Yes: Time. Again.

EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE my WordPress stats will indicate a very old post (today, from 2015) and I’ll discover that I’m not thinking anything new to me – but rather that I’ve been chewing on the same cud for most of the last 25 years. The whole recent string starting with mists and ending in the most recent post about personhood seems to have been on my mind continually since 2002, at least. Ongoing discussion of how self-identification relates to personhood is also of an equally-long standing. I’m finding, now (literally, this morning) that both of those themes relate to something called personalism. I’m not quite sure what that means, but I know it was Pope St John Paul’s school of philosophy. So I need to keep digging there. Since that school speaks of our relationship to, with, and in God it may also have something to do with my third theme: the incarnation, time, the eucharist, and salvation. It’s here we’ll stay just now.

Pope Benedict XVI said, “Every time the Mass is celebrated, every time Christ makes himself sacramentally present in his Church, the work of our salvation is accomplished.” (13 Sep 2008 Source, ret’vd 12 Apr 23). This phrase is currently in a prayer used on the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, quoting from both Lumen Gentium and Sacrosanctum Concilium and previously it was the Secret prayer for the 9th Sunday after Pentecost. How is it possible that each time the Mass is offered our salvation is carried out? The Latin is “opus nostrae redeptionis exercetur” where “exercetur” is variously rendered as “wrought” or “carried out” or even “exercised”.

Meditating and chewing on this, it seems that in some way, though the grace of mediation, the Church is granted to not “time travel to the cross” at Mass, but rather the reverse: Each Mass is the first mass. Each Mass is not just the result of our Lord’s work on the Cross. It is our Lord’s work on the Cross.

In the incarnation the Second Hypostasis of the Trinity, the Divine Son, took upon himself a human nature, uniting it fully to his pre-eternal divine nature. In what way, then, does the God-Man experience time? Is it possible to say that in the Divine-Human Hypostasis there is also a union of Kairos and Chronos? Is there a way in which the Son moves through time while still being in eternity? The prayers of Pascha from the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom seem to say this, “In the tomb with the body, in hell with the soul as God, in paradise with the thief and on the throne with the Father and the Spirit, You fill all things, O boundless Christ.” So is there a Chronostasis, if you will, making all things the God-Man has done eternally present? The eternal actions of the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Ascension, and the Glorious Second Coming are all commemorated in the Divine Liturgy, even though the latter – for us – has not yet happened. However, for God, it is also eternally present.

Thoughts in development.

Update after 3 hours: a friend reminded me that St Ephraim the Syrian thought it possible that the entire Garden of Eden story occurred outside of time and that our parents only began to experience Kronos after the Fall. I’ve never been a fan of that theological pattern because it seems to make the whole thing too mythological. However if Kronos and Kairos overlap and diverge exactly at the Fall the implications of this post are even stronger. It would be sensible, then, that someone experiencing both Kairos and Kronos in his person would be required to make Atonement, uniting the times again.

Author: Huw Raphael

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He is almost 59. He feeds the homeless as a parochial almoner and is studying to be a Roman Catholic Deacon. He is learning modern Israeli Hebrew and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.

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