Wednesday 1st October 2014

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

In The Beginning . . .

December 17, 2013 Frontpage No Comments

By GEORGE A. KENDALL

When we think about the beginnings of things, something those of us with philosophical predilections tend to spend a lot of time doing, a sense of deep mystery comes over us. That is especially the case when it is our own personal beginnings that we contemplate as we reflect on our memories of early childhood, something that we become more and more prone to in old age — paradoxically, as the end gets closer, so does the beginning.
That kind of reflection can easily degenerate into an exercise in self-absorption, a kind of navel-gazing. Yet, done rightly, it can also lead to real insight into who we are and what our relationship is to the reality in which we live. Now, of course, those memories have been overlaid with many years of reflection and analysis by our more mature, even elderly, selves, and we can always question how much was actually there when we were children, and how much we have read into our childhood experiences. And yet, I believe they do reveal things about our fundamental reality as creatures and children of God.
There is something profoundly mysterious in my memories of early childhood. I have this recollection of myself in the very process of emerging into consciousness, or at least a kind of consciousness that made it possible to begin to store memories. And yet it is different from my adult consciousness. What seems to be missing is the questioning of things. At least, I recall being aware of the world and of myself but without really wondering how either got here. Everything is simply given, simply present. Everything has just always been there. That includes these people I call mommy and daddy. I don’t really wonder who they are outside the context of their relationship to me and my dependence on them, or how they got there. Everything is simply presence, simply gift.
This sense of being enveloped by a mysterious order that nurtures and upholds us is ultimately the encounter with transcendence, with God, however little a small child may be able to name it or articulate it. That order behind and embedded in all things is the Word, which is in the beginning, which is with God and is God. It is simply there, it is simply presence, it is simply gift. In T.S. Eliot’s beautiful words:

If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
If the unheard, unspoken
Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.

We are now in the season when we celebrate, in a special way, the Incarnation of the Word of God, the Word’s supreme act of becoming Flesh and dwelling among us. In celebrating this, we are celebrating, I would argue, the beginning before all beginnings — “before” in the sense of taking precedence over, being more ultimate, being prior, in being, to everything, though not necessarily prior in time. Minor things like the creation of the world or my own entry into the world are not absolutely fundamental realities in the same way that the Incarnation is. Let us reflect a bit on this.
Many theologians, over the centuries, have maintained that the Incarnation was not just some kind of plan B that God put in place when man fell into sin, something that would not have been necessary in an unfallen world. On the contrary, God created us for friendship, communion with Him (Scripture even says of the Wisdom of God, which the Church has always identified with the Second Person of the Trinity, as “rejoicing in his inhabited world, and delighting in the sons of men” [Prov. 8:31].) That being the case, it was always God’s plan to become united to mankind in a way far more intimate than the relationship we see depicted in Genesis, by becoming man Himself, in the person of the Word, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. The community of mankind with the Incarnate Word is thus the fundamental reality in which we live and move and have our being; it is, for us, the absolute beginning, though, in time, the creation of the world came first (but it was present, from eternity, in the mind of God).
Of course, had mankind not fallen, the suffering and death of Christ would not have been necessary. Having come unto His own, His own would have received Him joyfully, not with hatred and rejection. But the Incarnation would still have happened. The relationship we have to Christ, and to one another in Christ, is the most fundamental relationship there is, even in the lives of those who do not know about it or who reject it. It is the beginning beyond all beginnings.
The modern world thinks of society as a collection of autonomous individuals, each of whom is responsible only for those relationships he personally chooses to enter into, and only for so long as he wants those relationships to continue. Even on the natural level, that is not the way things are. Christianity, and even paganism (by which I mean the real paganism, not the “neo-paganism” which has become a trendy pseudo-religion today), has always understood that we are born into a world of relationships which we did not choose but which we are called to participate in, to nurture and care for — what are called institutions.
At the supernatural level, we are born into a world in which the Incarnation of the Word of God is the fundamental reality, a reality within which we are called to a whole new relationship to the Word and to one another — the body of Christ, the Church, the Kingdom of God. We are not of course born into the Body of Christ (becoming a member of that requires a free decision on the part of each of us) but we are born into a world where that relationship is always there for those of us who choose it, it is always there as that to which we are called.
Now the fundamental relationships are always about the gift of self, and that is far more the case when we are talking about our relationship to the Incarnate Word. That relationship is not just a personal, individual relationship to the Word but is also a communion with one another in the Word. Hence nothing is more appropriate than the custom of celebrating the Incarnation by exchanging gifts. But the gifts we exchange have value principally if they stand for the gift of ourselves, which is why homemade Christmas presents are always the best. When the exchange of gifts becomes a kind of competition to see who can spend the most money on the most up-to-date, “cutting-edge” gadgets, then the sense of the communion of mankind in the Incarnate Word has been lost.
We live in a time when that sense of communion is under relentless attack, and that can only get worse, which means it is a time for taking ourselves back to the beginning, the Word, and proclaiming to all: “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the Word was God.”

+    +    +

(© 2012 George A. Kendall)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Cardinal Burke Rebuts ‘Outrageous’ Claim That Cardinal Kasper Speaks For Pope

burk

Cardinal Raymond Burke strongly defended his criticism of the “Kasper proposal,” and said it was “outrageous” for Cardinal Walter Kasper to suggest that such criticism was actually aimed at Pope Francis, during a teleconference with reporters on September 30. “I…Continue Reading

There Are Dirty Political Games Behind The Iraq Conflict, Says Chaldean Patriarch Sako

Louis Raphael I warns: Our Church risks disappearing and not just because of the jihadists Gianni Valente Rome “There’s no future for us if the Lord does not help us.” There’s suffering and concern in Louis Raphaël I Sako’s words.…Continue Reading

On the Way to a Troubled Synod

synod

Cardinal Newman once remarked that anyone boarding the Barque of Peter shouldn’t look too closely at the engine room. Sometimes when there are storms brewing in the Vatican – as there are right now over the Synod on the Family…Continue Reading

Liberalism, Choice and Compulsion

Social liberals consider traditional moral restrictions cruel in their very essence. Each of us, they believe, should be as free as possible to pursue his happiness as he sees it, consistent with the equal ability of others to do the…Continue Reading

Vatican says bishop’s dismissal not the result of sex abuse

By Francis X. Rocca Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican denied Pope Francis had dismissed a controversial Paraguayan bishop because of his mishandling of sex abuse accusations, attributing the decision instead to other failings of governance and…Continue Reading

Padre Pio Was The Opposite Of A Fan-hugging, Autograph-signing Celebrity

Brusque to the point of being rude’, the Italian saint was only interested in one personality – the Son of God By FR ALEXANDER LUCIE-SMITH on Friday, 26 September 2014 There is a somewhat strange passage of scripture which by…Continue Reading

Music Director Hasn’t Resigned Despite Archbishop’s Request

ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) – On Sept. 12, Jamie Manzi-Moore was asked by Archbishop John Nienstedt to resign from the church where he has served as music director for more than 17 years — but he hasn’t done it yet.…Continue Reading

“The Teachings Of The Church Must Be Upheld.”

Minnesota Archbishop Backs Removing Gay Liturgist Who Married Partner LifeSiteNews reported Thursday that Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis backed the removal of parish liturgist Jamie Moore after “marrying” his partner on September 20 in strict violation of the Catholic…Continue Reading

State Medical Board Lets Clinic Get Away With Killing Woman in Botched Abortion

The State Medical Board of Ohio has stunned pro-life supporters by dropping all complaints related to the death of abortion patient Lakisha Wilson. Those who filed complaints seeking an investigation into Wilson’s death at Preterm, a Cleveland abortion facility, have…Continue Reading

Former Crystal Cathedral Undergoing Catholic Makeover

(CNA/EWTN News) – “Through this innovative design process an insightful plan has emerged that will establish Christ Cathedral as a place for involvement in the sacraments, a place to hear the Word of God proclaimed and a place for personal…Continue Reading

True Mercy and the Indissolubility of Marriage

September 25, 2014 In his foreword to a new book, Cardinal George Pell argues that “one cannot maintain the indissolubility of marriage by allowing the ‘remarried’ to receive Holy Communion.” Cardinal George Pell The following appears as the foreword to…Continue Reading

Professor Douglas Kries on Cupich

Well, this is interesting.  Professor Douglas Kries at Gonzaga University in Spokane gives his assessment of Bishop Blase Cupich, the Spokane Bishop tapped to head the Chicago Archdiocese: Bishop White Seminary at Gonzaga, which was nothing short of an extraordinary…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Today . . .

Pope At Santa Marta: The Angels Defend Us

pope532

(Vatican Radio) The angels battle Satan for the destiny of mankind and win.  They defend and custody  the greatest mystery of the Church, God-made-Man.  Even though in Satan often presents “humanistic explanations” for his attacks on mankind.  This was the focus of Pope Francis homily at Mass Monday morning at Casa Santa Marta, marking the Feast of the Holy Archangels…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Synod Prayer To Holy Family

pope531

      _________________(Vatican Radio) Sunday, 28 September is to be set aside as a Day of Prayer for the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, scheduled to take place from 5 to 219 October to treat the topic: The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization. The Holy See on Saturday released a prayer guide,…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke Says… Media Are Hijacking Synod On The Family

By ANN SCHNEIBLE VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) — The upcoming Synod on the Family has undergone an attempted hijacking by some media sources, which are fueling expectations that impossible changes will be made to Church doctrine, said the head of the Church’s highest court. “I don’t think you have to be brilliant to see that…Continue Reading

Mistakes Of The Past Are Back

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO What if the American invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction? What if whatever weapons of mass destruction Saddam Hussein once had were sold to him in the 1980s by American arms dealers with the express permission of the U.S. government? What if he no longer…Continue Reading

Is Burger King An Economic Patriot?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN “Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains.” Jefferson’s brutal verdict comes to mind in the fierce debate over inversions, those decisions by U.S. companies to buy foreign firms to move their headquarters abroad…Continue Reading

How The Eastern Orthodox Misunderstand Catholic Marian Doctrine

By JAMES LIKOUDIS It is not only Protestants who seriously misunderstand the Marian doctrines of the Catholic Church. Surprisingly, various Eastern Orthodox who have traditionally manifested a deep and devout veneration of the Theotokos (Mother of God) are seen to deviate from their own ancient traditions. Thus one finds astonishing the views of Archbishop John…Continue Reading

Where Do We Begin?

By DONALD DeMARCO It often happens that the statement of a perceptive writer becomes more true many years after he originally framed it. Such is the case with George Orwell. The author of 1984, which he penned in 1948, stated: “We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Reparation For Black Mass . . . “The Chaotic Forces Of Evil Are Very Real”

By MOST REV. PAUL COAKLEY (Editor’s Note: The black mass took place as scheduled Sunday, September 21 in Oklahoma City’s Civic Center. Various news outlets reported that hundreds protested against the black mass while only dozens attended it. Below we reprint Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul Coakley’s September 18 statement, followed by his homily at the holy hour held shortly before…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World . . . God Does Not Come Through The Computer

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Virtual reality can never serve as “parish replacement therapy” for “Catholics on leave.” Many believers remain alienated as a result of personal choices from the life of the Church. Some of them have been known to post about their frustrations on Facebook, writing such things as, “Continue to wait for answers…” God, however, does not…Continue Reading

Priestly Celibacy: Unnatural? Or…Supernatural? The Biblical Foundations Of Celibacy: Summing Up

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 6 MThe Catholic priesthood is God’s holy calling (2 Tim. 1:5-9) to some men to follow Jesus’ footsteps more closely (St. Augustine). The priest is called to be an angel of the Lord, always keeping His Law in his mouth (Mal. 2:7). A truly celibate priest is one who is a real man, who…Continue Reading

Catechism Of the Catholic Church: Prologue

By Don Fier “Father, . . . this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ” (John 17:3). This Scripture verse, the opening words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), succinctly and beautifully expresses its very purpose. The CCC’s first paragraph goes on to expand on…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. What do you know about the Concordant Literal Version of the Bible? — G.P., Florida. A. It is published by the Concordant Publishing Concern in Almont, Mich., which describes itself as “a nondenominational, nonprofit association founded in 1909 for the purpose of disseminating the facts and truths of the ancient manuscripts of the Scriptures.” The company’s website says that…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Therese of Lisieux, The Little Flower

By CAROLE BRESLIN As you drive into Lisieux, France, from Caen on highway D613, you can see clearly the Basilica of Lisieux — it dominates the landscape rising high above the hills and other buildings. A little to the north is the cathedral where Therese received her sacraments and where her family dedicated an altar. A little farther north is…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Saints Cosmas And Damian

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the last book of the Old Testament, 2 Maccabees, we read of the mother who stood by her seven sons, encouraging them to hold true to the law of their fathers and not give in to the attempts of Antiochus IV Epiphanes to get them to abandon their faith by eating the flesh of a swine…Continue Reading

What to Do If Your Boyfriend Wants You to Get an Abortion?

by Krisi Burton Brown | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 2/20/14 4:00 PM Washington, DC (LiveActionNews) — Note: This article is for any girl or woman who is feeling pressured into having an abortion. If you are a guy who is trying to find out how to stop an abortion, please see this article written for dads. 1.  Stand your…Continue Reading

It’s Time to Build Schools, from the Ground Up

February 13, 2014 by Anthony Esolen   It might have been worth repairing, if it had once been noble and beautiful, or at least conceived in an orderly way, for ordinary human purposes. But it wasn’t. It was constructed upon false principles. Its walls looked like those of a bad factory. It smelled like a warehouse. It could be terribly…Continue Reading

Why I am Pro-Life

February 4, 2014   Pro-Lifers   By Therese Recinella   Editor’s note. This tribute was posted on Therese Recinella’s Facebook account. She is graciously allowing us to reprint it in NRL News Today.   There are many things that I could say about my Dad, but what I want people to know is this: My parents faithfully raised 8 children…Continue Reading

Fathers . . . The Essential Role of the Father

Posted on February 10, 2014 by The Catholic Gentleman 13 Comments   Divorce rates skyrocketing; adultery rampant; non-married cohabitating couples; children abandoned by their fathers or mothers; “same-sex unions” adopting children and calling this the “modern family”; pornography invading homes, leading to powerful addictions and total alienation from other members of the family: all of this is a bird’s eye view…Continue Reading

How Much is One Billion Dollars?

This article appeared in the March 20, 1941 issue of The Wanderer. (Well, 70 years later we can add 15 trillion into the example.) Here’s a simple and homely illustration of what one billion dollars amounts to: Suppose we take an imaginary boy, aged 15 years, and assign to him the task of counting one billion dollars in one-dollar bills.…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood

This article appeared in The Wanderer, April 3, 1941.  (WOW, Look what we have 70 years later.) A group which calls itself the National Committee for Planned Parenthood has begun a nationwide campaign to have the promotion of birth control included in State and national health programs. The committee—which, according to propaganda sheets reaching our desk has a branch in…Continue Reading

Questions of Non-Catholics . . . Answered by Father Richard Felix, O.S.B.

Reprinted from The Wanderer April 10, 1941 Why Does God allow us to be tempted? God allows us to be tempted so that we may prove our attachment to him and merit a higher place in heaven. Temptations are the lot of all men; they are the battle ground upon which heaven is won or lost. “The kingdom of heaven…Continue Reading