Thursday, March 5, 2015

mouth-to-mouth with God

Last night, I had the opportunity to view part of Fr. Robert Barron's newest study program, "Priest, Prophet, King". 

Sidenote: it's great! If you follow Fr. Barron and his work with Word On Fire, you know there is no big surprise there, as they really do seem to do all things well. Thus far, "Priest, Prophet, King" is loaded with some serious theology, which will take prayer(!!!!), discussion, and study to unpack. Good stuff. 

In any case... 

Setting the stage for a discussion of the idea of "right praise" of God, he references Pope Benedict XVI's etymology of the word adoration - Latin, adoratio - meaning "mouth to mouth".  

This particular section is in the YouTube preview of the series, which I watched a few weeks ago. It hit me like certain revelation then - I know some Latin, but I had never considered the word adoration beyond its surface - and it stuck out to me again, yesterday evening. 

And so, realizing this may be a foreign thought to many people - and that some might find it bizarre/ridiculous/nonsensical/fallacious: 

Who would not want to be mouth-to-mouth with God?  

Even to approach oneness with Him, let alone to enter into true union with God while on earth, as in the mystical union experienced by some of the saints... The mere idea is all at once unthinkably amazing, yet completely sublime, and enough to make one shudder. It signifies that true adoration - right praise - of God leads, at its end, to nothing less than being consumed by the fire of Love. Love returns love (in the case of Divine love, that return is more than exponential), and all right praise comes finds its origin in true love of God. 

Maybe that's a little terrifying, because it requires such ultimate surrender. But really, isn't that what God wants - us, completely? Our messy, human entirety, surrendered?

Oh, the exquisite, unfathomable depths of God's goodness! 

Yet more terrifying is that, as Fr. Barron points out, and as anyone who has tried to walk with Christ knows or eventually comes to discover, right praise doesn't happen without sacrifice, and that means we will suffer. We "moderns" are quite scared of suffering, at least we who live in relative comfort with little to fear, except maybe an upset stomach from leftovers that have been in the fridge for too long. Real suffering, though? We push it away, try to eliminate it from our sight, try to kill it before it kills us. 

We question how a good God could will suffering in His creation, and use it as an excuse to kick God to the curb. The answer, of course - at least the only one that makes sense - is that God does not will suffering; He does not will evil - but He does allow it - even when it causes us excruciating pain. Excruciating pain, so called after the pain of crucifixion. 

The crucifixion of Christ is the greatest evil ever perpetrated upon earth. It is also the most perfect act of adoration ever accomplished - accomplished out of perfect love. Wrought in the deepest depths of suffering, it culminated in the consuming, redemptive love revealed in the Resurrection. Love overflows with love.

As I considered the interplay of adoration, sacrifice, and consuming love, I could not help but think of  21 Coptic Christians forced to the water's edge in Libya and brutally beheaded for acknowledging their faith in Jesus Christ. Adoration. Sacrifice. Complete surrender to God. 

All 21 of those men were mouth-to-mouth with God on that beach. What an incredible reward awaited them - the consuming love of God, for all eternity. 

Yes, the exquisite, unfathomable depths of God's goodness. 

(Another photograph taken at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish - "Redemptorist Church" - Kansas City, MO - July 2014)

1 comment:

  1. Adoratio: the ultimate form of resuscitation!

    To be able to feel the breath of God within our lungs, much as He breathed life into Adam. To have the "all up in your face" experience with the one who knows every minutia about your face. To feel the warmth, the closeness and presence, just RIGHT THERE (holds hand in front of face)!