Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 10, 2008
Sacraments are windows into God's glory
By GLEN ARGAN
“For those who have faith, the world is nothing less than the glass transparent of God.”
- Fr. Stefano Penna
Just as stone is forged through fire into glass so the “cross of death becomes melted once again in the fire of love,” Penna said.
“This is the way our God sacraments the world, offers his community of love to us for encounter – through a furnace of love.”
All this can be seen in daily life – “Picking up after a teenage grandson; fielding a call from the abyss of schizophrenia; scraping frost from the neighbour’s windshield; hearing in economic downturn a call to deeper charity; walking with a couple who know little faith on a journey to an altar; sitting in the quiet Presence pricked by a little red light: clothing naked, feeding hungry, visiting sick, welcoming strangers.”
The Latin notion of sacrament gives voice to the Greek word “mysterion.”
“Mysterion” evokes secret encounters with the gods, “ritual permitted only to the elect,” said Penna.
“Jesus Christ takes the word ‘mysterion’ and moves from the darkness of secrecy and exclusion and on the cross pours it into the world.”
Sacrament is not secret, “but sings from the housetops and hills.” Sacrament “has nothing to do with darkness but only light.”
Sacraments reflect what the Church is and the Church reflects what Christ is – “the light that has come into the dark matter of the world and made it into the light glory of God.”
Through the sacraments, “thin gruel becomes grape-wine and robust bread, bleakness becomes light at play and what was thin now pulses with the vital Body and Blood of the flesh of Christ.”
Through the sacraments, “the darkness of the confusion of life’s journey” becomes transparent of the glory of God.
In the words of absolution in the sacrament of Reconciliation, “drudge gives way to dance, judgment to joy.”
In the words of anointing in the Sacrament of the Sick, “where there was sickness now there is light. Sickness has become a proclamation – Saved! Suffering gives way to meaning and death is swallowed up in eternity’s victory.”
Penna spoke of the medieval Gothic cathedrals with “their soaring walls with no room for paintings or decoration. There was only room for windows.” Heaven was not something painted on stone.
The structure of the Gothic churches symbolized how the world works, he said. In their stained glass windows, light, instead of being concealed by matter, is an active force that transforms matter into beauty. Such churches were “a symphony in stone.”
They showed how the world works, he said. “For those who have faith, the world is nothing less than the glass transparent of God.”
Likewise, the stained glass is “transparent, charged, showing that the world is the glorious playground of God.”
Those who built the current chapel for the college and seminary knew only about wood and brick, Penna said. Even so, the chapel is dominated by light.
“Will our new chapel be filled with light? Yes. But that is not the question tonight. Will our lives be such? Will our lives be sacrament, be light?”
Are we medieval cathedrals who see ourselves as built in reflection of the glory of God?
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