As dioceses across the country are beginning to re-open our churches and return to the public celebration of the Eucharist, some people are wondering what will happen. Will people have gotten used to staying home on Sunday? Will they wake up to the fact that the Eucharist never really mattered that much to them, since they so quickly got used to not receiving it? Or will they wake up to the fact of how much they value the Eucharist, because, once deprived of the opportunity to participate, they found they developed a hunger for it more quickly than they expected?
Classes resumed at the University of Notre Dame after the conclusion of an extended Spring Break. My large lecture class, 230 students strong, called “The Catholic Faith,” resumed with the rest of our classes. I showed up to my usual classroom at the usual class time with my usual feeling of nervousness before teaching. I prepared the blackboard as usual, with the topic for the day, “The Descent into Hell, The Resurrection, and the Ascension of the Lord.” Our class is based on the Apostles’ Creed. We have reached the end of the second article. I put on the screen an image of the two classical icons of the Resurrection, the one of Christ descending into Hell and liberating Adam and Eve from the kingdom of the dead, and the one of the Spice-Bearing Women, come, as they thought, to anoint the body of the Lord. At the appointed moment, I started my lecture.
Editorial Note: This post was originally delivered as a reflection for Palm Sunday on Sunday, April 5, 2020.
“He emptied Himself,” Paul tells us in the second reading from Philippians (2:7). Who “emptied Himself?” “Christ Jesus,” Paul says, “though he was in the form of God.” The Creed explains what this means: in other words, “though He was in the form of God” because he was the “Son of God, God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father,”—“Christ Jesus” in the “form of God” is that one the Creed speaks of, truly God from all eternity in the permanent bliss and blessedness that belongs to God the Trinity as an eternal exchange of the most intimate love.
Editorial Note: This post is a part of our saint devotion series, in which one of our staff or faculty members explores their relationship with a particular saint.
St. Joseph is my favorite saint. He is my “best friend” among the saints, if the saints are our “friends.” I love him better than all the rest, and it’s OK, because, as St. Bernadette used to say, “there is no jealousy in Heaven.” But I cringe when someone asks me to write about him. I love St. Joseph so very much because his life is thoroughly “hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). He hides himself. We know him as someone who does not speak, who does not represent himself, who does not tell his own story, who gives up giving an account of himself. In this way, his life is a whole burnt offering, speaking to us only by not speaking.
If you are like me, the news of Jean Vanier’s abuse and manipulation of six women receiving spiritual direction was a gut-wrenching combination of disappointment, disillusionment, and disgust.
In the face of seemingly endless iterations of scandal in the Church, there was at least Jean Vanier. He was one of the beacons of hope and renewal and reform, a layman who had succeeded in creating, in L’Arche, a new form of communion and evangelization. A real lay leader in the Church. Someone whom we thought of as a harbinger of the ideals of “co-responsibility for the being and acting of the Church,” to use Pope Benedict’s words.
Here was hope for a new vision of leadership in the Church. But even this hope was dashed. Back to the drawing board. Find another beacon of hope and harbinger of renewal. But we’re running out! I thought. Where do we go from here?