Sunday, June 24, 2012

At the Catholic Media Conference

At the Catholic Media Conference

The Catholic Media Conference took place in Indianapolis from June 20 to 22, with about 400 attendees (my very rough guess--but Tim Walter, executive director of the Catholic Press Assn., told me that CPA was just shy of 300 registered participants; unless I misunderstood and that figure was for both associations involved).

The convention is sponsored annually by the CPA and the Catholic Academy of Communications Arts Professionals, and most of the attendees came from those 2 organizations, naturally.  We were also blessed by very active presence of Abp. Claudio Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and his chief assistant, Msgr. Paul Tighe, and of several bishops either as speakers or as celebrants or as attendees: Abp. Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, Bp. Christopher Coyne of Indianapolis, Bp. Timothy Doherty of Lafayette (Ind.), Bp. Kevin Rhoades of Ft. Wayne-South Bend, and Bp. Ronald Herzog of Alexandria (La.).

I took a lot of photos of the meeting, the city, and our hotel (the Crowne Plaza at Historic Union Station). Here's a link to convention shots (I hope!):
and one to city and hotel shots:

While I'd like to go into details about the convention, I'm not ready to do that.  So here's the next best thing:  links to Deacon Greg Kandra's reporting:    (You can get Bp. Coyne's homily direct and entire at    Full text at    For some audio from that panel, supplied by Matt Palmer of Baltimore's Catholic Review:
Elizabeth Scalia, aka The Anchoress, reports a bit too:

More from Deacon Greg:

Other keynotes were given by Carolyn Woo, the new COO of Catholic Relief Services, and Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the K of C, and Abp. Chaput, and homilies by Bps. Doherty (shortest on CMC record, someone said) and Rhoades.

Abp. Chaput's address on religious freedom as summarized by Catholic News Service:
On the eve of the start of the "fortnight for freedom," the U.S. bishops' effort to galvanize Catholics across the country to pray for and learn about religious liberty, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput gave a major address on the topic during the 2012 Catholic Media Conference June 20. Arguing that "religious freedom is a cornerstone of the American experience," Archbishop Chaput said the American founders "saw religious faith as vital to the life of a free people. Liberty and happiness grow organically out of virtue," he said. "And virtue needs a grounding in religious faith." Religious liberty, however, is "more than freedom of worship," Archbishop Chaput continued. "It begins in worship, but it also demands preaching, teaching and service," he said. "It's always personal but never private." This liberty seen as so vital to the nation's founders, Archbishop Chaput said, is now facing threats that are "immediate, serious and real" and are often linked to a hostile reaction to Catholic teachings on sexuality and life issues. Citing an article written by University of Notre Dame law professor Gerry Bradley, Archbishop Chaput said critics of these teachings see them merely as "subjective religious ... that can't be rationally defended ... and should be treated as a form of prejudice."

Full text of the archbishop's speech at

And here's Catholic News Service's short version on Mr. Anderson's speech:
The debate over the federal contraceptive mandate and the fight for religious freedom is not about "a particular policy choice" but is "a debate over the role of religion in American society and the freedom and integrity of the Catholic Church's mission," the head of the Knights of Columbus said June 22. "It's not an ordinary national debate. There's a great deal at stake here," Supreme Knight Carl Anderson told Catholic News Service in an interview in Indianapolis. It is an attempt "to redefine the role of religion in America," he added. Anderson was at the Catholic Media Conference, the annual joint convention of the Catholic Press Association and the Catholic Academy for Communications Arts Professionals. He was scheduled to address the closing banquet of the June 20-22 media gathering. The mandate issued by the Department of Health and Human Services would require most religious employers to provide contraceptives and sterilization free of charge to their employees. To be exempt, a religious organization must have "the inculcation of religious values as its purpose"; primarily employ "persons who share its religious tenets"; primarily serve "persons who share its religious tenets"; and be a nonprofit organization under specific sections of the Internal Revenue Code. Catholics are at the center of the HHS debate right now, he said, but it began with the Lutherans in the Supreme Court case in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, a challenge to a Lutheran school's firing of a teacher. The attempt to more narrowly define who is a religious employee was unanimously rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. Anderson said "virtually every religious denomination" in the U.S. -- "from the Hare Krishnas to the Catholic Church" -- got involved in the case because the position taken by the Obama administration on Hosanna-Tabor, he said, could be characterized as the government's most restrictive definition of religious ministry.'

The Catholic News Agency, carried by the Knights themselves, has a longer report on the speech: 

I took in a master camp on developing a communications strategy for your diocese/order and workshops on reaching young adults, copyediting, copyright law, the above-mentioned one on blogging, and the Eastern Regional meeting of the CPA, besides concelebrating at our 3 Masses (St. John the Evangelist Church, 2 blocks from our hotel, is Indianapolis's oldest Catholic church and a really beautiful one) and doing a lot of visiting with old and new friends in the press (or networking, if you want to call it that).

Someone named Lisa Ranae Shanteau, whom I don't know, took this photo in the copyright law workshop and captured me from behind (you can discuss whether that's the better angle--but at least you can see that I'm awake).

Homily for Solemnity of Birth of John the Baptist

Homily for the Solemnity 
of the Birth of
St. John the Baptist
June 24, 2012
Ursulines, Willow Dr., New Rochelle

“You raised up St. John the Baptist to make ready a nation fit for Christ the Lord…” (Collect).
Naming of John. Artist unknown. "Borrowed" from The Deacon's Bench.

1st, let’s thank the Lord that our translators have ditched “John the Baptizer” and returned to the traditional nomenclature.  (Actually, the Sacramentary never went with “Baptizer”; that was only the hapless 1st run of the NAB, amended when they revised the New Testament.)

Then, let’s thank the Lord for having called us to be his people, partly thru the ministry of John the Baptist.  God’s people is in fact the object or purpose of John’s life, according to our Collect.

Every collect begins with a statement of the mystery or saving event being commemorated on a given day, or a tribute to some divine attribute.  Today we note—and by implication praise God for—his having “raised up St. John the Baptist to make ready a nation fit for Christ the Lord,” and immediately move on to the petition part of the prayer:  “give your people, we pray….”  Thus the Collect identifies us—“God’s people”—with that “nation fit for Christ” which “John the Baptist made ready.”

Here we acknowledge John as the forerunner, as the lamp shining (John 5:35) in a dark place, as the one who points out the Lamb of God (John 1:29-36), as the one who steers his own disciples toward the One who is to come (John 1:19-40).  In his lifestyle, in his preaching, in his spiritual direction (if we may call it that), and finally in his martyrdom John is at the service to Someone greater than he—a service consisting largely in helping people get ready for that Someone, preparing the way.
John the Baptist. Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Turin.
Isn’t that what we’re all supposed to do?  None of us is the Expected One—not even those sometimes called alter Christus (“other Christ”).  Rather, we’re the servants of Christ, or his friends (as he said at the Last Supper [John 15:15], and as John the Baptist referred to himself in a little parable about a bridegroom and best man [John 3:28-30]).  Like John, in our lives, in all the varied forms of our ministry, in our prayer, in our openness to God’s direction in our lives—in all this, we imitate John the Baptist and point to the Lord Jesus as the true Lamb of God, the one who redeems the world from its sins.  We have the mission of making ready a nation fit for Christ the Lord as much as John the Baptist did.  Most of you spent a lifetime doing that in classrooms, and many of you still have the opportunity, the divine opportunity, to continue in other settings.

You all remember Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man” speech—is that in As You Like It?[1]—which credits each person with playing many parts in a lifespan.
The Seven Ages of Man by William Mulready, 1838
We play many parts too—imitating now this saint, now that one.  We might imitate the Virgin Mother in how we treasure God’s Word and meditate upon it; imitate Angela in how we relate to young women; imitate the fearless heart of great St. Teresa.[2]  And in John the Baptist we have a model of pointing always to Jesus in whatever we say and do—if not in words, which we can’t always do or shouldn’t always do, then in our character, our manner, our actions.

The Collect asks God to “direct the hearts of the all the faithful into the way of salvation and peace.”  That’s what John strove to do.  That’s what each of us can still do:  direct our own hearts, direct the hearts of our sisters, friends, alumnae, into God’s saving ways, the pathways of Christ—with God’s help, of course, which is why we make it our prayer.

[1] Good recall!  Specifically, it’s from Act II, scene vii.
[2] St. Teresa of Avila is patroness of the convent.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Homily for 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Homily for the
11th Sunday
in Ordinary Time
June 17, 2012
2 Cor 5: 6-10
Christian Brothers, Iona College, N.R.

“While we are at home in the body, we are away from the Lord” (2 Cor 5:6).

At Eucharistic adoration we often sing “O Salutaris Hostia,” which concludes with the lines vitam sine termino nobis donet in patria, “May he give us life without end in our fatherland,” or as the English translation we usually sing puts it, “Grant us endless length of days in our true native land with thee.”

Those sentiments resemble Paul’s as he writes to his friends and disciples in Corinth; and also what he wrote to the Christians at Philippi:  “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself” (3:20-21).
The Last Sacraments. Fresco in St. Catharine's Church, Spring Lake, N.J.
So we live in this present world, in this earthly body, and we’re rather comfortable here, “at home.”  Paul is no Greek philosopher, regarding the soul as imprisoned in, in a very uneasy with, the body; nor is he a Manichean or Cathar who despises the body and regards it as evil.  In fact, it’s with the body and thru the body that our salvation is worked out.  In recent years Pope John Paul II developed a whole theology called the “theology of the body.”  Nevertheless, our present bodily existence is temporary and conditioned:  “We would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord” (5:8), to our patria, to our Pater.

We live here with a kind of tension, then—unfulfilled because what’s here can’t possibly satisfy us.  What’s here includes loss, suffering, frustration—and the danger of permanent separation from God, from our homeland, from that perfect happiness of which we get fleeting experiences in this life.

Paul twice uses the word “courageous”—tharrountes and tharroumen, which other translations render as “of good courage” or “confident”—for the attitude he brings to this tension, he and those like him who have invested themselves 100% in Jesus Christ:  “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).  Altho he (and we) are in a kind of bodily exile, away from our true home, not as closely united with the Lord as we’d like, yet “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7).  We’re confident, or we’re of good heart, because we know in faith that Christ is with us and is leading us toward his Father’s house, our Father’s place—even if we don’t have the destination in our bodily sight, even if we’re not sure of the road that we have to travel except that we know that Christ is the Way.

“We’d rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.”  Blessed is the disciple who looks forward to his transition, his passage, to the Father’s home, to the place that Jesus has prepared for us (John 14:2-3).  We’ve probably known people who were afraid of dying—whether that fear arose from not knowing what lay ahead, or from the pain that may accompany death, or from the thought of judgment.  That’s certainly understandable, which is why it’s a blessing to walk in such deep faith that we’re not afraid but are longing to complete our pilgrimage.  Not for nothing did JPII say so often, “Be not afraid.”  How wise that song of the ’70s, “Put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the waters.”

In any case, we don’t really “leave the body,” only the body in its present form.  A couple of sportscasters have been credited with the line, “The opera ain’t over until the fat lady sings.”  According to Paul, the opera or the game or the production of our destiny isn’t over until “the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  (Can you hear the Handel chorus in the background?)  For that which is corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and that which is mortal must clothe itself with immortality” and “death [shall be] swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor 15:52-54).  The body will be changed into something immortal, something glorious, something Christ-like, completing all that we’ve been working at our whole lives, to become more and more like Jesus.  About all this we have the confidence of faith, the courage that faith gives us to live in the body, to live in this world, where we have to deal with loss, suffering, temptation, and risk.
The Pilgrim's Progress

Yes, risk, “for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil” (5:10).  No matter our faith, no matter our courage or confidence or good heart, “it ain’t over until the fat lady sings”; we haven’t persevered until we come to the Lord Jesus; our salvation isn’t accomplished until he exclaims, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” (Matt 25:21).  “We aspire to please him” (2 Cor 5:9), but our deeds don’t always match our aspirations, and doing evil remains not merely a possibility, unfortunately, but too often an actuality—which Paul knew very well:  “I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh.  The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not.  For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want” (Rom 7:18-19).

Still, Paul had complete confidence:  “Who will deliver me from this mortal body?  Thanks be to God thru Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 7:24-25).  Confessing his weakness, his susceptibility to sin, he threw himself into the arms of Jesus:  “when I am weak, then I am strong”; God’s grace is sufficient to deal even with our sins (2 Cor 12:9-10).  Or, as the Collect says this evening, God is the “strength of those who hope in [him],” for “without [him] mortal frailty can do nothing.”  So we continue our journey in this temporary home of ours, our mortal bodies, living under judgment, but living in hope that God’s grace is with us—to preserve us from sin and to forgive our sins—so that when we approach our true homeland we may receive the recompense of faithful servants who have pleased him by how we have “followed [his] commands by our resolve and our deeds” (Collect).

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Homily for Solemnity of Corpus Christi

Homily for the Solemnity of
Corpus Christi
June 10, 2012
Ex 24: 3-8
Ursulines, Willow Dr., New Rochelle
Fr. Jonathan Parks. Photographer unknown.

“Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words of his’” (Ex 24:8).

Our 1st reading this morning shows us Israel and the Lord God sealing a covenant between themselves at the foot of Mt. Sinai.  God has just delivered Israel from slavery and from the might of Pharaoh’s chariots; he’s guiding them thru the desert toward the Promised Land where their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob once dwelt and are buried; he undertakes to continue to defend and guide them.

For their part, Israel undertakes obedience:  “We will do everything that the Lord has told us” (Ex 24:3) thru his words to Moses:  the commandments, the rituals, worship of YHWH alone, etc.

If you’ve ever read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, you probably remember that Tom and Huck became blood brothers, cutting their fingers with a knife and mixing their blood, and committed themselves to stand by each other.

That sharing of blood is an ancient idea.  A solemn blood ritual concludes the covenant agreement between YHWH and Israel.  Animals are slaughtered and their blood collected.  Blood represents the life of the creature, and the Hebrews treat blood with extreme reverence because God alone is the author and master of life.  Now, half of the blood of the sacrifice is “splashed on the altar” (24:6), which represents God:  God is solemnly bound by this covenant, bound by his own life’s-blood, as it were.  The other half of the blood is “sprinkled on the people” (24:8), affirming God’s life upon them, binding them to the Lord with a blood connection—and cleansing them too, for in the rituals of the Law blood is a purifier.

The ritual of sharing blood joins the 2 parties, YHWH and Israel.  They become partners, or we could say, blood brothers.  The reading doesn’t mention it today, but the oxen sacrificed on the altar would have been eaten by the people—or at least some of them—so that both parties to the covenant partook of it, parts of the oxen being given over to YHWH by being burnt, and the rest consumed by the people.  In fact, 24:11 (3 verses after our reading) affirms that “after gazing on God, they [Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and 70 elders] could still eat and drink,” which, presumably, refers to the sacrifice.

This same sharing happens thru the blood of Jesus, the blood of the new covenant that the Lord has made with us in accordance with is words, that he would lay down his life for his sheep.  Shed on the cross, his blood makes of the cross an altar.  Offered to us in the cup, it “sprinkles” us, linking us to the altar-cross, binding us to the Father, making us a new Israel, mingling Christ’s blood with our own, cleansing us of our sins.  And we eat the flesh of the sacrifice that’s been offered to God on the cross and is offered to us from our own altar.

In this new covenant, the Father undertakes to save us from the slavery of sin, from the oppression of eternal death—“cleansing our consciences from dead works” and “promising an eternal inheritance” (Heb 9:14,15).  We promise, in our turn, to keep the words of the Lord—starting with a living memory of Jesus—“Do this in memory of me” (Luke 22:19)—but living out the words of Jesus, adhering to his teaching by loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves—a teaching we were reminded of at Mass just last Thursday (Mark 12:28-34).

To love the Lord our God and him alone with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength is, like Jesus, to center our lives on the Father:  in our worship, in all our decisions, all our activity.  It’s to acknowledge him as the sovereign master of the world, and of ourselves in particular—not a symbolic and essentially powerless sovereign like Elizabeth II* but a sovereign with power and authority over us:  the Lord who created us, loves us, pardons us, demands loyalty of us, and dispenses justice to us.  We’ve come from his hand, and he created us to return to him—in Christ, in love.

To love our neighbor as ourselves is to keep Christ’s new commandment, linked to the Last Supper and thus to the Eucharist, even if St. John doesn’t place the Eucharist there.  All who partake of the Eucharist are our sisters and brothers, for we all share in the sacrifice of the Lord’s body and blood.  Even those who don’t share in the Eucharist have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, and so have a destiny to become God’s children.  Many of them act more like God’s children than some who partake of the Eucharist, as we know, because they honor God implicitly or explicitly and practice love of their neighbor—keeping a covenant they may not even be aware of, as St. Paul writes to the Romans:  “When the Gentiles who do not have the law by nature observe the prescriptions of the law, they are a law for themselves even though they do not have the law.  They show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts” (2:14-15).

Well, we know and acknowledge Christ, and thru him we strive to honor the Father; by his grace and power we strive to love one another—grace and power we draw upon in the Eucharist, which is his eternal covenant with us, his lasting commitment to be with us, to strengthen us, to assist us in the long process of living out our Baptism, the process of becoming truly God’s children, washed in water, cleansed in blood, made one with Christ our blood brother by sharing in the sacrifice of his body and blood.

            * Who this past week celebrated her diamond jubilee with much national fanfare and adulation.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fr. Chavez Announces Strenna for 2013

Fr. Chavez Announces
Strenna (Theme) for 2013:
Don Bosco the Educator
(ANS – Rome) – Following the program announced last year for the 3 years of preparation for the bicentennial of Don Bosco’s birth, the strenna of the Rector Major for 2013 is an invitation to get to know DB by seeing him as the educator. “Like Don Bosco the educator, we offer young people the Gospel of joy through a pedagogy of kindness.” The 2013 Strenna, announced publicly on June 6, is an opportunity to deepen our understanding of and update the Preventive System.
The first official act of Fr. Pascual Chavez as the general council opened their summer plenary session on Tuesday, June 5, was to present the topic for 2013 Strenna to the council. The RM explained its content and the angle he was taking by recalling a twofold need: “A deeper study of Salesian pedagogy is certainly necessary, on the one hand, so that it can be updated according to the sensitivity and demands of our time,” and on the other hand, “to make the content and approach of what Don Bosco offered in educational and pastoral terms our own.”
It is a rediscovery, then, of the Preventive System that takes into account a historical understanding of Don Bosco’s approach and the insights already present in his experience of the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales at the Pinardi house, “that would afterward acquire a deeper value as part of a complex human and Christian synthesis.”
“Once we have a correct understanding of the past, we need to translate the Preventive System’s major insights and virtues for today … to the advantage of the formation of the ‘new’ youth of the 21st century, who is called to experience and deal with a vast, totally new range of circumstances and problems in times that have changed decisively, and which the human sciences themselves are now reflecting upon critically.”
The RM offers three particular slants, developed briefly, that will help set a process of modernization in place: (1) relaunching DB’s concept of the “upright citizen” and “good Christian”; (2) return to the young better prepared; (3) education of the heart.
The RM’s presentation is already a good tool for reflection and work on the part of the educational and pastoral community and the various Salesian Family commissions or coordinating bodies. The text, in fact, suggests some evaluation processes which cover both attitudes and planning possibilities. And this year, too, as for other years, the text adds an early indication of what will probably be the major reference points for concrete tasks stemming from 2013 Strenna.
As he did last year, Fr. Chavez offers the Salesian Family a bibliography as a set of references: “The Preventive System in the Education of Youth,” the 1884 “Letter from Rome,” and the biographies of Dominic Savio, Michael Magone, and Francis Besucco, “all written by Don Bosco, which well illustrate both his educational experience and his pedagogical choices.”
The treatise on the Preventive System (under the title “An Ounce of Prevention”) and the biographies of the 3 young pupils of the Oratory may be ordered from Salesiana Publishers by calling 201-986-0503.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Homily for Trinity Sunday

Homily for
Trinity Sunday
June 3, 2012
Deut 4: 32-34, 39-40
Rom 8: 14-17
Matt 28: 16-20
Ursulines, Willow Dr., N.R.

“God our Father, who made known to the human race your wondrous mystery, grant that in professing the true faith we may acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory and adore your Unity” (Collect).

According to many theologians, the Trinity is the most fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith.  Others might say that the Incarnation is the most fundamental, or our Redemption thru the death and resurrection of Christ.  Certainly it’s the Trinity that distinguishes Christians from other believers in the one eternal God—from Jews and Moslems, and nowadays it might be apropos to add, from Mormons.

The Holy Trinity by Hendrik van Balen. St. James Church, Antwerp
Our Collect this morning acknowledges that God has revealed this “wondrous mystery” to us.  It’s not a mystery open to discovery by human reason; indeed, it’s beyond human understanding or explanation, however much great theologians like Augustine, Aquinas, and Rahner have tried to understand or explain it.

The Collect calls it “your mystery,” i.e. God’s mystery, the mystery of God’s own existence, his own being.  But the Father has graciously chosen to reveal to us this mystery—to some degree.

God’s self-revelation began, according to our Scriptures, with Abraham and continued with Moses.  The prophets reveal aspects of God’s mystery:  his knowledge, his power, his compassion, his justice, etc.  Our 1st reading today shows Moses speaking of God’s closeness to Israel, God who has spoken to them “from the midst of fire” (Deut 4:33), God who has redeemed Israel by “taking” them “for himself from the midst of another nation” (4:34), God who has tested them during the exodus and their years in the desert (4:34).  All this God did for Israel to help them to know him, to “know and fix in [their] hearts, that the Lord is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other” (4:39).  This revelation of God to men and women is unprecedented, says Moses:  “Did anything so great ever happen before?  Was it ever heard of?” (4:32).

So God has revealed himself in Israel’s story, in his interactions with this people he chose to be his own.  It’s a story of grace and redemption, of fall and forgiveness.

But it’s only a partial revelation of God’s own self.  The oneness of God, the uniqueness of God, shines forth in Israel’s history.  There’s no hint of God’s threeness-in-one until we start reading back into the Hebrew Scriptures after the revelation that has come to us in Jesus Christ, e.g. by seeing Trinitarian references in God’s saying, “Let us make man in our image” (Gen 1:26), and in the 3 strangers who visit Abraham.

A more complete revelation of God comes thru the Incarnation of the Son, who speaks of his Father, who shows us something of the Father in himself, who sends the Holy Spirit upon us, and who sends us out into the whole world to baptize people “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:19), which means to baptize them into the Father, Son, and Spirit, into this 3-fold relationship; which incorporates Christians in the divine family:  “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God”—and daughters too! (Rom 8:14); adopted by the Father in the Spirit, in union with the unique Son, we’re all entitled to invoke our Abba (8:15), and with the Son we’re listed in the divine will as heirs of the kingdom (8:17).

Our Lord Jesus has intensified the relationship between us, the new Israel, and God.  In faith we see God as 3 Persons; we “acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory.”  In the sacred mysteries of our liturgy, we adore the Three-in-One, and we even become one with them to a certain degree—another “wondrous mystery.”

God’s revelation of himself to us still isn’t complete.  When we, his children, come into our inheritance, when we’re raised up with Christ Jesus and enter the kingdom, then “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).  When we’re raised up with Christ Jesus and enter the kingdom, then our partial knowledge shall become full; we shall know fully, as we are fully known (1 Cor 13:12).

Interestingly, that full knowledge that Paul speaks of comes at the end of his hymn on love.  Our full knowledge of God, and his full knowledge of us, is built on love, not on intellect.  The adoration that we bring to the One God now, is already a gateway of love leading us to a fuller experience of the Holy Three—still, even with our New Testament revelation, “indistinctly, as in a mirror,” but with the hope of “fleshing out” what we see in the mirror, so to say, when we shall see him “face to face” (1 Cor 13:12).  If we can imagine how filled with joy, how ecstatic, a husband and wife are when they behold each other after a long separation—we’ve all seen pictures of troops returning from deployment, for example—what must it be like to behold God’s face—forever!