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Spiritual Reflection: 11th Aug 2020
 

Ultrasonic waves of Faith

 

 

Fr. Cheriyan Menacherry CMI

(this translation is from the book, Cheriyan Menacherry, Wahrheit macht frei: Nachsinnen der Worte Jesu, Mauritius: Fromm Verlag, 2019, p.7-10)

 

 

It is quite normal, before we go on a long journey, that we give instructions to our family about anything important. Jesus Christ did just the same before he made his long journey to heaven (ascension). At that time, one of his heartfelt concerns was faith. Therefore, He said to disciples before His departure to heaven: "The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned." (Mk 16:16). Faith is very important. However, it is precisely this faith that many people have difficulty with today.

[1]Faith cannot be seen, but it can be expressed in works and symbolic acts. It is similar to love. Love cannot be seen either. However, you can do something for others with love and/or express it symbolically. In the figurative sense, faith is love for God, or better expressed, faith is the prerequisite for love for God.

Many refuse to express faith symbolically or to talk about it with others. For many, only what they can perceive in their radar exists. There is an infinite number of sonic signals around us, such as ultrasound. However, we cannot hear them because our ears are not able to receive them. It cannot be said that such sonic signals do not exist. Bats, for example, produce ultrasonic sounds that the human ear cannot hear. However, bats can receive these soundwaves.

Why do many people refuse to practice their faith? Perhaps they think that the liturgical actions symbolising our faith are naive and therefore they do not want to celebrate faith in the symbols of the liturgy.

In some regions of the Catholic Church in the 16th to 18th centuries, it was customary on the feast of Ascension to the raise a statue of the risen Christ through an opening (Heiliggeistloch, ‘Holy Ghost Hole’) into the church roof.[2]

On the feast of Pentecost, a white dove would flutter through the opening ‘Holy Ghost Hole’ in the church roof, symbolic of the coming of the Holy Spirt. After that, a rain of flowers would pour through the opening indicating the gifts of the Holy Spirit.[3]

It is not my intention to plead for the revival of this tradition!

Rather, it stress the meaning of this symbolic liturgical act! It is to express what Jesus Christ said about his Ascension: "I must tell you the truth: it is for your own good that I am going because unless I go, the Advocate (Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I do go, I will send Him to you." (John 16:7).

Faith cannot be seen, still it is just as important for life as love.

The great scientist Albert Einstein once said, about what actually counts in life: "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” [4] Many people are greedy for superficial things that do not really count in life. However, what really counts in life, e.g. faith, they do not find valuable. Many, on the other hand place their faith at the centre of their lives. They believe in expressing their faith through their actions, because they have come to know Jesus and how He has saved them, they come to love Him and thank Him for the warning before His ascension to heaven that : "…the one who does not believe will be condemned. ". (Mk 16:16). How does one understand "he who does not believe will be condemned"? The non-believer slowly slides into a lonely, existential, dark hole in life. Consequently, he develops in himself a senselessness, lonely and existential fear. Pope Benedict once said: "He who believes is never alone".[5]

Imagine someone lying on his deathbed and thinking about all that counted for them in the past. His fame, fortune etc. Now what once counted is no longer what counts for him in this critical hour. What counts for him now, what he cannot count on, is his faith. This dying man struggles with despair for faith. Is he doomed to fall into a lonely, dark hole, into an eternal nothingness? Or is he destined to reach, with the power of the risen Lord, an eternal joy that no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no reason has grasped? [6] Jesus Christ says: "The one who believes and is baptized will be saved;…" (Mk 16:16).


 

[1] Illustration, photo. Judith Cronauer

[2] „Im katholischen Brauchtum einiger Gegenden (z. B. im bayerischen Mittenwald oder im Kloster Neustift in Südtirol) wird die Statue des Auferstandenen an Christi Himmelfahrt durch das „Heiliggeistloch“ auf den Kirchenspeicher gezogen.“ „Christi Himmelfahrt,“ Wikipedia,https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christi_Himmelfahrt

[3] “In medieval times the figure of a dove was widely used to enact in a dramatic way the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday. When the priest had arrived at the sequence, he sang the first words in a loud and solemn voice: Veni Sancte Spiritus (Come, Holy Ghost). Immediately there arose in the church a sound “as of a violent wind blowing” (Acts 2, 2)…. All eyes turned toward the ceiling of the church where from an opening called the “Holy Ghost Hole” there appeared a disc the size of a cart wheel, which slowly descended in horizontal position, swinging in ever-widening circles. Upon a blue background, broken by bundles of golden rays, it bore on its underside the figure of a white dove…. At its conclusion the dove came to rest, hanging suspended in the middle of the church. There followed a “rain” of flowers indicating the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and of water symbolizing baptism. In some towns of central Europe people even went so far as to drop pieces of burning wick or straw from the Holy Ghost Hole, to represent the flaming tongues of Pentecost.… In the thirteenth century in many cathedrals of France real white pigeons were released during the singing of the sequence and new around in the church while roses were dropped from the Holy Ghost Hole” Weiser, Holyday Book, quoted by Jennifer Gregory Miller, Jun 06, 2014, in “The Solemnity of Pentecost: An Element-ary Feast”in CatholicCulture.Org.https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/blog/index.cfm?ID=136

[4] “Albert Einstein liked to underscore the micro/macro partnership with a remark from Sir George Pickering that he chalked on the blackboard in his office at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton: ‘Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.’” In https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein

[5] “’He who believes is never alone,’ was one of the phrases that made the greatest impact during Benedict XVI’s homily at the Mass for the solemn opening of his pontificate, on April 24, 2005.” In Zenith: the World seen from Rome, September 05, 2006, https://zenit.org/articles/pope-will-say-he-who-believes-is-never-alone/

[6] „But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him"” 1 Kor 2,9; cf also Jes 64,3; Jer 3,16.

   
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