To be more than mere machine…

God has all the essential characteristics of what we mean by a “person,” in particular conscious awareness, the ability to recognize and the ability to love. In that sense he is someone who can speak and who can listen. That, I think, is what is essential about God. Nature can be marvelous. The starry heaven is stupendous. But my reaction to that remains no more than an impersonal wonder, because that, in the end, means that I am myself no more than a tiny part of an enormous machine. The real God, however, is more than that. He is not just nature, but the One who came before it and who sustains it. And the whole of God, so faith tells us, is the act of relating. That is what we mean when we say that he is a Trinity, that he is threefold. Because he is in himself a complex of relationships, he can also make other beings who are grounded in relationships and who may relate to him, because he has related them to himself.
– Pope Benedict XVI, (from God and the World)

And from a stargazing amble:

Each generation–and perhaps my boomer generation more than any other–thinks of itself as the most enlightened, most informed, most aware, but how can that be?

We see the world through 19 inch computer screens, and 40 inch television screens. We melt the sand to create 36 inch windows, and we think that’s as big as the world gets.

We’ve narrowed our perspective – made it boxed sized and so have boxed ourselves in. And then we blame God for not giving us miracles anymore – and we blame religion for making us expect them.

We are such fools. Merton had it more right than I had realized when he wrote:

The devil is no fool. He can get people feeling about heaven the way they ought to feel about hell. He can make them fear the means of grace the way they do not fear sin. And he does so, not by light but by obscurity, not by realities but by shadows; not by clarity and substance, but by dreams and the creatures of psychosis. And men are so poor in intellect that a few cold chills down their spine will be enough to keep them from ever finding out the truth about everything The devil does rob us of clarity by casting us about in shadows. But he fools us into thinking that the shadows are light. Our illumination is only illusory.

And this is why we need the Eucharist. As Merton writes:

I tell you there is a power that goes forth from that Sacrament, a power of light and truth, even in to the hearts of those who have heard nothing of Him and seem to be incapable of belief.

And called the Eucharist:

…that tremendous, secret and obvious immolation, so secret that it will never be thoroughly understood by a created intellect, and yet so obvious that its very obviousness blinds us by excess of clarity; the unbloody Sacrifice of God under the species of bread and wine.

Blinds us by excess of clarity. Yes.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Greta

    Cannot remember the last time I had a sermon where something like this was mentioned about the devil who romes about seeking sheep who have been separated from the Good Shepherd. What a wonder article to follow it so closely with the Eucharist quote.

    I loved Merton for his early work, but felt he was lost toward the end.

  • http://breadhere.wordpress.com/ Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

    Couldn’t help but think of this post when I read this other post.

  • http://boinkie.blogspot.com tioedong

    The quote from Benedict is inspiring.
    But the blogpost goes downhill from then on… Sorry, if I hear another lecture about “we baby boomers” I will scream. and don’t get me started with Merton.
    Earth to Anchoress: A lot of us know about suffering and aren’t part of the “in” crowd, even if we are on line.


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