Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Only Way to Be Satisfied

According to [1 Cor 6:12-19], receiving the Eucharist means blending one’s existence, closely analogical, spiritually, to what happens when man and wife become one… the dream of blending divinity with humanity, of breaking out of the limitations of a creature—this dream, which persists through all the history of mankind and in hidden ways, in profane versions, is dreamed anew even within the atheistic ideologies of our time, just as it is in the drunken excesses of a world without God—this dream is here fulfilled. Man’s promethean attempts to break out of his limitations himself, to build with his own capacities the tower by which he may mount up to divinity, always necessarily end in collapse and disappointment—indeed, in despair. This blending, this union, has become possible because God came down in Christ, took upon himself the limitations of human existence, suffering them to the end, and in the infinite love of the Crucified One opened up the door to infinity.
Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith, 101-2
Reflection – The passage Ratzinger refers to here is the one about being a temple of the Holy Spirit, about our bodies becoming one with Christ’s body in the mystery of grace and love, a mystery that Paul goes on to say in the letter is most profoundly realized in the Lord’s Supper.
It is lovely how Ratzinger weaves together so many things here: the mystery of love, embodied in a particular way in the vocation of marriage, the yearning of the human person to break out of the limitations of our humanity, the tragedy of secular ideologies and all other human projects to attain this superhuman transcendence, and the action of God in Christ to do in us what we cannot do of ourselves.
And yet… we know, don’t we, that it’s all a rather messy, difficult business. After all, man and woman in marriage don’t exactly become one in totality from their wedding day onward. I have worked with many, many married couples in my Madonna House life, and all testify that it is a long hard road to unity.
And so it is with our union with Christ. Here too Ratzinger shows his understanding, as he refers to this union, this transcendence of humanity to the divine level, as being one with the way of the Cross. It was the path of suffering love, not a triumphal victory march, that opened up for us the glorious divine life we yearn for.
And as with the Head, so with the Body. Our path to union with Christ and with the Father in Christ is the via crucis, the Way of the Cross. But it is, indeed, the way of love, the way of abandoning ourselves to the mystery, the challenge, the excruciatingly difficult task of love, moment by moment, turning to Christ, crying out for mercy, falling down and getting up, and again and again partaking of this Bread, this Wine, this food and drink where He comes to us and makes it possible to start over with Him each day.
This is how human beings become divinized – not some mystical mountain top or some esoteric prayer practice or some New Age-y neo-Gnostic head trip. It is dying with Christ so as to rise with Christ. This is the only way the deepest desire of our hearts will ever be satisfied.