Like most people brought up in an evangelical home I did not at first know that there was any other way of thinking of the Atonement except in terms of God laying on Jesus the punishment that should have been laid on me… It seemed to me that the whole conception starts from the wrath of God, while the New Testament starts from the love of God. It was because he so loved the world that God sent his Son into the world (John 3:16). It was his love that God showed to us in the death of Christ for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). Never in the New Testament, never once, is God said to be reconciled to man; it is always man who is reconciled to God. We plead with you, says Paul, on behalf of Christ, be…
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Oh the laying of hands & the softest wind of the Holy spirit, soft & secret, breathe of the Live God upon my life upon the time of my life, just knowing this, is healing, know this temporary lens of a final sight to behold and upon my own sons likewise may they know this breathe, this wind this voice, I pray to bequeath them this same voice and promise for it is for us, for us, & those who mock and scorn do not see the wind blow gently through the aspen, or zephyr-like move across my brow in an empty room, I know the talking of the grass the lovely trumpet of the night-hawk, the doves at my bird feeder,& while those are reminders they themselves are not this wholly Other & while these who nay say and mock and squander the life the Giver-Creator-Father God gave them the same & are only dry rocks rolling off the road bed & we fogive them as the roll past, some of them bouncing off & while the road ahead sure and passable is a direct way to Him who guides us this far, long and hard but sure and good, He is leading those of us who do not see toward sure goodness mercy and love, oh hallowed be His name, sending the healing coming, like His Kingdom coming our way there is a sureness to it, as every day has pain, this will not always be so. On earth as it is in Heaven. In the precious name of Jesus, amen selah
In the cool darkness of the spring night the priest and his ministers gather outside the door of the empty Church. The “new fire,” struck from flint, is enkindled and blessed. From this new fire the Paschal Candle will be lit. The marvelous Exsultet will then be sung, proclaiming the full meaning of the Easter mystery. Flame will be taken from the great candle, and multiplied throughout the building in all the different hanging lamps, and on the altar candles. As Mass is being prepared, “prophecies” will be chanted from various books of the Old Testament, showing how the types and figures hidden in the obscurity of the Old Law, have been brought to light in the glory of the resurrection. Each prophecy kindles a mystical light in the listening Church. This is a feast of light, a feast of life, celebrating not merely a past event but the present existential reality of the redemptive fact by which Christ communicates His life to us and unites us to Himself in one spirit.
Animate and inanimate creation join with the Church in her feast. Not only men are present to solemnize the mystery, but angelic spirits join with them in the liturgical celebration. The texts that are chanted, the prayers and blessings, are the richest in the liturgical year. They are a compendium of theology—theology not merely studied, not merely meditated, but lived. Through the medium of the liturgy, the Word Himself, uncreated Truth, enters into our spirits and becomes our theology. The first voice that speaks in the silent night is the cold flint. Out of the flint springs fire. The fire, making no sound, is the most eloquent preacher on this night that calls for no other sermon than liturgical action and mystery. That spark should spring from cold rock, reminds us that the strength, the life of God, is always deeply buried in the substance
The light that leaps out of darkness, the fire that comes from stone, symbolizes Christ’s conquest of death. He, Who is the source of all life, could never remain in death, could not see corruption. Death is not a reality, but the absence of a reality. And in Him there is nothing unreal. The fire that springs from the stone speaks, then, of His reality springing from the alienated coldness of our dead hearts, of our souls that have forgotten themselves, that have been exiled from themselves and from their God—and have lost their way in death. But there is nothing lost that God cannot find again. Nothing dead that cannot live again in the presence of His Spirit. No heart so dark, so hopeless, that it cannot be enlightened and brought back to itself, warmed back to the life of charity.
In the old days, on Easter night, the Russian peasants used to carry the blest fire home from Church. The light would scatter and travel in all directions through the darkness, and the desolation of the night would be pierced and dispelled as lamps came on in the windows of the farmhouses one by one. Even so the glory of God sleeps everywhere, ready to blaze out unexpectedly in created things. Even so His peace and His order lie hidden in the world, even the world of today, ready to reestablish themselves in His way, in His own good time: but never without the instrumentality of free options made by free men.
Merton, Thomas (1999-11-29). The New Man (Kindle Locations 2190-2215). Macmillan. Kindle Edition.
Excerpted from an essay which first appeared in 1960 in The American Benedictine Review.
The creativity of the Christian person must be seen in relation to the creative vocation of the new Adam, mystical person of the “whole Christ.” The creative will of God has been at work in the cosmos since he said: “Let there be light.” This creative fiat was not uttered merely at the dawn of time. All time and all history are a continued, uninterrupted creative act, a stupendous, ineffable mystery in which God has signified his will to associate man with himself in his work of creation. The will and power of the Almighty Father were not satisfied simply to make the world and turn it over to man to run it as best he could. The creative love of God was met, at first, by the destructive and self-centered recusal of man: an act of such incalculable consequences that it would have amounted to a destruction of God’s plan, if that were possible. But the creative work of God could not be frustrated by man’s sin. On the contrary, sin itself entered into the plan. If man was first called to share in the creative work of his heavenly Father, he now became involved in the “new creation,” the redemption of his own kind and the restoration of the cosmos, purified and transfigured, into the hands of the Father. God himself became man in order that in this way man could be most perfectly associated with him in this great work, the fullest manifestation of his eternal wisdom and mercy.
The Literary Essays of Thomas Merton, New Directions