30 March 2013


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 46

When I said that I had a readalong post "scheduled" for Good Friday, what I meant was that I had penciled in "Write the post on Chapter VIII" at the top of my list of things to do during the Triduum. As you can see from the date on this post (which is backdated as it is), it didn't quite work out that way. Which is probably better. I took a leave from work so I could take part in the Good Friday solemnities; surely I could take a leave from blogging as well?

Now that we're almost back to normal, let's proceed to the next chapter of Pope Benedict XVI's Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week . . .

Chapter VIII

This chapter on Jesus's Crucifixion and death is the longest one in the entire book--and every section could take up a week in a well-structured Lenten retreat. This post, however, shall be the shortest one in the entire readalong. =P

Predictably, my favourite parts were those on the development of our understanding. As Pope Benedict has noted, we were in denial about Jesus's Passion whenever He preached about it, utterly bewildered by the Crucifixion while it was happening, and still kind of lost even after we had gaude-d out at the Resurrection. It took decades for our mortal eyes to adjust to the brightness of this divine act--for "meaning [to triumph] over the power of destruction and evil"--and that was mostly in the sense that some bishops received this grace as a charism of the Holy Spirit and spread this teaching through writing and the spoken word. I'd love to take a really intensive paper on this.

While the refining of the theology and the effects this has had on our worship are extremely important, I hope that the rest of our discussion can focus on the equally essential "existential dimension"--if only because we're not all top-tier theologians here.

What does this mean for me? What does this mean for my path as a human being? The incarnate obedience of Christ is presented as an open space into which we are admitted and through which our own lives find a new context. The mystery of the Cross does not simply confront us; rather, it draws us in and gives a new value to our life.

Of course, to the early Church, the mystery of the Cross in Christian life meant martyrdom. Pope Benedict mentions, in particular, St. Paul, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Polycarp, and St. Lawrence. We cannot separate their witness from the message of the New Testament any more than we can separate the reality of our lives from the truth we believe in.

Question of the Day: How does the mystery of the Cross give new meaning to your life?

Image Source: Crucifixion by Giotto


Spacetraveller said...


Now I understand why we go through the annual ritual of commemorating events in Christ's life - Christmas, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, etc.

Like the kid who said to her Mum, 'Why do we have to eat everyday?' I now know why we have to go through Lent every year. It is to remind us that we really have only the Cross to rely on for our salvation.
It is an efficient way of demystifying this truism for us - without us having to do the work ourselves.
The other activities of life only serve to distract us from this.
So having a regular structure that is the Church's calendar drags us back to what is important...

So, to answer your question in my usual longwinded way (lol), the mystery of the Cross is ... not a mystery (anymore)!

I am so sorry I haven't got my paws on Volume 2!
But I shall readalong anyway with you :-)
Thank you.

Enbrethiliel said...


Hello again, Spacetraveller! Happy Easter!

I agree that the liturgy of Lent is an essential reminder for those of us who may need one--but also a very rich "reentering" into the mystery of the Cross for those of us who always remember. And I agree with you about so much of the work having already been done for us by those who came before, which is why I'm so passionate about preserving it.

There are two posts left to go in the readalong, so I hope to still see you around! =)