Monday, March 14, 2011

Not rock to bread, but bread to Body

Sunday's readings included Matthew's account of Satan tempting Jesus in the desert, starting at verse 4:1:

At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” He said in reply, “It is written: One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”

I've read this passage a number of times throughout the years, without noticing the Eucharistic overtones. On Sunday I finally saw the connection but only through the last line, when I thought about Christ being THE Word, our bread, the bread of heaven.

Last night in reading it again, another piece of the Eucharistic message came through, in the words of the tempter himself.

He is jealous, Old Hairy Legs. He disdains humanity but also envies us. We humans co-operate with the Father in creating new eternal souls, something the angels can never do. Their numbers are finite, ours increase until the end of time. He doesn't like that, and yet he also looks down on our incarnation, our embodiedness. And so he tries to speak to what he perceives as fleshly weakness; Christ's hunger.

At the same time the devil seems to be hoping to lure Him into an action for which it is not yet time. He says "Go ahead, turn a stone into bread."

Jesus, of course, says no. He says that He will not turn rocks into bread, He will instead transform bread into Himself. He knows we cannot live on bread alone, not even bread that was miraculously changed from lifeless stone.

We need more.

We need bread become Word. We need Eucharist.

It awes me to continue finding these Eucharistic messages throughout the Bible, waiting to be unveiled.

(Click here for more ponderings on Satan's jealousy of humanity.)

Hope becomes reality

Falling in love is when hope becomes reality.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Take off your shoes

Earth's crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God. And only he who sees takes off his shoes, the rest sit round and pluck blackberries.

--Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What more can I want?

From The Handmaid's Tale:

Pleasure is an egg. Blessings that can be counted, on the fingers of one hand. If I have an egg, what more can I want?

What should they regard as too obscene?

From That Hideous Strength:

Despair of objective truth had been increasingly insinuated into the scientists: indifference to it, and a concentration upon mere power, had been the result. ... Dreams of the far future destiny of man were dragging up from its shallow and unquiet grave the old dream of man as God. The very experiences of the dissecting room and the pathological laboratory were breeding a conviction that the stifling of all deep-set repugnances was the first essential for progress. ... What should they find incredible, since they believed no longer in a rational universe? What should they regard as too obscene, since they held that all morality was a mere subjective by-product of the physical and economic situations of men? The time was ripe. From the point of view which is accepted in Hell, the whole history of our Earth had led up to this moment.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

La Sacre de la femme -- Eve

I stumbled upon part of the poem below in a book on Rodin at a friend's home recently, and have had trouble finding it in English. The translated text below is a mix of a partial English version I found online, and a translation provided by iGoogle. (The robo-translated piece is the second section, in case you can't tell.) The original French follows for those who can read it.

Eve offered the blue sky of the holy nakedness;
Eve blonde admired the dawn, her sister rosy.

Flesh of woman! clay ideal! O wonder!
Sublime penetration of the spirit
In the silt that ineffable Being kneaded!
Matter where the soul shines through his shroud!
Mud where we see the fingers of the divine sculptor!
August dust drawing kisses and the heart of man
So holy that no one knows, as love triumphs,
As the core is thrust into this mysterious bed,
If this pleasure is not a thought,
And we can not, at which the senses are on fire
Hold beauty without embracing God!
Eve let his eyes wander over nature.

And beneath the green palms to tall,
Eve around above his head, the eye
Seemed to think, the blue lotus is collected,
The fresh forget-me remembered; roses
Sought his feet with their lips half-closed;
A breath came out of brotherly gilt lilies;
As if that would have been sweet to be like them,
As if those flowers, all with a soul
The most beautiful woman in flourished.


Ève offrait au ciel bleu la sainte nudité ;
Ève blonde admirait l'aube, sa soeur vermeille.

Chair de la femme ! argile idéale ! ô merveille !
Pénétration sublime de l'esprit
Dans le limon que l'Être ineffable pétrit !
Matière où l'âme brille à travers son suaire !
Boue où l'on voit les doigts du divin statuaire !
Fange auguste appelant le baiser et le coeur,
Si sainte, qu'on ne sait, tant l'amour est vainqueur,
Tant l'âme est vers ce lit mystérieux poussée,
Si cette volupté n'est pas une pensée,
Et qu'on ne peut, à l'heure où les sens sont en feu,
Étreindre la beauté sans croire embrasser Dieu !
Ève laissait errer ses yeux sur la nature.

Et, sous les verts palmiers à la haute stature,
Autour d'Ève, au-dessus de sa tête, l'oeillet
Semblait songer, le bleu lotus se recueillait,
Le frais myosotis se souvenait ; les roses
Cherchaient ses pieds avec leurs lèvres demi-closes ;
Un souffle fraternel sortait du lys vermeil ;
Comme si ce doux être eût été leur pareil,
Comme si de ces fleurs, ayant toutes une âme,
La plus belle s'était épanouie en femme.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Talent for insatiability

From The Handmaid's Tale:

We yearned for the future. How did we learn it, that talent for insatiability?

Beauty for another

From That Hideous Strength:

At the very moment when her mind was most filled with another man there arose, clouded with some undefined emotion, a resolution to give Mark much more than she had ever given him before, and a feeling that in doing so she would be really giving it to the Director. And this produced in her such a confusion of sensations that the whole inner debate became indistinct and flowed over into the larger experience... she was in the sphere of Jove, amid light and music and festal pomp, brimmed with life and radiant in health, jocund and clothed in shining garments. ... And she rejoiced also in the consciousness of her own beauty; for she had the sensation--it may have been false in fact, but it had nothing to do with vanity--that it was growing and expanding like a magic flower with every minute that passed. In such a mood it was only natural, after the old countryman had got out at Cure Hardy, to stand up and look at herself in the mirror which confronted her on the wall of the compartment. Certainly she was looking well: she was looking unusually well. And once more, there was little vanity in this. For beauty was made for others. Her beauty belonged to the Director. It belonged to him so completely that he could even decide not to keep it for himself but to order that it be given to another, by an act of obedience lower, and therefore higher, more unconditional and therefore more delighting, than if he had demanded it for himself."

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Infinite throws out the elected invention

From That Hideous Strength:

To those high creatures whose activity builds what we call nature, nothing is "natural." From their station the essential arbitrariness (so to call it) of every actual creation is ceaselessly visible; for them there are no basic assumptions: all springs with the wilful beauty of a jest or a tune from that miraculous moment of self-limitation wherein the Infinite, rejecting a myriad possibilities, throws out of himself the positive and elected invention.

On equality

From That Hideous Strength:

"Yes, we must all be guarded by equal rights from one another's greed, because we are fallen. Just as we must all wear clothes for the same reason. But the naked body should be there underneath the clothes, ripening for the day when we shall need them no longer. Equality is not the deepest thing, you know." ... "It is not your fault. They never warned you. No one has ever told you tht obedience--humility--is an erotic necessity. You are putting equality just where it ought not to be." ... "But you see that obedience and rule are more like a dance than a drill--specially between man and woman where the roles are always changing."

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Ode to a walled garden

From That Hideous Strength:

Freud said we liked gardens because they were symbols of the female body. But that must be a man's point of view. Presumably gardens meant something different in women's dreams. Or did they? Did men and women both feel interested in the female body and even, though it sounded ridiculous, in almost the same way? A sentence rose to her memory. "The beauty of the female is the root of joy to the female as well as to the male, and it is no accident that the goddess of Love is older and stronger than the god."