Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Word

The Pope's "Eucharistic Focus" is not his alone. Bp. Wright, of Durham, also had a few things to say about that--and the Word--in his Christmas Day sermon.

...we return to the meal, the food whose very name is strange, forbidding, even incomprehensible to those outside, but the most natural thing to those who know it. The little Child comes out to the front this morning, and speaks to us of the food which he offers us: himself, his own body and blood. It is a hard saying, and those of us who know it well may need to remind ourselves just how hard it is, lest we be dulled by familiarity into supposing that it’s easy and undemanding. It isn’t. It is the Word which judges the world and saves the world, the Word now turned into flesh, into matzo, passover bread, the bread which is the flesh of the Christchild, given for the life of the world because this flesh is the place where the living Word of God has come to dwell. Listen, this morning, for the incomprehensible word the Child speaks to you. Don’t patronize it; don’t reject it; don’t sentimentalize it; learn the language within which it makes sense. And come to the table to enjoy the breakfast, the breakfast which is himself, the Word made flesh, the life which is our life, our light, our glory.

There's a lot more--about the parallels between John 1 and Genesis, and about 'words' in John's Gospel (Christ is never again referred to as 'the Word' in John...) and, not mentioned, Life.

Cdl. Ratzinger's mention that musica sacra is 'the enfleshment of the Word' becomes more and more momentous and worthy of careful thought as we read the words of Bp. Wright.

Another way to put it: IS the music used at your Mass truly worthy of being 'the enfleshment of the Word'? If not, why not? If it's not, perhaps it's because

John’s view of the incarnation, of the Word becoming flesh, strikes at the very root of that liberal denial which characterised mainstream theology thirty years ago and whose long-term effects are with us still. I grew up hearing lectures and sermons which declared that the idea of God becoming human was a category mistake. No human being could actually be divine; Jesus must therefore have been simply a human being, albeit no doubt (the wonderful patronizing pat on the head of the headmaster to the little boy) a very brilliant one. Phew; that’s all right then; he points to God but he isn’t actually God. And a generation later, but growing straight out of that school of thought, I have had a clergyman writing to me this week to say that the church doesn’t know anything for certain, so what’s all the fuss about? Remove the enfleshed and speaking Word from the centre of your theology, and gradually the whole thing will unravel until all you’re left with is the theological equivalent of the grin on the Cheshire Cat, a relativism whose only moral principle is that there are no moral principles; no words of judgment because nothing is really wrong except saying that things are wrong, no words of mercy because, if you’re all right as you are, you don’t need mercy, merely ‘affirmation’.

So does your music show us the Chesire Cat? What food is that?

HT: Amy


Anonymous said...

Only one little problem here: Bishop Wright of Durham is the EPISCOPAL bishop of the C of E diocese of Durham (UK). If his Eucharistic theology reflects the Pope's, I'd be more than a little surprised. Then again, he may indeed be more "Catholic" than several Roman Catholic bishops who have spoken, shall we say "ambiguously" on other matters.

Dad29 said...

My read of the complete sermon did not produce any "jarring" thoughts; it's possible that OUTSIDE of that statement he has non-RC-thinking.

But my point was the musical one--thus the way his sermon was cut/spliced.

And there's no doubt in my mind that this guy is more orthodox than many RC "Bishops."