instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Short takes

During today's Offertory, we sang "Like a Child Rests," with the Psalm 131-inspired refrain,
Like a child rests in its mothers arms,
So will I rest in you.
Towards the end of the Offertory, a mother made her way from one of the front pews down the side aisle with a squalling infant in her arms. And I thought that's about right: we rest in God for a while, then we squall.

Speaking of children, I was thinking about the way so many of the kings of Israel and Judah outlived their virtue. Even the ones who started out okay wound up, if not completely venal (Saul, Solomon), then at least doing some really bad (David) or boneheaded (Jehosaphat) things.

Hence, perhaps, Jesus' solemn teaching, "Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven." Each day we presume we've got the hang of this discipleship, each day we don't humble ourselves like that child, is a day we grow older, meaning closer to outliving the grace God has given us.

I'm not sure where the expression "Every man his own pope" came from, but I think Catholics would do well to avoid using it while criticizing Protestant doctrines.

If anything, the expression reflects a Protestant misunderstanding of the Catholic doctrine of the papacy, a misunderstanding that regards the pope as a sovereign, free to promulgate whatever doctrines he chooses.

But of course, the Catholic Church teaches neither "sola pontifex" nor "sola Scriptura for popes," which means that, whatever sola Scriptura entails, it doesn't make every man his own pope. Every man his own church, perhaps, but the pope exists only within the Church, which means only within the Church's Tradition.

The celebration of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist makes us present at Calvary.

Good news for those Apostles who fled from the Garden of Gethsemane. They were able to be sacramentally present later on, a sort of spiritual mulligan. (And in the end, they all paid for their faithfulness with their lives. Only the one who was physically present died peacefully.)

For those of us who had no opportunity to choose physical presence at the foot of the Cross, we should understand that sacramental presence is no less real than physical presence. Which means we are really present as Jesus says, "Behold your Mother."

The Eucharist makes devotion to Mary an integral part of the Faith.