The Great Secret of the Christian

The stoics, ancient and modern, were proud of concealing their tears. He never concealed His tears… yet, He concealed something. Solemn supermen and imperial diplomats are proud of restraining their anger. He never restrained his anger. He flung furniture down the front steps of the temple and asked men how they expected to escape the damnation of Hell. Yet, He restrained something. I say it with reverence: there was, in that shattering personality, a thread that must be called shyness. There was something that He hid from all men when he went up the mountain to pray. There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when he walked upon our earth. And I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth.

This is the wardrobe into Narnia. This is the door out of our agonized world of spiritual darkness where ignorant armies clash by night. This is the joy the New Testament speaks of in the strangest way anyone has ever spoken of joy. It is the joy of Christ. That came in the most unlikely time and place in all of history: Calvary. It is the secret of Him who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross. Despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of God. This is the joy that conquered Hell on the cross. The joy that was the door Christ saw behind the cross; the cross-shaped door whose other side is a crown. The death-shaped mask worn by the Lord of Life.

The only adequate answer to our century of genocide, the triumph of the principalities and powers of wickedness in heavenly places, and the threat of a Brave New World and the abolition of Man… is the secret that frees us into this gesture of relaxation. That is the culmination of the great dance. The smile on the face of God.

In conclusion: optimism or pessimism about our future? About the third millennium? Will we reach the joyful cosmology, or will we not? I have no crystal ball anymore than you do, but we have clues. So my bottom line is optimism. Because, apocalyptically decadent ages elicit Saints. Suffering elicits courage, compassion, heroism, martyrdom. Evil elicits Good in response. Bad times make Good people…as mountainous pressures make diamonds or as fire tempers steel. I think we should have great hopes for our society. For if she emerges from her present crisis, she will be stronger than ever before.

In merely American terms, look at the wars we have fought and the war we are now fighting. Defeating British economic tyranny in the Revolutionary War only gave us political independence. Defeating slavery in the Civil War gave us only personal freedom for all. Defeating fascist totalitarianism in World War II gave us only a free world. But defeating moral decadence and confusion and the joyless cosmology and reductionism would give us joy and moral strength and clarity and perhaps even holiness.

For the more dangerous the enemy, the more precious the victory.

Either we will build Gothic cathedrals again from a restored faith, or we will build the Tower of Babel again from a restored apostasy. And Lewis, like all prophets, gives us the roadmap and the clear choice between the two roads of Life or Death, Joy or Misery …and the mosaic simplicity of the challenge. Choose Life. Please do. Please help save the world. Please be a Saint.”

This excerpt comes from a powerful lecture titled “The Cosmic Dance,” prepared by Peter Kreeft. 

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The Blood of Martyrs

I was on my way home with friends after a weekend in Wenatchee, where a group had come together to celebrate our friend’s decision and coming departure to become a Catholic priest. Upon dropping off said friend at his current residence, the rectory at St. Benedict, he kindly gave us a quick tour of his new home, introduced us to two other men undergoing a similar process of discernment, and showed us the private chapel in the rectory. The tour of the rectory made his journey all the more real and tangible for me, and I dove into a deeper state of reflection. It was with this mindset that I entered the chapel at Seattle University that same evening at 8 p.m., where I joined my little sister, a freshman at Seattle U, for Mass.

We were fortunate to hear the words of Fr. Steve Sundborg that night, the University president, who proved to be a worthy vessel for what was an unexpected but galvanizing message. As he prepared to offer his homily, Fr. Steve’s presence took on a somber tone. He began describing the events of November 16, 1989: six Jesuit priests in El Salvador were murdered, along with their housekeeper and her daughter. The killings took place at the campus of Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in San Salvador. The victims were gunned down by armed men who were members of the Atlacatl Battalion, “an elite unit of the Salvadoran Army.” Several of the Jesuit victims were associated with liberation theology — a stance that countered the army in its effort to serve the poor majority in Latin America. That night, “some of the victims were found with their brains scooped out, a gesture of warning to intellectuals and academics.”

This horrendous series of murders rightfully shook the Jesuit community, and Fr. Steve recounted his own experience upon hearing of the attack. Early in the morning 26 years ago, as he sat in a Jesuit communal hall eating his breakfast, he saw a young Jesuit priest run into the hall weeping, bearing the news of the tragedy. Fr. Steve went on to share how the lives of these martyrs has galvanized the Jesuit community since then. Each year, Jesuit campuses commemorate the tragedy through a service or memorial gesture. For Fr. Steve and so many Jesuit priests in particular, the killings reinforced a personal commitment to their work. He referenced a phrase once established in the year 197— the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians.