lundi, juin 01, 2009

Si scires donum Dei

Sermon for Pentecost Sunday

Si scires donum Dei! If thou didst know the gift of God!

How ignorant are we of the things of God! We are certainly ignorant by nature, because God is a hidden God – Deus absconditus – as Isaiah says. We are ignorant of the things of God because our intelligence is limited while God is infinite. Yet, we know that our end and our perfection is the knowledge of God and we have seen during the past two weeks that only this knowledge can give true happiness. At this point, it appears that our end is not proportionate to our nature. For Saint Thomas Aquinas, this means that there is a certain necessity for a Revelation, and again, when we speak of necessity about God, it is always a relative necessity as God is totally free. The first Council of the Vatican would confirm the teaching of Saint Thomas when it stated that the Revelation is necessary because God has wanted to give men a supernatural end.
So, God is a hidden God, but He also is a revealed God – revelatus Deus. With the Revelation, we have now the knowledge of our end and the knowledge of the means that we must necessarily use in order to reach our end. But God remains hidden even in His Revelation. In fact, as Pascal says, the more God is disclosed, the more obscured God becomes. It is a paradox but it makes sense if you think about this. The Revelation and the Grace, which are both supernatural, do not suppress our nature and its way of operating, but rather elevate and sublimate it. In other words, the Revelation does not exempt us from thinking but rather calls us, encourages us and motivates us to think more. This fact has been well expressed by Saint Anselm with his famous “Fides quaerens intellectum” – Faith seeking understanding. Saint Augustine had already said: “Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.”
The Revelation is the unveiling of the mysteries of God, in the meaning that it tells us about the existence of these mysteries. The Revelation is not the explanation of these mysteries. So, when I believe, out of faith, I acknowledge the existence of mysteries, such as the Trinity, the Incarnation or the Eucharist. But when I believe, I also acknowledge that I cannot understand them. God is now revealed to me, and God is still a mystery to me. The more God is disclosed, the more obscured God becomes. For Pascal, the descent of Deus revelatus-absconditus culminates in the Eucharist, which is the last hiding place where God can be, as Father McDade explains. The Faith is the Eucharist is precisely what separates true believers from many other Christians. Pascal writes that the veil of nature which covers God has been pierced by several non-believers, who, as St Paul says, ‘have recognized an invisible God by visible nature’ (Rom 1.20). Heretical Christians have known him through his humanity and adore Jesus Christ, God and man. But to recognize him under the species of bread, that is the distinguishing mark of Catholics alone: we are the only ones whom God enlightens to that extent.
It is not a coincidence if Jesus speaks about the Paraclete that the Father will send in His name during the last Supper when He institutes the Sacrament of the Eucharist. He will teach you all things! All things!
The Holy Ghost is truly the gift of the Father who reveals to us the hidden things about God. It is only with humility and gratitude that we can receive Him. He allows us to accept the mysteries of God and to understand that we cannot understand them. The great temptation would be to rationalize the mysteries and to try to find an explanation to all things. That is precisely the error of our Protestant brothers after Luther, especially on the subject of the Eucharist. When you realize that you cannot understand a thing, you are inclined to deny it.
But be aware, dear Brethren, that it is also a temptation for you, maybe not on the subject of the Eucharist or of any great truth revealed by God and taught by the Church, but about more practical involvements of faith in your daily life. There are laws and rules in the spiritual life that we must know and accept in order to grow in holiness. They have been well explained by the Saints and the Doctors of the Church. They come from the Holy Ghost who teaches us all things. It is also with gratitude and humility that we should receive them and then, put them into practice. Denying them is ignoring the gift of God. Many –and I am speaking now about faithful Catholics – ignore the gift of God, because they are still full of themselves, instead of God. Be renewed in the Spirit, Saint Paul says. We have to accept the work of renovation that the Spirit of God wants to perform in us, and that supposes a total abandon of ourselves. This is mainly the object of our preaching throughout the year, based upon the teaching of the great masters of spiritual life. My desire and my wish is that we finally end by understanding it. If thou didst know the gift of God!
The Church applies the words of the Scripture about Wisdom to Our Blessed Mother. I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope. She has a role of educator. She is the beginning of our supernatural education. From her we can learn how to receive the teaching of the Holy Spirit. It is first the teaching of faith, which is an intellectual knowledge. It is also the teaching of a way of living that must be in accordance to our faith: the practice of the virtues. It is what we receive with the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, who is Himself the Gift of God – Donum Dei. If thou didst know the gift of God! May Our lady help us to know and to receive Him.

1 commentaire:

RAnn a dit…

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