“Heaven” and the Ascension

“To understand it [heaven], let us skip all approximations and go straight to the point: Heaven is the intimate reserve of holy God, that which St. Paul calls the “light inaccessible” which he inhabits, unapproachable for any creature (I Tim. 6:16). When we meet a person in the street or in a room, he stand there openly before us. We can look at him, photograph him, describe him, and can often guess a good deal of what is going on inside him. Withal, he is more or less ‘public.’ On one point, however, he remains impenetrable: his attitude towards himself, his manner of answering for himself and his acts. For the most part, man is absorbed by corporal, psychological, sociological realities; in other words, by public things. But there are certain moments when he retires into a corner of his being that is closed to others–into his most personal self. No one can violate that privacy; if it is to be opened, then only by opening itself. This is what happens in love, when a person not only permits himself to be observed, not only speaks about himself, but gives himself in vital exchange. If the other accepts him, likewise opening the way to his most intimate self, desire the other more than himself, entering into pure contemplation and exchange, the the two intimacies unite in a single community open to both participants, but closed to everyone else. The greater and deeper the person and his experience, the less accessible this inmost realm will be. But what if it is not question of a person, but of God? God, the incommensurable, infinite, simple; essence of truth and holiness? His reserve is absolute. Nothing can even approach it. God is all light because he is Truth itself; all clarity, because nothing can overshadow him; he is the Lord, free and genuine Being to whom all that is belongs–yet inaccessible in his light, mysterious in his truth, invulnerable in his kingdom. This initmate reserve of God is heaven, ‘destination’ of the risen Lord–and not only of his spirit, but of the whole resurrected Lord in all his living reality” (Romano Guardini, The Lord, p 429).

Christ on the cross

“Christ on the cross!  Inconceivable what he went through as he hung there.  In the degree that we are Christian and have learned to love the Lord, we begin to sense something of that mystery of utter helplessness, hopelessness.  This then the end of all effort and struggle!  Everything, without reserve–body, heart and spirit given over to the illimitable flame of omnipresent agony, to the terrible judgement of assumed world-sin that none can alleviate and whose horror only death can end.  Such the depths from which omnipotent love calls new creation into being.  Taking man and his world together, what impenetrable deception, what labyrinthian confusion, all-permeating estrangement from God, granitic hardness of heart!   This the terrible load Christ on the cross was to dissolve in God, and divinely assimilate into his own thought, heart, life and agony.  Ardent with suffering, he was to plunge to that ultimate depth, distance, center where the sacred power which formed the world from nothing could break into new creation” (Romano Guardini, The Lord, p 399-400).

Romano Guardini on Judas and betrayal

“Discussing Judas, we do well not to limit our attention entirely to him. He completed the treachery, but was he the only one touched by it? What did Peter do, whom Jesus had taken with him to the mountain of transfiguration and declared the Rock and Keeper of the Keys? When the danger became acute, accosting him in the miserable form of the wench who kept the gates, didn’t he declare “I do not know the man!” (Luke 22:56-57). And did he not insist, denying it “with an oath” once, twice, thrice (Matt. 26:72-74)? What is treachery if not this? That he does not go down to his doom in it, but is able to rise again through contrition and reform is due only to the grace of God… And John? He also fled, and the flight of one who had leaned on Jesus’ breast must have weighed particularly heavily. True, he returned and stood under the cross, but that he was able to do so was likewise a gift… All the others fled, dispersed like “the sheep of the flock” when the shepherd is struck (Matt. 26:31)… And the masses whose sick he had healed, whose hungry he had fed, whose burdens he had lightened—those in whom the Spirit had moved so that they had recognized him as the Messiah and cheered him—when it came to the choice, they preferred a highway robber… And Pilate? What moves us so strangely in his conversation with Christ is that for a moment the sceptical Roman seems to feel who Jesus is. We sense something of the wave of sympathy that passes between them. Then cold reason returns, and Pilate washes his hands (Matt. 27:24). No, what came to the surface in all its terrible nakedness in Judas, existed as a possibility all around Jesus. Fundamentally not one of his followers had much cause to look down on Judas. Continue reading

Romano Guardini on Jesus’ Death

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“If anyone should ask: What is certain in life and death–so certain that everything else may be anchored in it? That answer is: The love of Christ. Life teaches us that this is the only true reply. Not people–not even the best and dearest; not science, or philosophy, or art or any other product of human genius. Also not nature, which is so full of profound deception; neither time nor fate….Not even simply “God”; for his wrath has been roused by sin, and how without Christ would we know what to expect from him? Only Christ’s love is certain. We cannot even say God’s love; for that God loves us we also know, ultimately, only through Christ. And even if we did know without Christ that God loved us–love can also be inexorable, and the more noble it is, the more demanding. Only through Christ do we know that God’s love is forgiving. Certain is only that which manifested itself on the cross. What has been said so often and so inadequately is true: The heart of Jesus Christ is the beginning and end of all things” (The Lord p 400).