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EXULTET!!

April 15, 2017

EXULTET!

DEAR FRIENDS:

       EXULTET! Rejoice, rejoice, indeed, as we are moved to wonder at the infinite love that Jesus’ Paschal Mystery has lavished upon us, at the wonder of the holy “opposites” that the Exultet conveys: “O felix culpa, quae talem ac tantum meruit habere redemptores” (O happy guilt, that has merited for us such a redeemer!), “O certe necessarium Adae peccatum, quod Christi mortem deletum est” (O necessary sin of Adam, destroyed by the death of Christ),  “O inaestimabilis dilectio caritatis: ut servum redimeres, Filium tradidisti!” (O priceless charity of divine love: to redeem the servant, you handed over the Son)

    How awesome,these seemingly irreconcilable contrasts, that bespeak, in and of themselves, the depths of Salvation History! How can anyone redeem the slave by handing over His own Son? How can sin, guilt, be “happy” (felix)? How can sin be “necessary”? – Of course, this is the language of poetry, BUT it conveys depths of theological wonder, of unthinkable love, in a way that defies academic discourse, and can only be conveyed by the inexhaustible possibilities of poetry! It is nothing more and nothing less that the genius of a true mystic, a Doctor and Father of the Latin Church, Ambrose of Milan (historians have proposed other authors), seeking, fumbling in the dark for words that can do justice to the Love that is given to us in this Holy Night –      Quite obviously, no human words can ever grasp Holy Mystery – from the inspired jewels of the New Testament Resurrection Narratives, so diverse, so richly different in their Christologies, and abover all, in their Ecclesiologies, to Augustine and Maximus the Confessor (580-662), to Karl Rahner, the Christian community has been jolted, time and again, into remembering that Love itself is Holy Mystery, and that mystery, as Gabriel Marcel reminded us, is not a problem to be solved, but a reality we can only participate in, a reality that defines and suffuses our most intimate self –
      Yes, indeed, EXULTET! – Rejoice, for tonight the dawn of a Light so bright, so splendid, has allowed earth to sprout forth its most precious fruit, has allowed heaven to embrace the earth, Life to conquer the ravages of death, and Love to banish hatred –
       Yes, in the face of hunger, poverty, racism, hatred, marginalization, we can still cry EXULTET! for we know that death, poverty, hunger, discrimination will NOT have the last word – That oppression and hatred have already been judged and destroyed by this Holy Night, by the Paschal Vigil, where all the pathways of Salvation History converge, where hope for the final triumph of Love blossoms ever anew
      Oremus pro invicem
      Sixto

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