Oh Lord, purify me, make me a chalice in which you dwell, offer your sacrifice in me and spread your love through me. Let me shine like gold, adorn me with the jewels of virtue that I may always be open to you. Fill me. Overflow me. Let me be like that most perfect vessel, the Singular Vessel of Devotion, She to whom I cry for protection against the Evil One. I ask this for your glory, for the vessel is nothing without the sustenance inside, the cup nothing unless it is filled. Oh Lord, purify me.

Give me a word, Abba

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Weight of Glory

Some of you may have read a short book by C.S. Lewis called "The Weight of Glory." I know I have. This post is only about this book insofar as it is about the concept of Glory's Weight.

Today at Mass, we didn't sing the Gloria. It was, in the words of the pamphlet, a "Messa senza Gloria." (Disclaimer: This was a Tridentine Mass. We celebrated the Sunday Seventy Days before Easter.) The time before Easter is a time to recall our mortality and our frailty as humans, our need for salvation. The problem is, God's Salvation is kind of a huge deal. For God's glory to descend to the Earth full force would destroy it. That's why God had to become Man. He had to hold the weight of Glory so that is didn't crush the Earth when God sent his Power. Not saying the Gloria during the 70 days (or 40 days) before Easter is symbolic of this reality.

In the altar painting at the church (I think I've mentioned it before. I really need to get a photo of it.), the Crucifix stands at the juncture of heaven and earth. Above is the gold of the Glory of God and below is the darkness of the earth. The Crucifix is literally holding up the weight of glory. It is through the sacrifice of Christ that we are able to access the Glory in appropriate doses. Would we be able to handle a full communion with God in our fallen state? No, so God gives us the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of His Son in the form of bread and wine. Even so, the earth trembled and the veil of the Temple was torn in two trying to hold back the Glory of God that was exposed at the Crucifixion.

We call the resurrected Body of Christ His Glorified Body. The Glory of God has finally been allowed to enter the visible realm. Of course Christ still didn't let it all out. We still can not handle the weight of Glory.

Since I got this concept from C.S. Lewis, I might as well mention that his fictional analogies of the spiritual realm fit very well into the idea of a heavy Glory. In his writings, Lewis mentions that the spiritual is really harder and more substantial than the material. In the Great Divorce, the grass of the Heavenly Vestibule was too hard for the newcomers. In the Space Trilogy, the same concept is discussed. The fact is, the spiritual throws itself at us in such a powerful way that we are thrown against the wall. How much more the Glory of God would press us to the ground in humility. Which is why we need the cross. We need some structure to hold back the Glory of God until we are made whole. In this case, it is through the very structure that holds up the Glory that makes us whole. What a beautiful thing the Cross is! Remember it this Lent as we omit the Gloria, for it is the Cross that both shows us the face of God and protects us from an unworthy reception of the Beatific Vision, which in the Old Testament phrasing would be certain death. But through the Cross we are made worthy so that it might not be death, but Life and when we stand in the presence of God in heaven, the Weight of Glory will be a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light.

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