One great advantage of this Easter season for me has been the great gift of time, which I have spent reading and absorbing, instead of trying to read synthesize and write about. I am firmly convinced that anyone who writes, in order to write anything worth reading, must spend at least as as much if not more time reading than writing.
A lot that I would have normally commented on has transpired over these weeks, both in the Church and in the world. I am not going to make any attempt to get caught up. A few years back I proposed for Christian bloggers what I dubbed "the Ephesians 4:29 rule," which bids bloggers to heed the exhortation given to members of the ancient church at Ephesus: "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear" (ESV). I feel more and more compelled to follow this because I personally tire of what I call scandal-mongering. As a certified and long-time member of the loosely constituted Catholic blogosphere I am well aware that when I weigh in on whatever controversy is currently brewing or bursting in some part of the Church the number of people who read what I write increases. It is the Catholic blogosphere's version of "if it bleeds it leads."
One of the many books I have read over these blessed weeks of Easter is Martin Mosebach's The Heresy of Formlessness: The Roman Liturgy and Its Enemy. While there is much in his treatment of the post-Vatican II liturgical reform I take issue with, there are, at least in my view, many more valuable insights. In an appendix to his book of short essays and insights entitled "This Is My Body," Mosebach includes an extract from Charles Péguy's profound poem "The Portal of the Mystery of Hope":
"Jesus Christ, my child, did not come to waste the little time
he had in telling us trifles.
What are three years in the life of a world?
What are three years in the eternity of this world?
He had no time to lose, he did not squander it on tomfoolery
and guessing games,
intellectual guessing games,
ambiguities and wretched strained witticisms.
No, he had neither time nor effort to lose.
He didn't have the time.
- Oh, tremenedous efforts he had to make! -
No, he did not prodigally pour out his whole being,
he did not make this vast, terrible self-emptying,
this emptying himself, of his being, of everything,
and at such a price,
merely to give us coded messages to work out,
tricks to solve, silly pranks, sleight of hand,
clever deceptions like a village sorcerer,
like a country trickster,
like a vagrant fool, like a quack in his cart,
like the local card-sharper, like the most cunning fellow
in the tavern."
Then, seeking to demonstrate this, Mosebach continues by saying, "Péguy expresses what emerges from the Gospels' literary context" even as he "expresses something that goes beyond this context." Noting that in this magnificent poem Péguy calls Jesus, who Mosebach descibes as "the man who in all earnest refers to a piece of bread as his body," Salvator mundi. In this poem Péguy, according to Mosebach, "professes the Church's faith that Jesus is God's Son, the second Person of the Trinity, who became a creature to rescue creation." Then Mosebach provides us with a lovely exposition of Holy Week:
Holy Week mirrors the six days of creation with astonishig exactness: on the first day of creation, when light was created, Jesus enters Jerusalem in triumph. On Holy Thursday, the very day the mammals were created, he eats the Easter lamb. On the day when man was created, the God-man (crucified over what, according to an ancient tradition, was the site of Adam's grave) redeemed mankind, which had sinned in Adam. On the day when the Creator God rested, Jesus lay in the tomb. Then, on Easter morning, there begins the new creation of humanity that is now able to free itself from its inherited burden of guiltIt's still Easter and during the glorious spring weather we're enjoying here along the Wasatch Front it is easy to experience this, especially on a glorious Sunday such as this when creation is so in synch with the mysterium tremendum of the Paschal Mystery.