The Luxury of a Boring Fourth of July
Seated Woman, Back Turned to the Open Window

When I realized that every morning I would see this light again, I couldn’t believe my luck.  –Henri Matisse, arriving in Nice, France

My mother and I spent the Fourth of July working in her apartment in Washington, preparing for her imminent move to Roanoke. In the evening, we found ourselves rather tired.  So we plopped down in front of her telly to watch “A Capitol Fourth” on PBS.  We soon got bored.

What a luxury that was!  Bored on the Fourth of July.  Would that our French brothers and sisters could have passed a boring Bastille Day yesterday.

The cruelest and most inhumane aspect of such massacres:  Leaving the victims with no time to prepare themselves for death.  As the Ghost put it, in Act I, scene 5, of Hamlet, complaining about the manner in which he had been murdered:

Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother’s hand
Of life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatch’d:
Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,
Unhousel’d, disappointed, unanel’d,
No reckoning made, but sent to my account
With all my imperfections on my head:
O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!

This month’s First Things magazine has an article about the “Death of God” movement of the 1960’s.  The movement had a fascinating theology:  Since God has “emptied Himself”  in Christ (Philippians 2:7), God qua God no longer exists.

Logo for Holy Year of MercyAn attack on “bourgeoisie piety.”  Incapable of withstanding any serious theological scrutiny.  God, after all, by definition exists.  That God exists is one of the fundamental, undeniable truths of human life.

But let’s give the God-is-dead theologians the credit that they do deserve. We do not know God. His plans, His designs–His very being–all transcend our minds’ capacity to grasp. By an infinite order of magnitude.

Where is God when such terrible things happen, Father?! Where is He all the time, my child? Not within the compass of our minds.

Christ came, and taught, and suffered, and died, and rose again–in order to bridge the gap.  The God-is-dead theologians were correct in asserting that God has died: God died in the flesh in order to reveal Himself to us.  In order to reveal the infinite, undying triune love.

Yes, the sunlight on the French Riviera reveals God’s majesty. But it also hides God’s majesty. To see God in His full glory, we must fix our gaze on Christ crucified. Because there the Heart of God has thrown Itself open.

Has 2016 been a “Year of Mercy” so far?  Perhaps much more than we can even imagine. The wounds of Christ crucified have filled the airwaves. May He gather all our souls, and every soul, to Himself.


Matisse Jazz
One of Matisse’s Jazz cut-outs, which he did while at Nice.

2 thoughts on “The Luxury of a Boring Fourth of July

  1. How wonderful that your Mom is moving to Roanoke. I mentioned having read your blog with those news to the girls at church on Friday after Mass and one of them said: Oh my, what is he going to do when he “makes” bishop and has to move to Richmond. Always thinking ahead! Miss you, Lori

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