15 February 2013

"New" beginnings

I started this blog way back in April 2008 primarily to express my excitement over Pope Benedict's visit to the United States.  As my free time and enthusiasm faded, so did the frequency of my posts -- to the point where I only posted once every couple of years.  Given that this is a resurrection (of sorts) of this blog, I thought it might be nice to engage in some reflection on the origin of the title I chose way back in the day.  So, for the first day of my Lenten blogging project that isn't Ash Wednesday or Valentine's Day, I give you a reflection on the title of this blog.

Ecce nova facio omnia is an excerpt from Revelation 21:5 in the Vulgate.  The full verse is: Et dixit qui sedebat in throno: Ecce nova facio omnia. ("And the one who sat on the throne said: Behold, I make all things new.")

For a larger context, here is Revelation 21:1-7 (in the translation done by Msgr. Ronald Knox, which I highly recommend):
Then I saw a new heaven, and a new earth. The old heaven, the old earth had vanished, and there was no more sea. And I, John, saw in my vision that holy city which is the new Jerusalem, being sent down by God from heaven, all clothed in readiness, like a bride who has adorned herself to meet her husband. I heard, too, a voice which cried aloud from the throne, Here is God’s tabernacle pitched among men; he will dwell with them, and they will be his own people, and he will be among them, their own God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death, or mourning, or cries of distress, no more sorrow; those old things have passed away. And he who sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. (These words I was bidden write down, words most sure and true.)  And he said to me, It is over. I am Alpha, I am Omega, the beginning of all things and their end; those who are thirsty shall drink—it is my free gift—out of the spring whose water is life. Who wins the victory? He shall have his share in this; I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
Personally, I don't think there is a more beautiful scene in all of Holy Scripture than this one.  Though I had been familiar with this passage for some time prior, it was made especially poignant for me by two experiences I had during college.  The first was when I saw The Passion of the Christ -- in the scene where Jesus is on the way to Golgotha, He falls in front of his Blessed Mother.  While He is on the ground, crushed beneath the weight of the Holy Cross, He looks up at her and says: "See, mother, I make all things new."  Unfortunately, I can't find a clip of this scene that hasn't been removed from YouTube due to copyright restrictions.

I would not normally expect myself to be a fan of this kind of creative license taken with the Passion narrative, but this was an intensely powerful scene for me.  This line can be interpreted on a number of levels, but the most emotional for me was the comfort Our Lord gave to His Blessed Mother in her sorrow.  It was by His actions right there, more than at any other time, that He truly did make all things new by sanctifying the world with his blessed Passion and precious death and opening the way for us to attain that "new heaven" seen by St. John.

The second poignant experience I had with this passage from Revelation was when I first sang Bainton's And I saw a new heaven:

(If you make it all the way to the end, you'll notice that the lyrics end right before verse 5 and therefore do not include "Behold, I make all things new."  I still think it is a fantastic piece of music.)

It may be a bit selfish, but one of the main reasons I love this piece of music is that the tenor line contains the most beautiful line in the piece (starting around 2:45) -- "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."

This is not necessarily a blog about renewal per se, but the kind of renewal brought about by Our Lord's suffering, death, and ultimate triumph over the grave is of utmost importance to the Christian life.  In writing on issues relevant to the Church in the modern world, I hope to highlight areas where Our Lord continues to make all things new.

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