Monday, January 12, 2015

O the dignity of the state of the Christian

Dear Daughters of St Philip Neri, 

Dom Mark Kirby posted a magnificent reflection today entitled,  "Are you a Victim?"  I would encourage you to read it in its entirety and simply offer you a brief selection here from one of our favorite resources, thanks to Dom Mark's translation work, Mother Catherine Mectilde de Bar.  The depth and beauty of her expression of the mystery of our unity with and shared victimhood with Christ in His immolation is incomparable.  It is Christ's desire, she tells us, that we make up for what is "lacking" in his sacrifice and this desire is fulfilled through being offered with with Christ at the altar: "The priest holds you mystically in his hands and, in this manner, you are in the host."  It is this state of victimhood that we enter into and are bound by virtue of our baptism and we are renewed and strengthened in it (being clothed in Christ's "adorable dispositions") at the Holy Altar.

Writing in the 17th century, Catherine–Mectilde de Bar gave luminous expression to the victimal quality of the Christian life. Mother Mectilde presents victimhood in relationship to Baptism. One united to Christ by Baptism enters into the mystery of His immolation, becoming with Him a single victim made over to the Father.
Regarding the sacrifice of the altar, you know that it is the memorial of [the sacrifice of] the cross and a continuation of this most adorable sacrifice . . . no longer bloody, but remaining efficacious.  You were not present on Calvary to consent to your crucifixion; Our Lord, therefore, wants you to consent to that of the altar in order to accomplish what was lacking to His Passion, in such wise that, as His member, you are offered to the Father with Jesus Christ and through Jesus Christ. The priest holds you mystically in his hands and, in this manner, you are in the Host.
O the dignity of the state of the Christian: to be made one thing with Jesus Christ, to be crucified with Him and to be immolated every day upon the altar with Him!
This is the vocation of all Christians chosen to have the honour of the divine character which makes them children of God and consorts of Jesus Christ. They are destined, consequently, to possess the treasures of His grace, remaining united to Him not only as children of God, but as His members, forming but one body with Jesus Christ and, thus, one single host and victim, clothed in His adorable dispositions.
I invite you to double again your fidelities so as to make yourselves true victims; this is not a new quality. It is a title that Jesus Christ impressed upon us at Baptism, with the obligation of making it efficacious. (Letter to the community of Paris quoted in J. Daoust, Catherine de Bar, Mère Mectilde du Saint–Sacrement, Téqui, Paris 1979, pp. 57–58)
This [vow of victimhood] is not, properly speaking, a particular vow. By Baptism every Christian becomes a victim unto God, and this by virtue of relationship and union with Jesus Christ. The members are united to the Head and enlivened by Him, the divine Saviour, the victim of His divine Father. Christians, being members united to Him, cannot dispense themselves from entering into this state of victimhood. (Le véritable esprit quoted in J. Daoust, p. 58)

Throughout the remainder of the reflection Dom Mark clarifies how we understand the term "victimhood" in order that we might not simply fall into a pious sentimentalism but rather think with the mind of the Church and allow it to be a true articulation of her liturgical life and always seen as untied to Christ's self offering to the Father. 

Dom Mark, we thank you for your labors through which we have so often been nourished!

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