Tag Archives: Christ

Reflection: Solar Iconography

Walking day in and day out for hours on end a Pilgrim experiences the intensity of the sun. It is so strong that a Pilgrim must keep drinking water to avoid dehydration, and applying sunscreen, which offers protection. However when I walked into the cathedral at Leon all of a sudden the sun took on a mystical dimension. The cathedral is built on an east-west orientation with the altar at the eastern apse so priest and people alike face the Risen Lord at the celebration of the Mass. They literally pray ad orientem facing the rising sun. The sun draws the whole universe in the praise of God who dwells in Inaccessible Light. Therefore the light from the sun is the closest things to the Celestial Jerusalem where God lives in inaccessible light, hidden from human eyes. As the day moves forward the sun then illuminates the southern wall of the nave with the warm colors of the saints and doctors of the church. The light from the southern side figures illuminates the north wall of the nave where the prophets are depicted with dark blues because the prophets did not experience the Light but advanced towards the Light because their prophecies held the mystery of Christ the Light revealed in these last days in the mystery of the Incarnation. Each morning as we start our walk in the darkness we anticipated the beauty of the eastern skies. Lumen Christi! Light of Christ! Deo Gratias

Reflection, Day 12: The Wonder of a Starry Night

We left Burgos at 5 am in order to experience the Campostella, that is, the field of stars. We were disappointed because the urban lights hid the splendor of the starry night from our eyes.  However the morning we left the little village of hontanos we were not disappointed.

The starry night blanketed itself over us. The stars were so radiant and beautiful that one’s spirit soared.  As the morning began to dawn the light of the stars began to diminish until only the morning star was shining brightly in the sky. My thoughts turned to the exultet of the great Easter vigil: may Christ that Morning Star who came back from the dead find this light still burning. The starry night of the Campostella evoked within my heart the beauty of the Easter Vigil at Saint Benedict.

The deacon brings the Paschal candle into the Sanctuary, proclaiming, "Lumen Christi!" during the Easter Vigil, Saint Benedict Catholic Church, Richmond Virginia, April 19, 2014.

The deacon brings the Paschal candle into the Sanctuary, proclaiming, “Lumen Christi!” during the Easter Vigil, Saint Benedict Catholic Church, Richmond Virginia, April 19, 2014.

A Reflection on Day 9: Crossing Paths

On day 9 I was praying that my path would cross with the Muslim pilgrim if only for a brief moment. Although my interiority felt as arid as the terrain, I persisted in prayer, hoping I would see this pilgrim again.  Last evening Tom and I went to the church for Mass. We arrived early so we could pray the Rosary. The church was empty. I walked around and as I was walking up the aisle the Muslim pilgrim was there praying. He acknowledged my presence with a smile and the aridity of the day dissipated with a profound joy inundating my soul. The Lord answered the desire of my heart and prayer in a place I would least expect. Whether our paths cross again is not important; however I pray that the spiritual longing in his heart for truth will come to fulfillment in Christ. There are so many who make the Camino and for a variety of motivations that are not explicitly spiritual; however I believe the Lord is at work in their soul in a special way on the Camino. Perhaps that is the real miracle of Santiago.

Come Unto Me through Word and Sacrament

“Come unto me all ye who are weary and find life burdensome and I will refresh you.”  How do we come to Christ? Christ invited us to come to him through word and sacrament.

The living Christ invites us to be refreshed at the altar. When we come to him in living faith and receive the sacrament with living faith, he will give us the rest that is needed in the midst of the inevitable turmoil and adversity that everyone must face in life.

The living Christ also invites us to come to him, to ponder and be refreshed in his Word through the Scriptures, whose deeper spiritual meaning is mediated through our 2000-year-old tradition animated by the Holy Spirit, promised to us by Jesus, who said “I will send you the Holy Spirit, and he will lead you into all truth.”

Since Jesus has so kindly given us this invitation, this way to know him, then we should consider the ongoing study of the scriptures essential to the life of every Christian, for the leading of a full Catholic life.

There is a new study group beginning here, coming out of a recent meeting I had with two young women in the parish who really want to make this parish a center for young adult ministry. It was very exhilarating. Ann Bowie who will conduct this study is well qualified to do so. She did her undergraduate degree in Classics at the University of Virginia, and then pursued her theological degree at the University of Notre Dame. I admire their initiative, their enthusiasm, and their willingness to say “Father, we have an idea. Give us your blessing, and we will make it happen.”  This all fits into the context of the invitation of Our Lord to come to him. Ann spoke with such conviction as she extended this invitation to all the young adults of the city:

“Join young adults at Saint Benedict Catholic Church for a Bible Study of the Psalms every Sunday at 7 pm at the parish starting Sunday, July 13. Discussion in this Bible study will be grounded in the magisterial teaching of the Church as the study leader will be reading and sharing Augustine’s famous commentary on the Psalms as a basis for learning and discussion of the Biblical text.

One of the most read works in the Middle Ages, Augustine’s commentary on the Psalms is a window into the Church’s figural way of reading the Old and New Testaments as well as the man whom Dante hailed as the supreme Christian poet, King David. As the Book of Sirach describes him,

‘In all that he did he gave thanks to the Holy One, the Most High, with ascriptions of glory; he sang praise with all his heart, and he loved his Maker.’ (Sirach 47:8)

An ancient Christian poem says of David and his Psalms,

‘Be silent, Orpheus; thy lyre throw aside, O Hermes. The tripod at Delphi hath sunk into oblivion forevermore. For us David doth now play the Spirit’s lyre, The hidden things of God’s mysteries he revealeth; A multitude of ancient wonders he narrateth; Of the Creator of creation, doth he move one to sing.’

Come delve into the hidden things of God’s mysteries and sing in thanksgiving of the Creator of creation at Saint Benedict’s, Sundays at 7 pm starting July 13!”

Pope Saint Gregory the Great. Window in Saint Benedict Parish, Richmond, Virginia.

When we listen to the text “Come unto me,” Jesus invites us to come to him through the scriptures. It reminds us of Pope Saint Gregory the Great, who dedicated his whole life to the study of scripture. Saint Gregory the Great understood the role of scripture in the life of the Church because that is how we come to Jesus. And so he says, “For us to search out the depth of the Scripture is to contemplate the good things of eternity.” And his whole career as Pope was not only to nourish the biblical culture of the clergy but also the laity through preaching and fostering the reading of the sacred scripture among the laity. But he continues: “Simple believers often have a deeper understanding of the Bible than the learned, because it is really the measure of our good works that shows how deeply we have gone into the mystery of the things of eternity.”

The wonderful text of the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time is an invitation to come to Jesus through Word and Sacrament.  “For although you have hidden these things from the wise and the clever you have revealed them to the little ones.”

We have received a beautiful 2000-year-old tradition guided by the Holy Spirit, unfolding the truth of Jesus. So we are not like the learned who set themselves above the tradition; but rather, like little children we set ourselves within in the tradition, so that the hidden things of the kingdom will be revealed. Pope Saint Gregory the Great’s quote is very beautiful indeed, for us to search out the depths of the scripture is to contemplate the good things eternity, that is those hidden things, those good things of eternity.