Death? Been there and done that. Let us get along with life


At our Cathedral in Reno Nevada we will soon celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. Non-Christians argue God is either One, or Trinity. “Can God create a rock so big he cannot pick it up?” Christians reply with the ontological argument, “Imagine the perfect thing. To be perfect implies existence. This perfect being/God must exist.” Does God exist or not?

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St. Thomas Aquinas, the patron of our humble parish, St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral said. “Reginald, I cannot, because all that I have written seems like straw to me.”

Ludwig Wittgenstein replied, “If God is transcendent, he transcends logic. If he transcends logic, he transcends words. If he transcends words, he transcends anything we can say about him.” “The sense of the world must lie outside the world. Ethics is transcendental. Ethics & Aesthetics are one. There is indeed the inexpressible. It is mystical.” “Whoever understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. He must surmount these propositions; then he sees the world rightly.”

God is Three in One. We are discussing the Transcendent and logic. We speak gibberish because we speak of a transcendent religious experience. When confronted with the question of the rock so big God could not pick it up, a rabbi replied, “I don’t know. I do know he parted the Red Sea, drowned the Egyptian Army, defeated the Babylonians, they are no longer here, and the Assyrians, also gone, the Greeks and Romans, all gone, and I stand here before you today, a rescued, free man. If God is that powerful, I am not picking any fights with him. Are you?”

We live in the world of paradox. We must express the inexpressible to each other, to our children and the world. The Jewish community’s religious experience is Sinai/Horeb. Deuteronomy 4, read at our Cathedral Holy Trinity Sunday, and Deuteronomy 5:1-7 relate this experience. Catholics experience an identical religious experience whenever we attend Mass.

St. Paul tells us, “You died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” “You were buried with him in baptism…” When Acts 9 discusses the conversion of St. Paul it looks like a near-death experience. There is the sudden immersion in a powerful light and communication with the light. Acts 9:3 Acts 9 relates how St. Paul talks with the light and nobody else hears anything. The discussion is solely between God and St. Paul. When St. Paul says we died with Christ and are buried with him, he is to be taken literally. As a community of people who died, we try to talk about our experience with this transcendence.

What proof do we have this happened? The Near-Death article relates how science researched near-death experiences. It could neither prove nor disprove them. That leaves the Catholic; Christian community describing what is beyond science.

Romans 8, the chapter most strongly speaking of the Holy Spirit in Romans tells us, “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. You did not receive a spirit of menial labor to fall back into fear; you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father…” If only we suffer with him to be made important with him.”

Just like with the Jewish community at Sinai, God chooses us to be heirs, inheritors of the new Garden of Eden, the new land of Israel. We are a community of people who died. There is no room for fear. “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?” We are already dead and buried. We are a community crying “Abba, Father!” “Abba” comes from “Ha Bah,” the Lamb who is to come. “Abba” also comes from “Ah Ha Bah,” “Love,” in Hebrew.

Does this mean our suffering is over? Not yet! as St. Paul tells us. Suffering continues. Just like the Jewish community which relives their suffering in Egypt through the Passover Seder, we relive our death, burial, and resurrection in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, through the Anaphora, as we call upon the Holy Spirit to join us in reliving Jesus death and our death with him, and in the narrative, which recounts that death. Death? Been there and done that. Let us get along with life, for ourselves and for each other.

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