Monday, 3 November 2008

Plus Ultra

The dead, preserved not only in our memory, but at Cabelas, near Pittsburgh.

I have no pictures of pretty black vestments from today’s Mass, but it is my fervent hope that someone here will remedy that.

Christopher Columbus died in 1506 in Valladolid, Spain. In that city there stands a monument to honor him. Part of the monument is a stone lion, which is devouring the words Ne Plus Ultra, which means “No More Beyond.” Before Columbus made his voyage west, Spaniards believed that they had reached the end of all that was; there were indeed no more lands that they did not know. It is indeed fitting that the lion is devouring the Ne part of the phrase, leaving “More Beyond.”

So it is for us as we remember the souls of the departed today, praying for them and praying for ourselves. Too many people think that there is no more beyond, and so live now as if it does not matter. It matters for many reasons, most importantly, and most widely talked about by Christians, are the eschatological reasons. But even beyond that, what we do now matters, and there is more beyond living for ourselves. Not least of which is the life of Christ, whose example and words lead us to seek that which is beyond our current understanding of the world and our place in it. To love without limits. To not only care for the poor and disenfranchised, but to put ourselves on that level, thus bringing Christ Incarnate to them, instead of dangling him somewhere above their heads. To work for the coming Kingdom, as Jesus taught us in his Prayer that has received such excellent reviews.

Our life beyond- our Plus Ultra- is of paramount importance, for we long to run to the arms of God (excuse my metaphor), to be held, and to be, once again, absorbed in the cosmic mystery of the one who sustains and redeems. Our life here and now, even without the hope of reunion with God, would be most lacking without everything that our Lord taught us, and continues to teach us, daily.
I am come that they might have life,
and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
In this month of prayer for the dead, may we never neglect the land of the living. The land of the coming Kingdom. The land of our Incarnate God.

Pax et bonum.