Wednesday, January 14, 2009

In Defense of Death...

(thanks to David O'Hara for posting this article on Facebook)

In this New York Times article, David Brooks reflects on Richard John Neuhaus' recent death and his perspective of death. This is one of many recent articles recalling and giving honor to one of the premier voices in American Catholicism.

In the article, Brooks tells the story of Neuhaus' own brush with death earlier in his life that dramatically impacted the remainder of his life. Neuhaus, in reflecting on administering the Eucharist said, "“After some time, I could shuffle the few blocks to the church and say Mass. At the altar, I cried a lot and hoped the people didn’t notice. To think that I’m really here after all, I thought, at the altar, at the axis mundi, the center of life. And of death.”

What a beautiful statement and thought. Standing at the altar, offering the elements to the community of faith that while localized in this spot extends universally to all places and from this present time to all times of past and future. How often do we recognize the weight of this? How often do we consider the simultaneous condensing and expansion of time and place in the Eucharist? Do we see it at the axis mundi...the place where heaven and earth meet...a sacred place, time, merging into sacred event? In the Eucharist do we see the necessary minglings, as Neuhaus did, of life and death?