To bow low before a human being to win his favour is indeed unfitting. But to bow low before God can never be unmodern, because it corresponds to the truth of our being. And if modern man has forgotten this truth, then it is all the more incumbent on Christians in the modern world to rediscover it and teach it to our fellow men.
Spirit of the Liturgy, 206
Reflection – Well, it’s good to be back, both in MH Combermere where real winter arrived in my absence (-21 C today!), and at LWAGS to resume a new year of blogging for the glory of God. Happy New Year (belated) to everyone, and let’s pick up where we left off, eh?
It’s nice when my Randomized Ratzinger Quote Generator™ coughs up a quote that is so perfect liturgically and in view of my own recent activities. Here we are approaching Epiphany rapidly, and we have a quote about bowing low before God. I am just coming back from a conference that was intensely missionary in spirit, calling the young attendees to become missionaries to the modern world, and here we have a quote about being just that.
So, CCO RiseUp was quite the experience. I came back from it rather sick and croaking at everyone (‘for someone who’s lost his voice, you certainly are talking a lot’ was a comment made to me by one of my travelling companions. It takes a lot to shut me up.) 30 hours travelling each way by train and car was a bit exhausting, and the days were full of talks, worship, ministry and lots and lots of personal encounters. We all got back tired but happy.
It was fantastic. Anyone out there reading this who has any presence of CCO in your vicinity (this is Catholic Christian Outreach, a Canadian Catholic university mission group, for those in the rest of the world), get involved with them. Help them, financially if you can, since each CCO missionary has to raise his or her own salary. Send searching young people their way. If you are a searching young person, look for them. They have a simple, brilliant, proven-to-work way of introducing the basic Christian proclamation to young people, bringing them to commit their lives to Christ, and then calling them to embrace the missionary call of the Church. They are, truly, awesome.
Anyhow, the whole experience was very much about what Ratzinger writes of so powerfully above. The truth of our being, which never changes from age to age, and which we urgently need to embrace ourselves and communicate to others. Bowing down low before God in worship, and out of that bowing low, receiving his Spirit so as to go out to the ends of the earth to bring his love and mercy to the world, starting with our next door neighbours, preferably.
But it starts with bowing down low. It starts with a communion of love that is not a relationship between equals, but an encounter of our littleness with his greatness, our weakness with his majesty, our nothingness with him who is everything.
This is the profound core truth of humanity, and the one who shows us this truth is Mary, the Mother of God. The modern world wishes to establish a mode of human life without God-we call it secularism; she is our response to the modern world in this fool’s dream it has. As De Lubac put it in The Drama of Atheist Humanism, “Man cannot organize the world for himself without God; without God he can only organize the world against man. Exclusive humanism is inhuman humanism.”
When we lose our core human reality of being open to the Absolute, to that which utterly transcends not only ourselves but all created reality, that opens us up to eternity and infinity, that which is above and before and beyond all that is—when we lose that, we are reduced to nothing more than an animal that can do sums and build stuff.
It is the very act of worship, of bowing down, of humbling ourselves before God, of abasing ourselves before the Mighty One that paradoxically establishes us in our human dignity, the true greatness of the human person, the reality of who we are and what we are made for—communion with the One who is Lord of all and who desires to establish us in royal dignity in his eternal kingdom.
So… come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.