The Easter Praise of Christ

H/T Divineoffice.org

From an Easter homily by Melito of Sardis, bishop
The Easter praise of Christ

We should understand, beloved, that the paschal mystery is at once old and new, transitory and eternal, corruptible and incorruptible, mortal and immortal. In terms of the Law it is old, in terms of the Word it is new. In its figure it is passing, in its grace it is eternal. It is corruptible in the sacrifice of the lamb, incorruptible in the eternal life of the Lord. It is mortal in his burial in the earth, immortal in his resurrection from the dead.

The Law indeed is old, but the Word is new. The type is transitory, but grace is eternal. The lamb was corruptible, but the Lord is incorruptible. He was slain as a lamb; he rose again as God. He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, yet he was not a sheep. He was silent as a lamb, yet he was not a lamb. The type has passed away; the reality has come. The lamb gives place to God, the sheep gives place to a man, and the man is Christ, who fills the whole of creation. The sacrifice of the lamb, the celebration of the Passover, and the prescriptions of the Law have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Under the old Law, and still more under the new dispensation, everything pointed toward him.

Both the Law and the Word came forth from Zion and Jerusalem, but now the Law has given place to the Word, the old to the new. The commandment has become grace, the type a reality. The lamb has become a Son, the sheep a man, and man, God.

The Lord, though he was God, became man. He suffered for the sake of those who suffer, he was bound for those in bonds, condemned for the guilty, buried for those who lie in the grave; but he rose from the dead, and cried aloud: Who will contend with me? Let him confront me. I have freed the condemned, brought the dead back to life, raised men from their graves. Who has anything to say against me? I, he said, am the Christ; I have destroyed death, triumphed over the enemy, trampled hell underfoot, bound the strong one, and taken men up to the heights of heaven: I am the Christ.

Come, then, all you nations of men, receive forgiveness for the sins that defile you. I am your forgiveness. I am the Passover that brings salvation. I am the lamb who was immolated for you. I am your ransom, your life, your resurrection, your light, I am your salvation and your king. I will bring you to the heights of heaven. With my own right hand I will raise you up, and I will show you the eternal Father.

A Man Clothed in Sin

A man clothed in sin
Walked the long aisle
To stand before the Crucifix.

Long years,
No tears,
He came to say,
“You died for me,
And I don’t give a damn!”

The hardened before the Hallowed,
The clock running down,
Time spent and unreflected,
Deeds done and unrepentant.

Challenged to say the words,
He began,
“You died for me,
And I don’t give…”

Undaunted, he repeated,
“You died for me
And I don’t…..”
Gaze focused
On that bloodied Corpse,
Resolute, again, he began.
“You died for me…”
…….
“You died for me…”
“You died for me!”

Tears, tears,
Rivers of tears,
Years unspent,
And now in flood.

Miracles at the Red Sea,
Yet, none greater
Than the Passover,
One innocent Lamb,
Slain, and yet standing,
Lifted up,
Drawing thee.

© 2012 Joann Nelander
All rights reserved

 

Inspired by another story :

 

MONDAY, 6 AUGUST 2007

Cardinal Lustiger RIP 1926-2007


I didn’t always agree with the former Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, who died yesterday, but his tenure of that see brought a great deal more good than harm, I think. On his watch, the Catholic life of the city gained a huge boost; the new movements revitalized many parishes, and vocations to the priesthood soared. I remember that he habitually celebrated Mass in Notre Dame almost every Sunday evening for the young people who came to that Mass; a great example to the other bishops of France, many of whom are facing the priestly extinction of their dioceses.
I heard a story attributed to him—maybe it is one he told rather than a story about himself (since he himself was a Jewish convert). I was given to understand that the story is a true one.
Two boys were, out of mischief, determined to tease their parish priest, so they went to confession and made up outrageous sins, just to see what the priest would say. The priest, listening to the second boy, realizing that he was being ‘had’, and hurt by the mockery of the sacrament, asked the second lad as a ‘penance’ to go to the crucifix over the tabernacle and shout out loud, three times ‘you died for me, and I don’t give a damn’. The lad did as he was asked; by the third time he was in tears. Some years later, he was ordained a priest.
May Jean-Marie Lustiger rest in peace.

The Spiritual Passover

From an ancient Easter homily by Pseudo-Chrysostom

The spiritual Passover

The Passover we celebrate brings salvation to the whole human race beginning with the first man, who together with all the others is saved and given life.

In an imperfect and transitory way, the types and images of the past prefigured the perfect and eternal reality which has now been revealed. The presence of what is represented makes the symbol obsolete: when the king appears in person no one pays reverence to his statue.

How far the symbol falls short of the reality is seen from the fact that the symbolic Passover celebrated the brief life of the firstborn of the Jews, whereas the real Passover celebrates the eternal life of all mankind. It is a small gain to escape death for a short time, only to die soon afterward; it is a very different thing to escape death altogether as we do through the sacrifice of Christ, our Passover.

Correctly understood, its very name shows why this is our greatest feast. It is called the Passover because, when he was striking down the firstborn, the destroying angel passed over the houses of the Hebrews, but it is even more true to say that he passes over us, for he does so once and for all when we are raised up by Christ to eternal life.

If we think only of the true Passover and ask why it is that the time of the Passover and the salvation of the firstborn is taken to be the beginning of the year, the answer must surely be that the sacrifice of the true Passover is for us the beginning of eternal life. Because it revolves in cycles and never comes to an end, the year is a symbol of eternity.

Christ, the sacrifice that was offered up for us, is the father of the world to come. He puts an end to our former life, and through the regenerating waters of baptism in which we imitate his death and resurrection, he gives us the beginning of a new life. The knowledge that Christ is the Passover lamb who was sacrificed for us should make us regard the moment of his immolation as the beginning of our own lives. As far as we are concerned, Christ’s immolation on our behalf takes place when we become aware of this grace and understand the life conferred on us by this sacrifice. Having once understood it, we should enter upon this new life with all eagerness and never return to the old one, which is now at an end. As Scripture says: We have died to sin—how then can we continue to live in it?

Everybody's Gotta Serve Somebody

Passover’s Essential Message.

Blurring the Line Between Life and Death

Terri Schiavo died on March 31st, a week from today.  Next week will mark the 5 year anniversary of that murderous action/event, indicating a turning point . Next week also begins Holy Week leading to Easter.  It also marks the beginning of Passover, starting Tuesday, March 30th.  It is a good time to consider: Are we to value human life by its utility or because God has have placed His life in us?  Passover is about God delivering His people from Slavery and setting them/us free for Life. Easter celebrates the victory of Life over Death, Christ’s victory. Terri’s death brings both into focus.

Writes Dr. Daniel Eisenberg, M.D. in The Death of Terri Schiavo: An Epilogue:

Blurring the line between life and death, and between medical data and morality, her death signifies a disturbing turning point for American society.

Terri Schiavo did not die of PVS; she died of starvation and dehydration

Terri Schiavo died on March 31, 2005, after lasting 13 days without food or water. Her life and death had a profound impact on the American psyche and brought to the forefront the unresolved debate regarding how we treat severely disabled people and who should be their surrogate decision-makers. There is reason to be disturbed by the role that physicians play in molding public opinion regarding end of life issues, because their expertise is generally in medicine and not ethics.

A letter from a neurologist in complete disagreement with Dr. Eisenberg prompted him to respond:

He (the neurologist) states:

…I find myself in sharp disagreement with Dr. Eisenberg. The article refers to PVS as a “cognitively impaired” condition. In fact, there is no cognition whatsoever in someone who is in a persistent vegetative state. Modern aggressive emergency care developed over the last several decades, has allowed us to resuscitate patients with what would have been terminal hypoxic brain injury (what happened to Terri Schiavo). Unfortunately, the entire brain cortex becomes nonfunctional in these people and we are left with a functioning brainstem that allows for reflex eye movements, facial movements etc. PVS patients can even track a moving object in their field of vision because collicular function of the intact brainstem reflexively guides these eye movements. It is all too easy to imagine sentience in the PVS patient because, as humans, so much of our communication is nonverbal and cued by facial and eye movements.

Dr. Eisenberg responds:

His assessment of the persistent vegetative state is succinct and it is accurate. To the best of our medical understanding, we presume that a person in a persistent vegetative state has no cognition whatsoever. I never gave much credence to those who argued about the rehabilitation potential of Terri Schiavo. Not because I did not believe it to be true (I have no way of knowing), but because it really does not make a difference to outsiders like myself. CT scan results, Glascow Coma Scales, and following balloons are really only of interest to neurologists and family members who need to arrange for the best possible care for the patient.

As a society, what we must concern ourselves with are two questions: What is the significance of being so terribly impaired that there is no cognition and how should such people be treated? It is here that the doctor falls woefully short in his analysis. While I am sure that his credentials are impeccable and his understanding of neurology is excellent, he completely misunderstands the role that physicians should play in society’s evaluation of end of life issues (as we will discuss) and he clearly does not appreciate where medical knowledge ends and morality begins.

Neurologist’s letter continued:

Nevertheless, the activity of our cerebral cortex is what distinguishes our very “humanness”. If the cortex is dead, then the human individual is dead. . . If the cortex is destroyed, personhood ceases. PVS is an abomination of life –in essence a human shaped colony of cells with no sentience — a glorified cell culture. . .Thankfully, I have not seen this irrational preservation of “life” at all costs in this situation since my training in the early 1970’s. . . Patients with PVS and end-stage Alzheimer’s disease routinely have IV’s and feeding tubes removed in the United States every day.

Dr. Eisenberg responds:

The opinions expressed above are very widespread in the medical community today. Variations of these views are espoused by many of the physicians with whom I have discussed this topic. For this reason, they cannot be lightly brushed aside. Please understand that the issue is not autonomy (which is an independent and important issue), but the definition of life. Is the cerebral cortex what makes us human and is it true that “if the cortex is dead, then the human individual is dead”?

Of course not. My physician critic clearly has stepped beyond the bounds of medicine into the realm of philosophy, and that is the problem. As any physician knows, there is neither a state in America nor any sane physician in the world who would declare that someone who is in a persistent vegetative state is dead. If PVS really equals death then why bother pulling the feeding tube? Just bury the patient with the feeding tube still in place! The doctor’s comments are clearly hyperbole, and represent a very insidious type of bias that leads people to equate PVS with death.

People want to feel “good” about the killing they allow whether by deeming a fetus ‘not a real living person’ or a person in a persistent vegetative state ‘as good as dead.’  In matters of morality, the doctor steps beyond the data and expertise of his training to play God.  Dr. Eisenberg asks “why the medical knowledge of the physician seem to translate into skill in evaluating the value of life?”

Dr. Eisenberg reminds us:

“The belief that medicine can determine which lives are worth preserving was an intrinsic part of the pre-Nazi German medical establishment (see “Why Medical Ethics“). In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s:

“a number of prominent German academics and medical professionals were espousing the theory of “unworthy life,” a theory which advanced the notion that some lives were simply not worthy of living. . . If Mengele himself (an infamous physician who performed murderous experiments on live concentration camp inmates) became a cold-blooded monster at the height of his Nazi career, he certainly learned at the feet of some of Germany’s most diabolical minds. As a student Mengele attended the lectures of Dr. Ernst Rudin, who posited not only that there were some lives not worth living, but that doctors had a responsibility to destroy such life and remove it from the general population. His prominent views gained the attention of Hitler himself, and Rudin was drafted to assist in composing the Law for the Protection of Heredity Health, which passed in 1933, the same year that the Nazis took complete control of the German government. This unapologetic Social Darwinist contributed to the Nazi decree that called for the sterilization of those demonstrating the following flaws, lest they reproduce and further contaminate the German gene pool: feeblemindedness; schizophrenia; manic depression; epilepsy; hereditary blindness; deafness; physical deformities; Huntington’s disease; and alcoholism.

I ask again: Are we to value human life by its utility or because God has have placed His life in us?

Read more here.

Happy Passover – Seder Primer

This is a learning experience for me, you might as well come along.

Ever since the night before the Exodus Jews have celebrated a Seder, a supper before the Lord and a story told, the Haggadah.

More Happy Passover from the Anchoress

Happy Passover!