Summary: Our worship in the Eucharist must bring together what we believe with the way we pray, and reflect both Ultimate Truth and Beauty.

April 13, 2009

Sacramentum Caritatis

As we sit in the warm glow of Resurrection Day, we are invited to reflect on the connection between what we believe and how we pray. We believe that Jesus rose from the dead, that He conquered sin and death, and that we who eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood have His very life running through our souls and bodies, and that we too will be raised in glory on the last day–if we live and die in charity. This Eucharist is experienced as a mystery of faith. What we believe, we celebrate, and our celebration in its authenticity speaks of the orthodoxy of our faith. Our faith and our eucharistic liturgy, as the Holy Father says, both have their source in the same event: Christ’s gift of himself in the Paschal Mystery.

Let’s remind ourselves of one of the fundamental realities: truth, beauty and goodness are one. We are all drawn to Ultimate Truth, Beauty and Goodness, for they are of the essence of the divine. The Liturgy must be true, but it also must be beautiful. Like the rest of Christian Revelation, the liturgy is inherently linked to beauty. The liturgy is a radiant expression of the paschal mystery, in which Christ draws us to himself and makes us one with one another. The Pope quotes St. Bonaventure, who said that in Jesus we contemplate beauty and splendor at their source. Human beings are existentially drawn to the beautiful. Christ draws men and women to His Truth by its Beauty. This is the concrete way in which the truth of God’s love in Christ encounters us, attracts us and delights us, enabling us to emerge from ourselves and drawing us towards our true vocation, Love. Just as we are attracted to the loveliness of a sunset, of the Grand Canyon, of the intricate order of a mariposa leaf or esperanza blossom, we are awed by the deeds of power in the Old Testament and New. But we are also attracted by the beauty of the words of Christ, words of love. We are even attracted by the beauty of that love painted on the face of the Crucified, painted in sweat and blood. Jesus Christ shows us how the truth of love can transform even the dark mystery of death into the radiant light of the resurrection. . .The truest beauty is the love of God, who definitively revealed himself to us in the paschal mystery.

So the beauty of the liturgy, a part of the paschal mystery, must be a glimpse of heaven on earth. As we continue to reflect over the Easter season on the Pope’s words, let’s remember that.

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