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Vol. I, Apr. 1995

 

Sharing the Mind of Christ

Dear Brothers in the Priesthood!

1. "The liturgy is the summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the fount from which all her power flows" (CCC. 1074).

The liturgical year, which celebrates the life of the Lord, reaches its acme this month, introducing us into the total surrender of our Lord, into His love unto the last. By the paschal mystery of His Death, Resurrection and Ascension Christ accomplished the work of our redemption and the perfect glorification of God. His death truly destroyed our death; His resurrection truly restores our life (cf. CCC. 1067, 1168-78). The liturgy aspires "to be a guide into the mystery of Christ, and thus it leads us from the visible to the invisible, from the signs to the designated, from the ‘sacraments’ to the ‘mysteries’" (CCC. 1075).

2. In our last Circular we sought to renew our devotion to this mystery of the Passio Domini. It is certainly Christ’s wish to associate us, to introduce us more deeply into His physical, mental and spiritual sufferings. Who can comprehend what it means, that He, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, suffered death?

Today we wish to consider another vantage, which comes from sharing the mind of Christ (Cf. Phil 2,5), and consists in looking with Him from the Cross down into creation. Here our Lord directed His Mother to channel all her love for Him to His Disciple, ‘her son’. Thus we may say: as Mary loved Christ, so she now loves us. In this perspective we may follow the loving glance of our Lord over the darkened earth, we can follow the course of His Precious Blood flowing from His opened Heart like the healing stream from the east side of the temple that healed and made all things fruitful (Ezec 46,6).

How our Lord thirsted for the realization of this prophetic vision. How our Lady prayed and added her tears to the flow of this divine longing. St John and all the disciples, caught up by this stream of grace, brought the fruits of Redemption to the ends of the earth (cf. Mk 16,15); but not alone, for the Apocalypse shows us that the Holy Angels have an integral part on this salvific mission issuing from the Lamb.

This fruit should be the transformation from the earthly to the heavenly; from the temporal to the everlasting; from from the sickliness of sin to holiness! Spiritual darkness. Christian ‘theory’ should now become practice thanks to the empowering self-denial of Jesus on the Cross. The heavy burden of our ‘flesh’ should be transfigured by the glorified Body of the Risen Lord. This fruit should also include a deeper communion within creation, among men and angels, since all things are recapitulated in Christ.

3. What an honor it was for the angels to assist our Lord in His ministry, to strengthen Him in the Garden (while His newly ordained priests slept), to announce His resurrection (while they shrunk in fear) and Ascension.

  1. Truly they were the first messengers of Hope, of the Resurrection. Pope John Paul II calls them "the angels of the life, suffering and glorification of Christ."1 "In the key moments they surround Christ and accompany Him in the fulfillment of His salvific mission in regard to mankind. In the same way the whole of Tradition and the ordinary Magisterium of the Church down the centuries has attributed to the angels this particular character and this function of Messianic ministry."2
  2. Now, we poor priests, sons of Mary, who through her maternal mediation have been configured to Christ the High Priest in the Sign of His Cross, also exercise a ‘messianic ministry,’ one complemented by that of the angels and more concentrated in the depths of the Incarnation, dispensing grace as we do, through the ‘incarnate’ signs of the sacraments. Evidently, it is not a question of angels or priests, but rather the question of priests and angels, our fellow servants. By divine design, man cannot be substituted by the angels, neither as sacrificial priests, nor as pastors nor as prophetic proclaimers of the Word of God. Still, we beg God to command His holy angel to take the sacrifice from our altar and present it on the heavenly altar before the divine Majesty so that we may be filled with every heavenly grace and blessing.3 We acknowledge that the holy angels watch over, protect and guide the faithful as a shepherd does his flock. We affirm with St. Thomas and tradition that divine illuminations come to us through the mediation of the celestial hierarchy.4
  3. Hence, it is not a question of the angels or us priests, but rather a matter of a sacred symbiosis: the holy angels and and us priests.

 

4. Therefore, let us approach this in two ways:

  1. Even as the heavenly liturgy constitutes the first love and ministry of the Holy Angels, so let the solemnity and dignity of the liturgy be also one of our principal concerns. Our Liturgy is a participation in Christ’s heavenly liturgy (cf. Vatican II, SC.8; CCC 1090); we celebrate it together with them in His presence. Let us be one in adoration, let us reflect their reverence. Let us be so animated with gratitude and esteem for the sacred mysteries and the sacraments, that the faithful are filled with pride in being Catholic and rejoice to come and be united with the whole Mystical Body in the celebration of the liturgy. Here we should find a foretaste of heaven, this should be our home: "Why this is the very house of God and the Gate of Heaven" (The exclamation of Jacob after beholding the heavenly ladder of the Holy Angels. Gen 28,17). How much greater is the reality of our union in the Eucharist.
  2. To achieve this goal, we must first strive to live this union with the holy angels personally. What does this mean? Let us look to them, as they were present in the paschal events and so teach us through their example:

    They always appeared in white garments. This indicates the necessity for purity. For this we need to regularly implore the fruits of redemption also for ourselves through the Sacrament of Penance, a gift from Easter Sunday (cf. Jn 20,23). This purity is presupposed to all the angelic characteristics in our priestly life and service. Then and now, it is this purity which allows us to irradiate the joy of the redeemed children of God, the sons of light (cf. Eph 5,8f).

    The angels of the gospels are only seen in the presence of the Lord, always ready to help Him at any moment: in His sufferings (cf. Mt. 26,53), conspicuously present near His tomb. We too ought to be associated with the Church and altar (symbol for Christ's tomb); there is where the people should be able to find us, ever available for them, the mystical presence of Christ.

    They strengthened the Lord in His agony; they showed compassion to Mary Magdalen. What an example for our pastoral love and care for all, but especially for the sick, the searching, the afflicted.

    They announced the death and resurrection of our Lord, not by their own testimony, but by calling to mind the very words of the Lord! The faithful preaching of the entire truth, namely that truth, Christ brought from heaven and which the Holy Church has transmitted down through the centuries will characterize those guided by the angels. Our life, work and word should be wholly transparent (cf. Pastores dabo vobis, 15, 26, 28, 30). It is a perennial, indeed, an eternal gospel, that has the power of divine life.

When we accept our priestly mission and try to fulfill it Jesus' name and as sons of our Lady, then we can and should count on the presence and help of the hl. angels. Even more: we should ask them to guide us even as they guided the apostles after Jesus left them. They guided them as a groups (Acts 1,10f), but also individually: for example, St. Peter (Acts 10-12), St. Paul (cf. Acts 27,23) and St. John (Apoc 1,1). Let us pray to them daily. Let us entrust our entire priestly ministry every morning to them. Let us give them the opportunity to truly be our "fellow servants" at any and every moment of the day!

Fr. Titus Kieninger, ORC

1. General Audience. L'Osservatory Romano, Aug. 30, 1986 (translation from the Italian Original).

2. Ibid.

3. Cf. Roman Missal. First Eucharistic Prayer.

4. Cf. Summa Theologica. II.II172,2.