The Baptism of Christ

The Baptism of Christ
Ottavio Vannini, c. 1640
The Baptism of Christ Ottavio Vannini, c. 1640

From a Sermon by Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, bishop
The baptism of Christ
Christ is bathed in light; let us also be bathed in light. Christ is baptized; let us also go down with him, and rise with him.
John is baptizing when Jesus draws near. Perhaps he comes to sanctify his baptizer; certainly he comes to bury sinful humanity in the waters. He comes to sanctify the Jordan for our sake and in readiness for us; he who is spirit and flesh comes to begin a new creation through the Spirit and water.
The Baptist protests; Jesus insists. Then John says: I ought to be baptized by you. He is the lamp in the presence of the sun, the voice in the presence of the Word, the friend in the presence of the Bridegroom, the greatest of all born of woman in the presence of the firstborn of all creation, the one who leapt in his mother’s womb in the presence of him who was adored in the womb, the forerunner and future forerunner in the presence of him who has already come and is to come again. I ought to be baptized by you: we should also add, “and for you,” for John is to be baptized in blood, washed clean like Peter, not only by the washing of his feet.
Jesus rises from the waters; the world rises with him. The heavens like Paradise with its flaming sword, closed by Adam for himself and his descendants, are rent open. The Spirit comes to him as to an equal, bearing witness to his Godhead. A voice bears witness to him from heaven, his place of origin. The Spirit descends in bodily form like the dove that so long ago announced the ending of the flood and so gives honor to the body that is one with God.
Today let us do honor to Christ’s baptism and celebrate this feast in holiness. Be cleansed entirely and continue to be cleansed. Nothing gives such pleasure to God as the conversion and salvation of men, for whom his every word and every revelation exist. He wants you to become a living force for all mankind, lights shining in the world. You are to be radiant lights as you stand beside Christ, the great light, bathed in the glory of him who is the light of heaven. You are to enjoy more and more the pure and dazzling light of the Trinity, as now you have received – though not in its fullness – a ray of its splendor, proceeding from the one God, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

Via divine office.org

By Your Presence

You, by Your Presence, O Lord,
Are Light to my darkness.
You are the kiss upon my brow,
The oil upon my head,
The arms of sweet embrace,
The banner over my heart.

You, All Love,
Bless this child of Your magnificent
And magnanimous Mercy.
Day by day.
I find You all about me.

Flowers and fields,
Spread before me
As a welcoming blanket.
Come rest awhile, You invite.
I come and I delight.

©2011 Joann Nelander

Enhanced by Zemanta

Cry of One Forgiven

How can I thank You
For Your forgiveness,
For that moment,
In which You scattered
My accusers,
And took my part?

As I looked up
From the mud of my despair,
Your majestic countenance
Was all.
You loomed before me,
Brighter than the Sun.

Who could have imagined
Such grandeur?
You wore holiness like a crown
That more than circled Your brow.
Rather, it emanated,
As light from Your Being,
Announcing Who You are?

Only humility can receive You,
And dare Your gaze.
For Your Eyes
Pierce the soul,
Revealing all.

Only those crying for a Savior
Dare look up,
To confess with that glance
Their fault and nakedness,
Helpless and all pleading.

Only the thirsty
Can drink in the majesty
Of Your knowing.
For pride is the travesty,
That hides,
For fear of revelation.

That moment shattered my fear
And rent the clouds of all my life.
Taking proffered Hand,
I rise to my feet
Then, as now, again,

Light embraces me
As my rags fall to my feet.
In their place
Love has woven a mantle,
A robe of Being,
That more than clothes me.

It is a signal grace,
That names me,
With it, You announce
To all Creation
Who I am in You.

My "Yes" reverberates
Throughout the Universe.
I am new,
Like a star at its birth,
Bursting forth
With Your Holiness;
Baptized in Your Redemption.

How can I thank You
For Your forgiveness,
O, You, Who took my part?
Go now,
In search of my accusers.

Copyright 2011 Joann Nelander

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Visitation – Feast or Frustration?

Today is the Feast of the Visitation. The Anchoress’ God is Not Sophisticated Enough and David Mills’ Spirituality Without Spirits got me thinking about of this Feast day in the light of the thinking or befuddled thoroughly modern Woman of our Day.

The Visitation recalls that Mary is inspired by God to visit her older cousin Elizabeth now in her sixth month, carrying John who would one day be called the Baptist and be precursor to Mary’s own Son, now gestating in the paradise that is her womb. What wonders are unfolding in the secret of these holy wombs. Elizabeth prophetically greets the Mother of her Lord. Her child leaps at the Christ’s presence. Mary affirms Elizabeth’s utterance with her Magnificat. Mary exclaims with all humility and awe the saving works of God who at her “Fiat” is now enfleshed within her humble willing being.

Can the women of our age appreciate these moments in time and history? Has the history of our age made it impossible to grasp them beyond quaint story and mere myth. How can a thoroughly modern, maybe “spiritual” woman relate?  An untimely pregnancy – Mary’s or Elizabeth’s; how would the average working woman, school girl or college graduated woman proceed? Would wonder and awe best describe our modern attitudes.

The Anchoress writes:

“You can also safely assume that you’ve created a “spirituality” based on your own conscience (or your subconscious self) when it turns out that all God really wants of you is for you to do what makes you happy. Oh, and “love and forgive and stuff.”

David Mills writes:

“We want the spiritual-ish, because God made us to want him yet we do not want to want him, and we do not want him on his terms. If our hearts are restless without God, as St. Augustine argued, they can be tranquillized with substitutes, of which “spirituality” is easier to find and much less costly than the alternatives. Drugs and drink are bad for you, and wealth and sex are hard to get, and achievement takes work.”

Mary and Elizabeth were unabashedly “religious” woman who had the living faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  They loved God with all their hearts, and souls and beings. Their faith made demands on them, touched their hearts and minds and when “choice” entered their mental framework,  it was prefixed with the word’s of Deuteronomy, “Choose life then that you may live.” The “spiritual” Woman of Today is she free or frustrated?  Does she know Who is present in the gift of a child?