Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Silence, Salvation History, and the Missa Aurea

We need that silence which becomes contemplation, which introduces us into God’s silence and brings us to the point where the Word, the redeeming Word, is born.-Pope Benedict XVI
Grande Chartreuse
There is a documentary that was made in 2005 entitled Into Great Silence.  It was made by a German film producer, who spent five months living at the mother church of the Carthusian Order. at Grande Chartreuse in France. The film has no commentary or music laid over the images. Rather, the sights and sounds of monastic life drive the film. (I have not seen it, but I think it would be cool to watch.) This relates beautifully to a post I wrote earlier on prayer and sacred silence.

It's also really neat that this came to my attention during Advent. The motto of the Carthusians is Stat crux dum volvitur orbis which means "The Cross is steady while the world turns." That's a really interesting idea , because the life, death, and resurrection of Christ are not just events in history. Instead, Christ is at the center of our history, as "God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons." (Galatians Ch 4). This is in keeping with God's plan for mankind:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. He destined us in love to be His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of his glorious grace which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished upon us. For He has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of His will, according to His purpose which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Eph. 1:3-10)

 Bl John Paul II wrote this in Salvifici Doloris (Letter On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering):
As a result of Christ's salvific work, man exists on earth with the hope of eternal life and holiness. And even though the victory over sin and death achieved by Christ in His cross and resurrection does not abolish temporal suffering from human life, nor free from suffering the whole historical dimension of human existence, it nevertheless throws a new light upon this dimension and upon every suffering; the light of salvation. This is the light of the Gospel, that is, of the Good News. At the heart of this light is the truth expounded in the conversation with Nicodemus: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son."[31] This truth radically changes the picture of man's history and his earthly situation: in spite of the sin that took root in this history both as an original inheritance and as the "sin of the world" and as the sum of personal sins, God the Father has loved the only-begotten Son, that is, He loves Him in a lasting way; and then in time, precisely through this all-surpassing love, He "gives" this Son, that He may strike at the very roots of human evil and thus draw close in a salvific way to the whole world of suffering in which man shares.

I encourage you to read the rest of this at the Vatican website.

the Annunciation
Also, today is the Wednesday of the Advent Ember Days. These days were the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday following the feast of St Lucy, the first Sunday of Lent, Pentecost, and the Exaltation of the Cross. They date to the ancient church, and served initially as a bridge between the pagan world and true Christian worship. Later the dayss became fully integrated into the liturgical seasons, and served as the week of priestly ordinations in Rome.

Today's Mass is often known as the Golden Mass or Missa Aurea.  If one were to examine the Gospels for Advent, one would find they are backwards in chronology, as the first coming of Christ is contrasted with His Second Coming. The Gospel for Gaudete Sunday does not even mention Christ, as it is John the Baptist, preaching of the one greater than he is that was to come. Today's Gospel in the EF* is that of the Annunciation, and the story begins to move forward, as this is the first direct announcement of the redemption of man. The Gospel will peak at during the Masses of the Nativity, as they dwell directly upon the events and mystery of the Incarnation.

New Liturgical Movement has a really cool article on the Ember Wednesday of Advent.

*The Ember Days were left to the discretion of the episcopal conferences, and in typical fashion were abandoned in the Novus Ordo. Tomorrow's OF Gospel is the Annunciation...

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