For a penitential season, today’s passages are downright cheerful. We need that. There is an old tradition, connected with the Latin Liturgy for Easter Even: “O felix culpa, quia talem ac tantum meruit habere remptorem!” “O fortunate sin, because it merited such, even so great, a Redeemer!” No Easter without Good Friday: no Good Friday without Easter. Enter various unnerving thoughts.
This paradox of the Fortunate Fall opens endless vistas. And here the operative word is “opens.” We can be thankful for our salvation only if we are open, only if we receive and do so gladly. “A grateful mind / By owing owes not, but still pays, at once / indebted and discharg’d,” wrote the poet Milton (Paradise Lost, Book IV, lines 55-57.) In his time “still” meant “always,” another quality of real thankfulness. It is continuous, developing, changing, an underlying attitude of which we are not always conscious. Even if we can open only a little bit, we grow thankful. But this opening is scary.
Many believe that joy and sorrow spring from the same root. Perhaps the same is true of fear and trust. We humans are contradictory, paradoxical in our being. Could we possibly be otherwise? Thank God!
Monday, March 07, 2016