Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happy Easter Vigil Day

Today we wait while Jesus sleeps in his tomb. Or harrows hell. My husband Bill had a picture on his PC of Jesus lying on a slab, dead. I couldn't tell what medium it was in, it almost looked like a photograph, but not quite.

Last week I attended a talk by Alex Pruss on time. He went over two primary philosophical theories about time, with the pros and cons of each. Theory B says that all events that we call past, present and future are equally real. That's a simplification and a good deal of the argument was technical and over my head. But under theory B, I think you can make a case that when we contemplate the mysteries of the rosary, we have access to those events themselves in a real way, because of the way the universe is constructed.

I once wrote, in a philosophy paper, that the Mass was the one true example of time travel. My teacher, of course, was Catholic, now my fellow Catholic Scholar Kate Rogers. But it isn't really time travel because during the eucharistic liturgy, Christ is present in his eternal sacrifice. It's outside of time, in an eternal present.

So yesterday I was thinking about the eternal present of the Way of the Cross. It's not that Jesus re-enacts his Passion over and over again on Good Friday, or when we contemplate the sorrowful mysteries. It's that those events, those salvific moments are made present to us in the celebration of liturgy and (in a different way?) in contemplative prayer. Kate Rogers says that the reason it is literally true that Christ died for each of us, even though we weren't born until way later than the historical moment of his death, is because in that eternal present of his sacrifice we can communicate to him, make ourselves known to him, be known by him, in an exchange of persons. That somehow has to do with this theory B of time which depends on non-temporal relationships, rather than relationships between temporal moments, to explain how event A is related to event B.

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