Holloway on… The Word: Certain And Sure in All His Ways
Holloway on… The Word: Certain And Sure in All His Ways
Kneeling before the Christmas Crib we ponder the Word most certain and the certainty of His Word. For: In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was made nothing that was made. ( St. John, the Prologue).
When we say word in English we stress first a sound or a written sign, and only afterwards acknowledge that it has a meaning. Not so for the wonderful culture which was ancient Greece. In Greek the Word is Logos from which our word logic comes. The Greek stresses first of all that the Word is mind, the content of a man’s wisdom, the content also of his personality, of that good and noble
balance of the truth in which the attraction of his living person stands. So for St John: in the Beginning was The Word, the Divine Mind, the Personal Mind and Wisdom who is God. Through that Mind, purpose of a love which is all joy, all things were conceived and made. This is the Mind most Certain and most sure. This Mind or Word which is God is the measure of all things, and in the spawning of the universe all things were gathered up in that Mind in certainty of nature and of goodness, of purpose and of plan. We too were there, and before the Christmas Crib we rest in sweet peace, for we know our place, and we have our place through Him. In My Father’s House there are many mansions, and I am gone before, to prepare a place for you.
Expecting the Word
Kneeling at the Crib we take heart. The Creation is founded through the very Being of The Word. Therefore it is founded upon clear meaning, sharply defined truth, and bountiful joy. It is founded upon Truth. It is not built upon the sand of agnosticism, human opinion, and human uncertainty. If there is now a phenomenon of The Uncertain Church, it is not His Church, who is The Word. They were among us, but they were never of us, or they would not have gone out from us (1 John 2:19). This Uncertain Church is th age old phenomenon of human error and human sin. Why do they never learn? It has happened again and again in the history of mankind. Why do we presume that we are better than our fathers, and are beyond error and sin, and the leprosy of heresy? There is nothing to preserve us from sin except humility under the mighty hand of God! This Uncertain Church is the dual magisterium, the voice of dissent, but a voice against the Church built into the Body of the Word which is God. This Body of Christ will not be vanquished by the virus nor the sickness be unto death, for the Gates of Hell, i.e. sheol, principle of death and sin, will not prevail against her, by the very promise of the Word whose human birth we sing in hymn and happy carol at this season.
A Christmas Certainty
So: In the Beginning was the Word. And we know how that wonderful Prologue comes to its climax: “and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” So Mind and Reason, definite and absolute, has framed the universe, and it is not hard to believe it, for all the wisdoms and sciences of man’s modern world are gathered up into a unity of meaning, and the patterns of the laws of the sciences run over, the one into another. There is no mindlessness here, and it is foolish to be an Atheist, or to be an Agnostic. Nothing was ever discovered, used, or purposed except through Mind, through the principle of The Word, and the universe is full of it, and gives witness unto Him.
Our lives have meaning
In the Crib we look with joy upon the consolation of God’s certainty given to us, and given for us. Our lives have meaning, and from that recognition joy fills our heart. This joy spreads out over hearth and home. There is no toil without meaning, nothing so little that it does not matter. For the tasks of daily life, the cleaning and the washing and the bathing and the infant demands, all of them are gathered up with the very explosion of the universe of which they are all part, into the meaningful Dispensation of the Loving God. Loving He is, because first He knows that He loves and brings it to perfection in that balance of truth we call holiness: holiness is the perfect good, and to proclaim the perfect is to proclaim the true. We have no deep and faithful love without spiritual truth, stability, and certainty in the principle, the way of living of that truth. Come to think of it, it was written at the end of the unrevised marriage service, (another gem of spiritual intuition thoughtlessly thrown out) “and thereto I plight thee my troth”. “And to these vows, I pledge you life-long truth”. There is no life-long love without that spiritual truth which subjects and subdues all that belongs to the body to the law and statute of the spiritual truth. The truth of the spirit is not uncertain, for the spirit is made to the likeness of the Eternal Word.
The birth of Jesus Christ is the marriage of God with human nature; and in Him, God Incarnate, Emmanuel, we have the pledge of betrothal, the Truth, the certainty of the Divine Love in the unchanging wisdom of the Divine Mind. How it lifts up our lives and our loves and bursts into homely, lovely songs, the most beautiful of true folk music, which we call the carols, in every tongue and in the culture of every nation. There would be no Christmas joy except for the certainty of the Word made Flesh: that this Child is Son of Man and Eternal Son of God, most sure in all his ways, to quote the hymn of Cardinal Newman, most prescient as a writer of hymns, because most saintly of soul.
Expecting the Word
Expect the Word. Through Advent to Midnight Mass, expect the Word and the Coming of the Word. Look for ‘The Word’ in the starry sky around you. At His fiat it exploded from not-being into reality. At the word of the Word it put on meaning like a garment and wove itself, ascending in majesty through the ages, a monument to Mind, and a song of praise and love. It is His very Advent, which also is His footstool, this lovely universe, and this world of ours into which mostly certainly He has come. It is His Advent because it is made for Him, foretells Him, and gives of its own, in the womb of Mary to welcome Him. In the Crib, Advent ends, when the Woman clothed with the Sun, crowned with the stars, with the moon at her feet, lays in the manger the Son of God and the Son of Man. The certainty of God, predestined from before the foundation of the world, has triumphed in the event, and despite the Fall of Man, the Sacrament of Creation, and its Holy Order, is realised in the Body and Blood of Jesus the Christ. There is no uncertain word in the Living Word of God.
In truth and in joy
Expect the Word in truth and in joy. Expect His certainty in your own mind and heart, reflection as you are of God Almighty, made as ‘son’ through the Logos. Expect Him in the certain craving of your being to know Him, and to love Him. You must expect to pray, you must expect prayer to burst through your soul, upwards to Him. So does a baby cry out for mother’s love and mother’s milk, and mother’s redeeming care: “My little children like new born babes, seek your natural milk, without guile” (1 Peter 2:1). It is the very law of life, and the cry of your very being for the certainty which is the Life, and the Love, of God.
Expect the Word, as it rises in human life and ages. It is thrown up in king and counsellor, in patriarch and sage, in the senior of the people and the wise women of the tribes. Expect it much more then, in priest and prophet too. Expect the words of the Word, for He will strive to get through. This is His Advent in history. Expect Him to give sign of His coming. You will find it. Layer after layer of scripture and tradition, prophet after prophet, great priest after great priest. You will find as well the littleness and the sin, the uncertainty of doctrine, the lusts of the heart. Yes, you will find the adumbration also of the Crucifixion, but over it all the certainty of The Event as the Word of scripture and tradition rises majestically over sin and death, to the Incarnation of the Son of God. Christmas is the Feast of the Word Most Certain. And be sure, as He came as He said He would, and rose in the transfigured flesh of His suffering body, so he will come again, as He has said He would. For the Word of God is terrible in His utter certainty: let His enemies know it, and tremble while there is yet time for a change of heart.
Expect the Word:
Again, as the Bread and Wine of human life: for He is the food of life and immortality. His Being is the Vine, the grapes of which are the Blood that inebriates and gives life. Expect Him in His Christmas Gift upon the Altar, for He is all your life. Therefore expect Him, and know Him in the Breaking of Bread, for this is the Incarnation again, the Enfleshment of the Word of Life and Joy, descending upon matter, as first He descended into the Virgin’s womb. Praise Him for His Grace and Favour: He must so come upon the Bread and the Wine, for He is very source of life, the epitome, in the Incarnation, of the supernatural destiny of Man itself. His Body and His Blood must share in all the work of His Divinity. Expect Him then, upon the Cross, and in the Resurrection from the Cross. Expect Him also changing Bread and Wine: for He is God, and in all the work of man’s transformation into God, the fulness of the Word Made Flesh must share. Know Him also, in the gift of the Altar, as the sum of all the attributes of blessedness, with hope. Know in the Eucharist that matter is good, and made without sin, and that God has gathered it around Himself, and made it His own Body.
On this night
Expect the Lord of the Word in the Mass of Midnight. This, rather than the Vigil of Easter, is the Supper which the King made for His Son and Heir. This is a fact of liturgy and of doctrine for which we have the sensus fidelium, the common consent of the people of God, without any doubt. For on this night, and to this Mass there come not those who were invited, the theologians of the contradictory magisterium, the sophisticated chaplains of the rich and pampered, the prelates of the Word Uncertain, the Word ambiguous. There come instead, compelled to come in by the urge of the Holy Spirit, from the highways and byways, the hedges and cross roads of life, the poor, the halt, the blind and the lame; the lapsed and the lost, a motley crowd. This is the very driftwood of life, yet suddenly in the burst of lights and the pealing of the Angelus, there is raised up to God in voice and in aspiration ,of spirit a Palace of Cedar wood, all the splendour of Lebanon. As it is written of this Jerusalem of God, built of the living souls of men, “Jerusalem, strip off the garment of your sorrow and affliction and put on for ever the glorious majesty that is the gift of God. Wrap about you his robe of righteousness; set on your head for diadem the splendour of the Everlasting: for God will show your radiance to every land under heaven. You shall receive from God for ever the name Righteous Peace, City of Godly Splendour” (Baruch 5: 1-4).
The Word: Certain and Everlasting
Expect then the Word, enfleshed in Holy Writ and Sacred Tradition. Expect the certain, everlasting truth and witness of the Mind which is the Word Eternal. His truth and his teaching are from age to age, his certainty is everlasting, His promise and His prohibition, both do not change with times and with cultures. For Man is made to the likeness of this Word, and the likeness is first in the soul, and the soul is immaterial and changeless in nature. Through the spirit of a man, God the Word has given one wisdom and one Law to matter and sense, and that law and that truth do not change. The spirit can only grow, grow in a straight line of constant ascent. Matter can c hange its forms and its laws, but Man, made to the likeness of The Word Eternal has one law and one truth of life, from Adam to the Second Coming of the Christ The wisdom of the Word Made Flesh is measured by the divine name of Everlasting. There is no dissembling before Him; only the pathetic lie of the sheep which has lost its way. Anticipate the Word of Infallible Magistracy from the babe laid in swaddling clothes in the manger. It will stand in lasting Good News throughout all times and cultures: the truth may hurt, but the truth is always—good news. Expect the same inerrant magistracy also in the Word of the Church in which He lives, and speaks, till the end of the ages. From the office of the Divine Christ within her, it must be a certain Word. It will ring out in Council, and in Pope, for so to speak is of the very commission of the Word Incarnate: “He who hears you, hears Me, and he who hears Me, hears the One who sent Me”. Expect it also, from the very nature of the Economy, or Sacrament, of the Incarnation in the formulas by which chiefly the Church defines, and you will find what you expect: Auctoritate Domini Nostri Jesu Christi, Sanctorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli, ac Nostra, definimus, declaramus et promulgarnus. “By the Authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and Our Own, we define, declare and promulgate.” One Authority of Christ, living among men in Peter, Paul, and Us: no uncertain word. For The Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us, and the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory is His, the Kingdom of The Most Certain Word, for ever and ever.
“Oh Thou, Word uttered and proceeding from the mouth of the Most High, command of beginnings and of endings: orderer of all things with sweetness yet with power: come unto us, Word and Wisdom of our life and our way”. (Office of Advent, Dec 17th).
This article was the Editorial for November/December 1976 issue of Faith magazine. It has been slightly edited.