From the archives: Just Before Entering Holy Week

Just before entering into the spirit of Holy Week, however, I am prompted by a piece about the retrofitting of the Lord’s Prayer by a group calling itself the “Non-Theistic Liturgy Resources Working Group” at St. Stephen’s College in Edmonton, Alberta.

The rephrasing is perfectly predictable. It could have been written in one’s sleep. The “welfare of the Earth” — complete with a upper case E — admission of our “shortcomings,” and so on.

The author of this vacuous catalogue of platitudes is Rev. Dr. Charles Bidwell. Dr. Bidwell is anxious to point out that: “… at no time does this indicate a petition to an external force to intervene and do the work which only we can do.”

Which brings me to this from Benedict XVI:

The temptation to reduce Christianity to the level of a type of moralism is very great in our own day. For we are all living in an atmosphere of deism. It seems that there is no room for God himself to act in human history and in my life. And so we have the idea of God who can no longer enter into this cosmos, made and closed against him. What is left? Our action. And we are the ones who must transform the world. We are the ones who must generate redemption. We are the ones who must create a better world, a new world. And if that is how one thinks, then Christianity is dead.

On a related theme, speaking of the Cross of Christ, the future Benedict XVI wrote this in his now-classic Introduction to Christianity. The Cross, he wrote, “expresses the primacy of acceptance over action…”

Accordingly, from the point of view of the Christian faith, man comes in the profoundest sense to himself not through what he does but through what he accepts. [my emphasis]

One of the persistent themes in the writings of the great French theologian, Henri de Lubac, was captured in the title of one of his books: The Paradoxes of Faith. It is precisely these paradoxes that are lost on those who have lost the faith that keeps the paradoxes from turning into crude antitheses. Cardinal Ratzinger spelled out one such paradox in Introduction to Christianity:

The primacy of acceptance is not intended to condemn man to passivity; it does not mean that man can now sit idle. On the contrary, it alone makes it possible to do the things of this world in a spirit of responsibility, yet at the same time in an uncrampt, cheerful, free way, and to put them at the service of redemptive love.

Let Holy Week begin . . .

(this is an edited version of a post originally made on March 31, 2007 on our old blog site gil-bailie.com)

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