Thursday, May 17, 2012

O, happy fault.

The glorious promise is this: Christ is both human and divine. Though fully human, he did not sin. The painful reality is this: The Church is both human and divine.  Though divine, her children sin.

And thus it shall ever be until the end of all things. After all, our sin is precisely why Christ took on human nature, lived it, breathed it, but did not give in to temptations. "O, happy fault..."

But when we approach him, we can only do so in the community of sinners, "of whom I am the chief." We compass each other about like a swarm of locusts. We tread on each other and eat each other alive.

In the great wisdom of the Creator, however, we cannot reach him alone. We want so much to break free of the swarm and run onwards alone, but we can only go together. That means, in plain terms, that we are on a pilgrim way full of other pilgrims who will hurt us.

Perhaps they hurt most when they wear the semblance of authority. When the person you love most and want to trust most hits you hard, the world falls to pieces. When that person is a minister or layman of authority in your local Church, the Church seems to fall to pieces, too. The promise of Christ, though, is that the Church will endure. She may be ravaged, but the gates of hell will not prevail. Her own children cannot destroy her.

How can we still sing "O, happy fault, O, necessary sin of Adam"? What possible joy can we find in this state: where the leaders of the pilgrims can beat them to death with bureaucracy or worse?

The answer is this: We can find ALL JOY in this.

O, happy fault. If I was not prone to pride and temper, I would not have You, my King. If your minister had not betrayed me, I would not have You. If your enemies had not whispered in secret against me, I would not have you. If they did not need Your mercy, I would not have received your mercy.

O, happy fault. If I had not crucified my King, He would not now forgive me.

Image source.


Clare Krishan said...

Appreciate you're posting the artwork,so fitting. And thanks for your reflection, It fell in my lap just when I needed it (quelle surprise!) experiencing some qualms for spending so much time (while I'm cooped up indoors with severe seasonal allergies obsessing over matching details of Rodin's masterpiece "Gates of Hell" with their possible inspirational elements in Dante's inferno and Michelangelo's Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel. I find myself drawn to the mystery of kenosis and spirituality of Holy Saturday. I suppose my fear is grounded in my autodidactic attempts to imbibe philosophy, trying to square the circle of my expressive art appreciating temperament and the call to holiness (treading the fine line of human dignity in honesty for man's depravities - particularly the Fatima message re: sins of the flesh, shudder)
I've read there's controversies in positions von Balthasar and Adrienne von Speyr took on Jesus's peak suffering of abandonment being not in the Garden of Gethsemene as Scripture evidences, but in the silence of the sepulchre. Can you point me to resources that would help me parse such arguments and avoid stumbling into error? I'm drawn to seeking spiritual direction from a religious family with whom I participated in the Ignation Spiritual Excercises (they taught that the Agony in the Garden was the apex of Christ's suffering Passion) whereas the Carmelite influences of JPII life have also benefited my understanding very much, that's how I think I found your blog through a post on Edith Stein. Pls excuse the lengthy tangential excursion to my main point - an expression of gratitude!

Thanks and cheerio!

Clare Krishan said...

while the famous negative image on the Holy Face on the Shroud of Turin was first photographically captured in 1898,

I am struck that perhaps an artist with Rodin's gifts may have arrived at a similar conception of the mysterious properties of light and dark in his small scale clay maquettes for the massive edifice, Google 'image' here:

(first cast in bronze
posthumously in 1929 for the Rodin Museum here in Philly)

Perhaps you see the resemblance also?

An intriguing thought, no?

Rodin was no saint, a religious rebel indeed, who offended the sensibilities of many contemporaries including his friend, St. Julian Eymard. And yet...

His incarnate soul couldn't fail to honored faithfully the traditional forms of sculpture and architectural embellishment that have communicated the eternal truths since they were rediscovered in Renaissance humanism. My 'theory' or 'take' is that the Gates of Hell is Rodin's imaginative extension in 3-D of events prior to Christ's celestial entrance above the altar in Michelangelo's 2-D version in the Sistine Chapel. Note the similarities of rectangular stature in the main figure and the scale of "The Thinker" in relation to the lintel (or "threshold" to use JPIIs image) of the door corresponds with the same proportions of the breadth of the Sistine Chapel altar to the resurrected Christ at his triumphant Second Coming.

The other well-known figures amongst the damned, Ugolino (similar to the Vatican's Laocoon) and Paola & Francesca (the Kiss) appear diametrically oppposed roughly corresponding to the bearded mouth of the Holy Face - if you will, a kind of Arcimboldo-esque mask composed of the perishable fruits of man's all too fallible humanity, whose actions fail to speak as Christ, the logos, Would Rodin know enough metaphysics to make such a bold statement about contravening the natural law? I'm not sure, but Arcimboldo painted portraits composed out of only vegetables to perhaps make the same point: 'Vanity vanity...' 'Dust to dust...' etc.
If nothing else, this mental image helps me to develop zeal for the souls of the faithful departed in purgatory and pray for them this Pfingsten (German for Pentecost, related to Unbefleckte Empfängnis, the Immaculate Conception - Mary, like the big W in the heist-caper movie "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" perhaps she's the location of the Treasure signified by the massive M hidden in broad daylight atop Rodin's magnum opus?

Pray for all those who admire such art that it may awaken in them the quest for eternal truth and that they may find satisfying answers to their queries among we the faithful tasked with supplying a reason for our hope!
"parati semper ad satisfactionem omni poscenti vos rationem de ea, quæ in vobis est, spe." 1 Pet 3:15