heavenly powers, the four living beings who embody all creation, the twenty-four elders who symbolize the Old and New Covenants, and the 144,000 who epitomize the New People of God.  Notable among the sacred throng are the martyrs, Mary, the Bride of the Lamb, and those whom John described as the “great multitude, which no one could count,” clad in white robes and holding palm branches.  Having survived “the time of great distress” (otherwise known as “life”), the multitude unceasingly worships God and enjoys His protection, consolation, and nourishment.

That is the Church’s situation here and now, if we but awaken ourselves to it and strive to live in it—both in the current context of the sacred liturgy and in the mission field that we know as the home, the workplace, the school, or any other wayside shrine that God enlivens when we bring Him there.  But we can’t become the light to the Gentiles and the instrument of salvation unless we bring ourselves here, to “charge and sync” ourselves with the Source of our power: God’s Word, God’s Bread, and God’s Company.  Here is where we receive and affirm our deepest identity in Christ.  Here is where all creation finds its origin and purpose.  Here is heaven on earth!

Now, I’d have my head in the sand if I figured that all of you are totally on board with this idea.  Maybe in theory the world of time is shot through with eternity, but the events of the past week, in Boston and elsewhere, look like scathing evidence to the contrary.  And you could share with me some reasons why your lives don’t resemble the heavenly liturgy.  Me too.

It is important to remember that the Act of Faith, like every other human choice, is an act of the will that relies upon the information presented to it by the intellect.  Our aversion to suffering is natural, but it  cannot deter us from confessing the goodness of God in salvation history and in our own lives.  While there is no pat answer to the mystery of moral and physical evil, the Catechism reminds us that “God in His almighty providence can bring a good from the consequences of an evil, even a moral evil, caused by His creatures,” for Christ’s glorification and man’s redemption came about precisely by His Passion and Death (312).

All praise and thanksgiving to God for the sacred Liturgy, in which we raise up all joys and sufferings in union with our Redeemer, who in return, gives us His very Self to sustain us along life’s journey, awaiting His full coming in glory and our life in His tender embrace!

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