Dvd translations - Père Gustave
I've started to translate into English some of what my friend Fr. Gustave says on the dvd that I mention in my previous post so that I can use it in my R.E. classes. It's wonderful stuff, but I fear that my translation does not even come anyway close to doing him justice. You have to hear him deliver it with the enthusiasm and passion that inhabits him (see the video link also in the previous post). Anyway, here goes a few extracts:
Death + Resurrection
- God is all-powerful. He created a natural world (the universe) which is not all-powerful but that does have the power to inflict death as a natural event. Through the resurrection, God offers us victory over the natural world in Jesus’ body, the body of a man that is at the same time God in human form. So, if nature/death defeated Jesus Christ (God-made-flesh) in his body through the crucifixion, in that same body death has been defeated by the resurrection.
- In the death + resurrection of Jesus, God himself passes through death, experiences death and makes of death a passage to new life in him. Henceforth, Christ’s resurrected body is no longer in the world. The world is in him. That’s the essence of the mystery of the resurrection. It operates an inversion: death to life, ‘minus’ to ‘plus’. The ‘minus’ that is the death of Christ is shot through by a power that transforms it from a ‘minus’ (death) to a ‘plus’ (resurrection) [accompanied by appropriate horizontal + vertical hand gestures]. Death is defeated in Christ.
- No human could have ever witnessed the event of the resurrection as it transcended the limits of our physical universe. We are conditioned, our boundaries are set by the limits of our universe, the natural world. This act of God which transcends, which goes totally beyond the limit imposed by death, i.e. the limit of our own mortality, is an act that escapes human understanding. We can proclaim “Christ is risen!”, but no-one would have been able to witness the act itself.
- He who lived in the world and died in the world a mortal human being reappears in the world after the resurrection having gone beyond death. He is no longer in the world. The world is in him. But it is necessary for him to appear to his followers, so he appears in such a way that whilst fully remaining the man Jesus of Nazareth he is at the same time he whose being transcends the limits of time and space.
- Not a place, but rather a state of existence that transcends the natural world. When nature finishes with us, we enter the realm where it is possible to finally see and understand fully the resurrected Jesus in all his glory, a glory that dazzles us.
- Death plunges us into the dazzling, blinding light of Jesus Christ who, in his resurrection, exists in a form that God wants us to also assume.
- In discovering Jesus in all his glory, we discover the limits of our earthly perception, we discover our weakness and the extent to which we fall short of his glory. “I don’t believe it! So that’s who he is. I didn’t love him the way I should have, he who through the power of his love saves me from the pain of death.” Hence our need for purification.
- My own paraphrase of Fr. Gustave: Purgatory is therefore a purification of our fragile humanity through the discovery of him who is the light of creation, stripping away all our dead wood to reveal the glory of our deepest identity as children of God, allowing us to enter into that full union with God, through his Son, to which we were invited before all the worlds began. God is waiting there for us, a loving father with open arms, and all we have to do is let go of all that holds us back and run into his merciful embrace.