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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Exposition on "All of Creation" (Part II)

Having discussed the first era of Man post fall in Verse 1, we shall discuss the second era, which is presented in Verse 2. This second era is characterized by the time of the resurrection to the present day.

Captivated but no longer bound by chains

The definition of captivated is traditionally "strongly attracted, fascinated, or beguiled". This phrase contrasts the effects of sin on man before and after the crucifixion. Before the completion of the Paschal Mystery man was bound in chains by sin. We could not avoid it, we could not overcome it. This is evidenced in the repeated covenant violations of the ancient Hebrews, and the reason why we needed a "new heart". It was this binding by chains that kept us from heaven. However, now that Christ has paid our debt and conquered sin and death, we are no longer bound in sin, but merely captivated. Basically, sin lures us and tempts us, in many ways we find it attractive, and it even beguiles us into following it. But through the sacrifice of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are now able to follow Christ, who truly satisfies all our desires.

left at an empty grave

At a basic level this line merely points to the power of the resurrection for the cause of salvation and our release of bondage. However, the empty grave is something more, for as Christs body was glorified, so will ours be. When we get our bodies they will be perfect and completely free of sin and blemish.

the sinner and the sacred resolved

I thought that "resolved" was an interesting word choice for this... why not "rejoined"? The definition of "resolution", in this sense, I believe is "the solution to a problem derived from decision making". This I think is accurate in that, though God freely gives us salvation, we must make the personal decision to accept it. So, although we do not achieve salvation because of our own qaulifications, our salvation is still dependent on our choice. So now, in our current era, we can choose to resolve ourselves to Christ, for though we are not rejoined with him (we are not in complete union with him), we are still resolved in that we can make the decision to accept heaven.

Thus is the state of the second era of man, and the second verse of the song.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Exposition on "All of Creation" (Part I)

My new favorite Christian song is "All of Creation" by Mercy Me. Not only are the lyrics and musical composition beautiful technically and theoretically nearly flawless, but the theology of the words speak to the essence of the human experience.

I will present this exposition in five parts to avoid too much confusion and an epically long post. This first part focuses on Verse 1.

The progression of the song speaks of the three eras of human's post-fall existence, and when combined with the chorus and the bridge, outline the story of salvation.

Verse 1
"Separated until the veil was torn"

The first verse speaks of the time between the fall until the moment of the Crucifixion when salvation becomes possible for all. We were separated from God because of our sin and thus, salvation was not possible. However, with the crucifixion the veil was torn. This is symbolic in a few different ways. First, historically, the veil was what separated the rest of the temple from the Holy of Holies (the tabernacle), the very presence of God, which only the high priest could enter during one day of the year (Yom Kippur--the Day of Atonement). Veil, in Hebrew, literally means "to conceal". However, we know Christologically that Christ is the real presence of God, and that his sacrifice was for all people of all times. Therefore, theologically this shows that, with the crucifixion, Christ became present for all people, not just his "chosen".

Secondly, in the anagogical (Eschatological) sense (which is more relevant to the actual song), the veil refers to the [Hebrew] cosmological and [Christian] theological separation between heaven and earth. In other words, humans from earth could not reach heaven. With the crucifixion this veil was torn and salvation was made possible for all.

The moment that hope was born

How great it was of the author to include virtue in this song dealing with salvation. Present in this first age of man (fall-->atonement) is first the virtue of faith... the only virtue that could truly be present in this era (controversial statement, I realize, but that's for another post). However, with the crucifixion hope is finally born, in the ultimate sense, in that finally salvation is made possible and God fulfills his promise. Granted, hope, in some sense was always present in that God always planned to fulfill his promises, both ultimate and specific, but finally hope is completed with ability for man to receive salvation through the cross.

and guilt was pardoned once and for all

And how was this veil torn and hope born? Through the act of atonement brought about by Christs sacrificial act. According to basic "satisfaction theory", Christ paid our debt to the Father, pardoning us from our guilt in an eternal sense and enabling salvation.

Monday, May 24, 2010

On Jazz

There's just something about Jazz Music. I hadn't really discovered it as an actual listening medium until just recent. But there's just something classy about smooth Jazz--the plinking of the piano, the strum of the bass--it all just comes together to form a relaxing whole that makes you think of just sitting back in an armchair with a glass of "Scotch on the rocks" and enjoying life. I shall enjoy more of this music... it is a refreshing part of life.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Loving Your Angel

Guardian Angels: The teaching on Guardian Angels is a beautiful teaching that exemplifies God's love for us--He loves us so much that he gives us our very own spiritual being to protect and guide us! When I was traveling my diocese for a Catechesis program, I would often find myself with a couple extra minutes at the end of a class time, or transitioning between activities. I would proceed to tell them about Guardian Angels, and inevitably their eyes would light up. Some things they always liked to know about Guardian Angels:

  • Everybody has one
  • They can protect you from danger
  • They act as your conscience
  • You can pray to them and learn their name!

It is this last point that seemed to be the most amazing to them, and when they would ask how, I would teach them this prayer:

Angel of God, My Guardian Dear
To whom God's love commits me here
Ever this day be at my side
To light and guard, rule, and guide.

I told them that if you say this prayer to your Angel every morning, that they may reveal their name to you. They always asked if I knew my Guardian Angel's name, and I would always respond, "Samuel". This was how I first developed my devotion to my Guardian Angel, and sometimes if the kids were older, I would tell them this story:

How I learned my Guardian Angels Name: It was a seemingly normal night on the road, and my second night at the host family I was staying with that week. My team member had let me take the bedroom with the bed, and he offered to take the couch, because he liked falling asleep watching the TV if he could. That night I couldn't sleep, and I found myself with a desire to pray the St. Micheal Prayer. I said it, and then continued to say a rosary. It didn't help with sleeping, and God seemed to be testing me that night with patience. As the night wore on I received various hot and cold flashes, as well as a feeling that I should pray for Faith. When I did sleep, I had dreams of people I never met before, and giving them roses as a symbol of God's forgiveness for them. One time after one of these dreams I woke up to get a glass of water, only to find my teammate had left all the lights on, along with EWTN. I shut off all the electronics, got my drink, and went to bed. Later, I got up again to go to the bathroom (something that is very rare for me to do) and I saw that again the lights were on, and the tv had been turned on, but that channel changed. I continued to pray. Sometime during the early morning hours I got the urge to pray to my Guardian Angel, which is something I had never really done before. I prayed asking for guidance, sleep and protection, and as I did, the name Samuel came into my head. I asked my Angel if that was his name, and I got an overwhelming feeling of love and peace in my heart. That is how I became pretty sure my Angel's name was Samuel. I slept in fits for the rest of the night, but I was comforted by my new found friend.

Regardless of whether or not I told my personal story, the children I taught where always filled with an immediate sense of awe and love, and many would proceed that very to pray to their angel at Mass or even during recess. This is a beautiful gift we have been given, and it is a means by which we can evangelize to the younger generation. It takes only love of a single truth to delve deeper and discover the richness of the Church. I believe that this teaching may be especially comforting to youth and children who feel as if they don't have any other friends--their Angel was created to be their special best friend. Let us spread this joy and help others to realize that they all have guiding light sent by God to hold their hands on their journey to Christ. They are not alone!