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

Monday, April 9, 2012

NIKE!

"All that is condemned in Catholic tradition, authority, and dogmatism and the refusal to retract and modify, are but the natural human attributes of a man with a message relating to a fact." (G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man)

Imagine if the messenger who ran from Marathon to Athens and declared "Nike! (Victory!)" to the Athenians had been stopped along the way and asked why he was running so fast. He would have said something like "Nike! (Victory!)" or maybe "I have to get to Athens to tell them that we won. (Whatever that is in Greek)." Would those that stopped him have doubted him? Would they have said "No, my dear slave, you are merely suffering under an illusion. There is no way we beat the Persians at the Battle of Marathon. They far outnumbered us. This must be merely wishful thinking. Are you sure that the heat hasn't gotten to you or the run muddled your brain?" The messenger would most likely tell the idiots that he was sure of his message and would they please step aside. After all, he did just come from the battle and he's only been running for 5 miles. And plus, the Persians had sent part of their fleet to Athens, so he kind of had to get there. Would they like it if the heroes were not welcomed back in appropriate pomp because of their delay?

They let him run on, laughing at him behind his back. Of course it was the next day that the whole army of Greek hoplites passed by that same route to Athens, but the doubters were gone, drinking merrily in their rooms and thus missed the celebration in Athens.

However, one of the those that had stopped the messenger believed the messenger. After all, why not? It was a mere five miles to Marathon and the slave couldn't have been that wrong as to have gotten the message completely backwards. And so this man became a new messenger. He started to run to the North to tell his friends. On the way, he too is stopped and asked why he is running. He possible says something like "Nike! (Victory!)" or "Did you hear? We won the battle of Marathon! Spread the news! (Or whatever that is in Ancient Greek)." In this case, the majority of the people believe him, and even if there are one or two doubters, they go along with it because the others seem convinced.

Let us imagine that all over the countryside, people hear the news and a huge mass of people start to descend on Athens for the celebration of the victory. Now it is not just one man who is stopped, but large groups of Greeks who confidently say that the army is victorious and that they are going to Athens for the celebration. It becomes harder and harder for the people of Greece to deny the truth of the claim. People are dancing in the streets of the villages on the way to Athens.

And in the meantime, the original messenger reaches Athens and proclaims the news. He promptly falls dead and so misses the celebration and the result of his work, however the people of Athens believe his message, for who would run 26 miles to relay a false message and would he not have kept the message in his mind for the whole time as its mind-blowing entirety?And so Athens prepares for the return of the army.

Soon, Athens starts to fill with people, and the initial celebrations begin as the city is prepared.

And that might be the end of the story, but you see, I'm still telling it. It did not end with the celebration in Athens because it is an amazing story that the Greeks kept up for generations. And the Persians could not deny it. Who are we to deny it? It happened 2400 years ago, but still the echo of the message "Nike! (Victory!)" resounds throughout history. Were those the exact words the messenger used? Was it only one messenger? Did the army just return to Athens with the news themselves, defeat the Persian Fleet and then celebrate? I don't know. It doesn't matter, for the essential truth remains: The Greeks defeated the Persians at the Battle of Marathon and the whole world now knows it.

A messenger who relays such a message does not, can not change his story for then the truth loses its impact. In such a way, we can not change the story of Christianity. We can not change the fact that the original messengers told us that Christ was victorious over death. Now we are all traveling toward the True Athens, awaiting the celebration of this victory, spreading the news unchanged for two millennia. Let us continue to proclaim this victory as the Truth that is it, without fear and plainly. Let us not change our minds or let our hearts be swayed by doubters. Let them not tell us that we are wrong and that we have succumbed to wishful thinking. The messenger of such a story does not forget. If we are to doubt this story, let us doubt the defeat of the Persians at Marathon.

But let us not doubt either, for Christ is Risen, or in Ancient Greek: Christos Anesti!


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