Madonna House

The Resurrection in Your Life Now

by Fr. Pat McNulty

Who are these guys, Reverend? I can’t even pro-nounce their names. I mean who would want a name like Silly-beaks?

It’s Schillebeeckx, and it’s pronounced, Skil-a-becks. He was a Belgian Dominican priest who became part of a movement in theology which began in the 1920’s in France.

That movement included such people as Henri de Lubac, (future cardinal), Teilhard de Chardin, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Yves Congar, (future cardinal) Karl Rahner, Hans Kung, Edward Schillebeeckx, Louis Bouyer, Jean Danielou (future cardinal) and another priest named Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI.

It was a movement away from pure systematic theology mainly according to St. Thomas Aquinas and almost exclusively in Latin, toward the Fathers of the Church and Sacred Scripture, all in their vernacular languages.

In those early years it was controversial, but by the time of the Second Vatican Council in 1963, Catholic theology was moving to that same focus, and consequently that movement was an integral part of the vision of the Council.

Well, in that group there’s a couple of guys whose orthodoxy was suspect if I remember correctly.

Well, only Schillebeeckx and Kung came more or less close to the edge “officially” but by far the majority became very respected theologians in the Church.

In fact, Pope St. John XXIII personally invited many of them to the Council. Pope Blessed Paul VI and Pope St. John Paul II raised some to be cardinals.

And Pope Benedict XVI, (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger), in his book Spirit of the Liturgy certainly vindicated Chardin when he wrote, that he (Chardin) “went on to give a new meaning to Christian worship…”

What’s all that got to do with what’s goin’ on today in the Church?

Well, the first thing “goin’ on today in the Church,” my friend, is the Resurrection!And I’m convinced that this movement of the Spirit beginning way back in the ‘20’s was partially meant to bring into our everyday lives a new sense of the Resurrection.

Most of us in the Western world were infected by an “anti-Resurrection” virus called Jansenism—as in: we’re all goin’ to Hell unless we can manage to store up enough sanctifying grace in our spiritual bank accounts!

And yet at the heart of the Church’s best tradition, the Church always taught that the Resurrection somehow affected, changed all of Creation in some profound and mysterious manner.

As a matter of fact, some of the Eastern Fathers of the Church spoke of us as having been “divinized” through the Resurrection. And that divinization was meant to affect our whole sense of Time, Space, Life, Death, the Cosmos, everything!

Now you tell me, my friend: How many Christian people do you know whose thinking the Resurrection has affected to that degree—people for whom the Resurrection is that central to their whole sense of the Christian Mystery, as compared with sin and hell. Then I think we can better understand what’s “goin’ on today in the Church!” 

Are you tellin’ me, Reverend, that the Holy Spirit’s revelation about sin and hell and grace are not important to the power of the Christian message?

No, I’m just asking if the Holy Spirit’s revelation of the Resurrection is as important, as central, to our sense of the Christian message as that of sin and hell and grace.

My suspicion is that the answer is, “No,” that we do not have the same sense of the power of the Resurrection in our everyday lives as we have of the power of sin and evil.

That we do not have the same sense of having been personally “divinized” by Christ’s Resurrection as we have of being vulnerable to the wiles of sin and the devil.

That we do not have the same sense of how the Resurrection pulls the stinger out of all the evil taking place on this earth at any given time so that the venom of the Evil One is actually lost in the victory of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ—then and now.

In a word, we are not yet a people of the Resurrection. Perhaps that was what the Spirit was getting at in the 1920’s—and maybe is still trying to get at today.

That if we are “divinized” in this resurrected sense, then a primary declaration of the Christian life should be the message of profound joy, personally and historically, so we can let go of some of our intense theological, ethical issues, let the chips fall where they may, and get on with the mystery of Christian life!

That’s easy to say, Reverend, but if you was livin’ in some other country where they was killin’ you for bein’ Christian, you might change your tune a little.

Yes, my friend, I might change my tune, my mind, at least its fervour or its passion, but I would not change the words to my Resurrection-song.

If the Resurrection is not more powerful than anything that has, can, or will happen to me, or anyone else on the face of the earth or anything in the cosmos, then Christ has surely come and gone in vain.

Yes, I myself may one day succumb to the terrors which have always threatened us on this earth, but if I embrace the Resurrection in my life day by day I do not believe the evil will overcome me. It may terrorize me and kill me but not overcome!

So the question really is, “Do I believe in the Resurrection in my life now—where I’m living now, in what my struggles, my weakness, my sadness, my loneliness and fears are now?

I’m not talking about those “super-Christians” who often act as if this life doesn’t hurt. “Praize you, Jeeeezus!” I’m talking about living every day in the mess of life with the awareness that there is something in God so real that nothing can take it from us.

Not because we’re holy or perfect or sinless, but because we have become a peopleof the Resurrection. Because the Resurrection, this “divinization,” is at the center of our everyday life and our evangelization—sin and hell notwithstanding.

Well, just tell me how you’d preach somethin’ like that, Reverend. How would you git people’s attention with somethin’ warm ’n’ fuzzy like that? There ain’t no fire ’n’ brimstone in it!

I don’t believe you: you think the Resurrection has no “fire ’n’ brimstone” in it, that it’s “somethin’ warm ’n’ fuzzy”? I’d call that a theological infection born of the virus of Jansenism.

I think what you need, my friend, is a heavy dose of vitamin B4, 5, 6, 19, or 21 from the Book of Revelation.

You keep comin’ back to the Book of Revelation all the time. I’ve tried your Book of Revelation and it don’t work, Reverend.

You’re trying too hard, my friend. Just read any of those five chapters and forget all about what it’s supposed to mean. Don’t try to make it fit into today’s history but just read it out loud and think, “Resurrection!”

Take in all the images, the songs, the adoration, the powerful overcoming of Evil, the Alleluias in those five chapters and think, “Resurrection,” and you will discover that the Resurrection is not the least bit “warm ‘n’ fuzzy” like you think!

And when am I gonna have the time to do that kinda thing in my busy life?

How about five minutes right before you go to bed at night? You can put your pillow over your mouth so that reading out loud won’t disturb anybody close by.

Can you imagine going to sleep with the images of the Resurrection from the Book of Revelation on your mind now and then, versus what some of us usually see on the boob tube or in whatever book we are reading five minutes before we close our eyes? Good grief, by the time of the real Resurrection you might even be ready!

O-o-o-o-o-h, you really know how to hurt a guy.

But I thought a little “fire ‘n’ brimstone” was your thing, my friend. I wouldn’t want to bore you with plain ole Christian “warm fuzzies,” like “Christ is Risen” now would I?