Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Third Greatest Day

Originally the word ‘orthodoxy’ did not mean, as we generally think today, right doctrine. In Greek, the word doxa means, on the one hand, opinion or splendour. But then in Christian usage it means something on the order of ‘true splendour’, that is, the glory of God. Orthodoxy means, therefore, the right way to glorify God, the right form of adoration… It is not a question of theories about God but of the right way to encounter him. This, then, was seen as the Christian faith’s great gift: we know what right worship is. We know how we should truly glorify God—by praying and living in communion with the Paschal journey of Jesus Christ, by accomplishing with him his Eucharistia, in which incarnation leads to Resurrection—along the way of the Cross.

Spirit of the Liturgy, 159-160

Reflection – Eight years ago today was the third greatest day of my life. The greatest day of my life has not occurred yet—that will be the day I leave this life and by His grace and mercy enter the presence of God. The second greatest day of my life was my baptism, of course, when the life of God poured forth in Christ became truly my life, deeper and more present to me than my own self.

But the third greatest day was that day when Bishop Richard Smith placed his anointed hands upon my head and ordained me as a priest of Jesus Christ, in the person of Christ the head. September 4, 2004: the third greatest day of my life.

The priesthood of Christ is entirely and utterly at the service of what Ratzinger so ably describes above. ‘The right way to glorify God… the right way to encounter him.’ Orthodoxy—yes, certainly it is having right opinion, having the truth revealed to us by Christ present in our minds as clearly as our capacities allow. But this truth and our holding of this truth is not enough. The devil, I presume, has good theology—at least he knows the truth about Jesus and the Church. But he isn’t orthodox—he doesn’t worship and adore rightly.

And this is what it’s all about: encounter, relationship, communion. And this communion is achieved not by our own efforts or cleverness or goodness. It is the gift of God given to us in Jesus Christ which we enter most fully and perfectly through the sacramental life of the Church.

And of course the rituals, the prayers, the words and signs and symbols of the liturgy contain within them, bear within them such a reality that it must transform our whole life, if we are truly entering it. Our life is to be ‘liturgized’—our whole life is to become ‘orthodox’, a right glorification of God. We go to Mass, and from the Mass our life becomes a living Mass. Offered to the Father through, with, and in Jesus; offered to the world as bread and wine, also through, with, and in Jesus.

This is ‘orthodoxy’, and all the good theology and right doctrine is at the service of this reality, or it is of no value whatsoever. We are not Gnostics, saved by having all the right ideas and formulas in or heads. We are Christians, and we are saved by Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever, amen.

And that's what my life was consecrated to, eight years ago today, on the third greatest day of my life.

1 comment:

  1. Just beautiful! Thank-you Father for this wonderful reflection!


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