SACRIFICE: Moses — Painting By Numbers

April 6, 2017

Lent is all about taking steps.  One after the other. Lent is only about taking steps. He leads.  We follow. Until we come to the edge.  Then he falls.  And we stay right where we are. And at that moment it is not just our souls and our hearts that are plunged into darkness. Not just our altars and our churches. But it is the world, even the universe that no longer has his light to see by. I write these posts because I am tired of living a life of clenching my fists hard and biting my lip whenever I hear someone say that Jesus Died For Me with the same kind of enthusiasm he might use if he just won a car on a game show. Gosh!  Isn’t it great!  Look at what he did for me! No. Just, no. Like Noah’s raven, Jesus was sent to [...]

SACRIFICE: The Burden Abraham Bore

March 16, 2017

The title may have the name, Abraham, in it, but this ultimately is about Jesus Christ.  And the characteristics that make up the concept of his sacrifice when he went to his death. People claim, too loudly sometimes, that Jesus died FOR US!  Without any real explanation of how that dying-for-us concept really works. The first part of this series focused on Jesus’s plea for mercy for those who accused him falsely.  By doing this two things happened: (1) Jesus came down off the cross, turned and faced God, and plead for us to be forgiven.  To do this, Jesus used his authority as the son of God to intercede for us.  To be honest, though, God is the one who can choose to forgive us or not.  Mercy is a choice that the one in [...]

SACRIFICE: The Raven’s Fate

March 2, 2017

And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made: And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth. Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground; But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole Earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark. And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the [...]

POETRY: The Offering Of Isaac

May 16, 2014

From Genesis A, Anglo-Saxon; translated by David Ferry Then the Lord wanted to know How steadfast was his man, So He said, in the Lord’s stern voice, “Abraham, Abraham, you Must take your belovèd child, Your own, your only son, And go with him to where I will show you what to do. A place there is, high in the hills You must climb up there on foot. The two of you together, Around you only nothing. Only the mountain peaks Around you witnessing. And there make ready a fire, A bale-fire for your bairn, And then, you must, yourself, Take up the sword you carry, And kill him with its edge, And burn his dear body black In the flames you have set going And present what you have done, A burnt offering to Me.” Abraham heard [...]

JESUS: Wood-Bearer, Blood-Letter

May 15, 2014

I have faced my visions on sacrifice with the greatest of reluctance. Not only do I find the subject matter completely abhorrent, but I also find it completely opaque.  A literal solid of a concept.  A smash-your-fist-into-it kind of solid. For me, the concept of sacrifice is a complete circle.  We have sacrificed.  We have given that up.  We sacrifice ourselves.  We try to give that up. We, as a culture, are both criticized for being willing and encouraged to sacrifice.  Which is confusing enough.  But what, exactly, is sacrifice to God? For a while now, I’ve been thinking that I am pretty clever to align Abraham/Isaac up with Jesus for the purposes of this study.  But this comparison/contrast idea between the two tales [...]

THE CHURCH: On The Sacrifice Of The Mass

May 15, 2014

From The Baltimore Catechism, No. 4, by Thomas L. Kinkead Question: When and where are the bread and wine changed into the body and blood of Christ? Answer: The bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ at the consecration in the [...]

SACRIFICE: Asceticism And Sacrifice by Thomas Merton

May 13, 2014

From No Man Is an Island There is no such thing as a sacrifice of ourselves that is merely self-destruction.  We sacrifice ourselves to God by the spiritualization of our whole being through obedience to his grace.  The only sacrifice he accepts is the purity of our love.  Any renunciation that helps us to love God more is good and useful.  A renunciation that may be noble in itself is useless for us if God does not will us to make it. In order to spiritualize our lives and make them pleasing to God, we must become quiet.  The peace of a soul that is detached from all things and from itself is the sign that our sacrifice is truly acceptable to God. Bodily agitation agitates the soul.  But we cannot tranquilize our spirit by forcing [...]

PRAYER: The Debated “Daily Sacrifice” Prayers of George Washington

May 12, 2014

From George Washington’s Sacred Fire, George Washington’s Sacred Fire, by Peter Lillback Sunday  Morning  Almighty God, and most merciful father, who didst command the children of Israel to offer a daily sacrifice to thee, that thereby they might glorify and praise thee for thy protection both night and day; receive, O Lord, my morning sacrifice which I now offer up to thee; I yield thee humble and hearty thanks that thou hast preserved me from the dangers of the night past, and brought me to the light of this day, and the comforts thereof, a day which is consecrated to thine own service and for thine own [...]

POETRY: Sacrifice, by Anthony Hecht

January 17, 2014

(“Sacrifice,” appears in Anthony Hecht’s last collection of poetry, The Darkness and the Light.  Hecht wrote poetry as a way of responding to his experience in World War II.) I ABRAHAM Long years, and I found favor In the sight of the Lord, who brought me out of Ur To where his promise lay, There with him to confer On Justice and Mercy and the appointed day Of Sodom’s ashen fate; For me he closeted sweetness in the date, And gave to salt its savor. Three promises he gave, Came like three kings or angels to my door: His purposes concealed In coiled and kerneled store He planted as a seedling that would yield In my enfeebled years A miracle that would command my tears With piercings of the grave. “Old man, behold [...]

SATURDAY READING: The Eucharist As Sacrifice, by Bernard Cooke, S. J.

July 27, 2013

From The Eucharist: Mystery of Friendship In the previous chapters we discussed the Eucharist as the mystery of presence, then pointed out that presence is not simply a question of Christ being there. The mystery of redemption is also there.  Christ still continues his mysteries.  As the Christian participates in these mysteries of Christ, he is led to the moment of sacrifice, the heart of the action of Christianity.  It is important, therefore, to discuss the way in which the Eucharist action of the mass is a sacrifice. In order to understand sacrifice in the Christian context, we must go back to the Old Testament notion of sacrifice to give us a fuller understanding of what Christ did at the last supper.  When Christ performed an [...]