Austin’s reflections, Constantina’s art, the Zambian Poor Clares’ dance that we saw on St Clare’s Day; these reflections too: all are intended to bear witness to – what exactly? I think we need to remind ourselves often what is the Gospel we proclaim. I was about to throw out a scrap of paper this afternoon, but held off till I’d copied this.
When preaching takes place, the ‘reality’ that is proclaimed, the crucified and risen Christ, is made present for the preacher and the hearer alike and is imparted to those who hear the preaching with faith.
Thus writes Fr Gerald O’Collins.*
He is developing an idea in Ad Gentes 9 the Vatican Council’s Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church.
By the preaching of the word and by the celebration of the sacraments, the centre and summit of which is the most holy Eucharist, He (God) brings about the presence of Christ, the author of salvation. But whatever truth and grace are to be found among the nations, as a sort of secret presence of God, He frees from all taint of evil and restores to Christ its maker.
‘A sort of secret presence of God’ – it sounds almost like Francis Thompson! (see post on August 9th)
’Tis ye, ’tis your estrangèd faces,
That miss the many-splendoured thing.
But (when so sad thou canst not sadder)
Cry—and upon thy so sore loss
Shall shine the traffic of Jacob’s ladder
Pitched betwixt Heaven and Charing Cross.
Let’s pray for the wisdom to know how to share the many-splendoured thing, and the humility to perceive Jacob’s ladder pitched on our own pavements – and the unlikely characters shining as they ascend!
*Vatican II and the Liturgical Presence of Christ in irish Theological Quarterly, 2/2012.