Monday, September 06, 2010

Un-"American Beauty"

There is a different sort of beauty in the faces, places, sounds, and spaces of ancient Christians. They seem to be clothed with a different aura in contrast to the glossy, corporate smiles, the vacuous eyes, the manicured coifs, and the adulterated children of American Christianity. For a long while I've suspected the American Jesus to be Anti-Christ. We who have been baptized into the American Jesus have put on the American Jesus from whence comes "American Beauty."

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Thy Will Be Done

The remedy is severe, but it needed nothing less to free us from ourselves and to storm the defensive walls of our pride.  We want to die, but to die without any pain and in full health.  We want to be tested, but only while looking on with conscious superiority to the trial.  It is a saying of the old lawyers with respect to donations: You cannot both give and keep.  We must give all or nothing when God asks it.  If we do not have courage to give, at least we can let him take.  ~Archbishop Francois Fenelon
We cannot give and keep.  But it's not a choice between the two for the Christian either, for even if we cannot give, we still cannot keep.  Refusal to give leaves only one option: to allow, to suffer, to accept, to say "Let it be" to His takings, which effectively raises "letting God" above "giving to God."  And so we honor the Blessed Virgin, not for giving God her womb as a grandiose, ego-filled gesture of "self-sacrifice" but for the smallness of her Fiat.  So we honor Christ's Fiat at Gethsemane, for his self-offering is really giving to God the Father an unconditional license to take all.  How easy and light is this burden, and yet how difficult and heavy!  The mystery of Fenelon's observation is that it may require more, not less, courage to let him take.