Receiving and Returning

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  I hope everyone is enjoying still celebrating Easter this year.

If today weren't Easter Friday, however, we'd be celebrating the feast day of St. Anselm of Canterbury.  St. Anselm was perhaps the first great theologian in the English-speaking world and marked the beginning of what we call the "Scholastic" period, a period in our Church history when philosopher-theologians plumbed the depth of human knowledge and rationality in order to better understand the mysteries of our Faith.  

Anselm made many contributions to our faith, he developed a theory of atonement explaining why Christ died for our sins, articulated an ontological argument for the existence of God, and championed the idea that our faith is the beginning of our understanding of the world.  One of his most striking ideas, however, is that of exitus-reditus.  Exitus-reditus means that our Triune God, who is love, never ceases offering his love to us.  This love makes its home in the human soul, which is made in the image of God.  When we truly receive this love of God we can have no other response than to return it to our God.  In other words a human being is only truly alive, truly thriving, when she receives love from God and then, invigorated by that love, is drawn back to God.  Nothing, then, is more fully human and never are we more truly in the image of God than when we receive His love and return it to Him.

It is in that spirit that I want to share with you one of the most beautiful hymns in our tradition, one that priests and sisters pray each of the eight days of the Octave of Easter.  This version is composed by the Cambridge composer John Rutter.  May it help you to receive God's love and return it to the Blessed Trinity...

When the snow lay 'round about

I've always loved the Christmas carol Good King Wenceslas and the snow this morning made me think about the story it tells.  St. Wenceslas ventures out into the snow and cold to bring firewood and rations to a poor man, a great symbol of Christ venturing into the dark and cold world to bring us salvation and hope.  He asks his young squire to follow him, but instructs him to step in his footsteps so that the cold of the snow doesn't chill him, showing us that when Christ asks us to follow him in service to those in need, he asks us to follow him closely and enjoy his protection and grace.  We might not be in the Christmas season anymore, but the cold and the snow can evoke powerful images of our faith like the story of Good King Wenceslas...