Under the Cover of Light

O God, who willed your Son to submit for our sake
to the yoke of the Cross,
so that you might drive from us the power of the enemy,
grant us, your servants, to attain the grace of the resurrection.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

In a sense, Spy Wednesday commemorates the most notorious conspiracy ever concieved.  The Puppet Master from hell inflamed the pride of Judas and the Sanhedrin and entwined them in a diabolical scheme for the death of the Son of Man.  Operating in bad faith, on the basis of a purely human prudence, the betrayer and the enemies of Jesus work under the cover of darkness.

But nothing is hidden from the Son of God.  He knows his betrayer’s heart and the plans hidden in the recesses of his corrupt conscience.  But this Our Lord keeps between Himself and the traitor.  While He chooses not to expose the hidden sinner and even allows Judas to receive the Holy Communion at the Last Supper, Christ does confront him directly: What you are about to do, do quickly (Jn 13:27). Continue reading

Truce of God

couple-fighting.jpg

Hear ye! Hear ye! Here ye!

Ladys and Lords of the household you are hearby ordered by decree of the King of Kings to defer all hostilities until Monday of Eastertide, being the first day of the Paschal Octave. Out of reverence for the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection all violence and revenge, domestic or otherwise, from Vespers of Spy Wednesday till daybreak of Easter Monday shall be considered reprehensible and unchristian.

Chesterton said two things that are apropos here: first, that chivalry is the baptism of feudalism, the Christianization of the military ferocity of the feudal system. The Medieval Truce of God (here, here and here, the last one is pretty funny) was an effort on the part of clerics and monks to control the knights and prevent them from amusing themselves at the peasants’ expense. Thus, the Truce was a way of preventing chivalry, which was always a delicate commodity, from being entirely undermined.

Secondly, Chesterton reminds us that the real adventure is not fighting dragons, but surviving in marriage. Here are some priceless tidbits:

“The whole pleasure of marriage is that it is a perpetual crisis.” – “David Copperfield,” Chesterton on Dickens, 1911

“Marriage is a duel to the death which no man of honour should decline.” – Manalive

“I have little doubt that when St. George had killed the dragon he was heartily afraid of the princess.” – The Victorian Age in Literature

“Marriage is an adventure, like going to war.” – (This might be a paraphrase)

Ephesians 5, gentlemen. Lay down your lives. And ladies, obey and honor your heroes.

The Easter Triduum = Ephesians 5. Think about it. Think Christ and the Blessed Mother.

Traitor!

judas.jpg

Today is Spy Wednesday, so called because of the conspiracy hatched by Judas with the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus for thirty-pieces of silver. Judas was paid even before he delivered Our Savior to His enemies. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him (Matt.24:16).

Much speculation is tossed around today about the fate of the miserable traitor. In spite of the almost universal agreement of the Fathers and the teaching of the likes of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure, there are those who feel it is important to depopulate hell. In spite of Our Lord’s own words: The Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born (Matt. 26:24), there still those who want to rehabilitate Judas.

And then, of course, there is the National Geographic Society, that powerhouse of “scientific inquiry” that has attempted to enlighten benighted Christians to the effect that Judas is not a traitor at all, but a hero! And, of course, they so piously reserved the revelation of their “discovery” for Easter of last year.

My point is not to revel in the thought of the fact that Judas is in hell. I am all for hope, and we need much of it today; however, one of the snares in the spiritual life is to swing between presumption and despair. Hope is in the middle. It is a severe and determined realism. Judas was not a victim, and he does not deserve rehabilitation. There are virtually no signs of his salvation is Sacred Scripture. His throwing the silver pieces back at the Sanhedrin and his declaration that he had betrayed innocent blood, led not to his repentance, but to his suicide.

In moral theology a distinction is made between true contrition and defective contrition or remorse. Remorse, that is, regret for having sinned, does not necessarily amount to conversion and repentance. There is always the need to seek forgiveness and to make amends. Judas did none of this. I have no problem with rational arguments, but touchy-feely sentimentality will not aid us in the salvation of our souls.

How about this for Holy Week paraliturgical sentimentality?

In Poland, the young people throw an effigy of Judas from the top of a church steeple. Then it is dragged through the village amidst hurling sticks and stones. What remains of the effigy is drowned in nearby stream or pond.

None of this is to say that I have a right to act as though I am so far above it all, and casually blog about the reprobate God-killer. This is the Week of Mercy, and we all need it!

St. Philip Neri, the saint who at the end of his life died of love (his heart ruptured), used to pray this every morning: “O Jesus, watch over me always, especially today, or I shall betray you like Judas.”