Suddenly, there was a bright orange glow filling the hermitage. It was not the ad interim sanctuary candle (while some construction goes on), but rather the sunrise breaking through the clouds. On my trek down the mountain to do some chicken chores for the neighbor, who’s pretty sick right now (Hail Mary…) I got a couple more pictures of the ferocity of the blazing skies…
Taking the recommendation of Saint Teresa of Avila, I like to make some analogies with the spiritual life with what I see in nature. The fire in the skies reminds me of the ferocious — truly — cherubim of Genesis 3,24. They are not cute kids with wings and some sort of look of heavenly boredom on their faces, as with the putti of Raphael’s Sistine Madonna (which we had hanging in my home when I was a kid who did not have a bored look on his face).
Rather, the cultural imagery reflected some of the reality of the cherubs’ – dare I say it again — ferocity:
They are guardians. They morphed into this following depiction. The sword would be on fire, and that fire would be the Lord’s grace, the enmity with Satan promised by the Son of the Mother of the Redeemer back in Genesis 3,15.
That sword, in the Hebrew description, turns everything to its contrary, so that if Adam reaches out to the Tree of Life, he’ll be cut down until he receives from that Tree instead of taking it from it. If he grabs, he doesn’t know what he is grabbing. But if he receives, it is according to the providence of the Giver, our Lord Himself, from the Tree of Life which is the Cross. I am reminded of the O.C.D. coat of arms, which depicts Elijah holding the flaming sword. Yikes! Note the cherub at the bottom.
Anyway, the firey ad orientem skies shining on the ad orientem altar at Holy Souls Hermitage reminds me that I had better be in humble thanksgiving before the Lord, and not think that I am somehow grotesquely entitled to receive, as if I could just grab the Most Blessed Sacrament. Ugghhh! No. I am nothing, less than nothing. I’ve put our Lord to death by my sins. Only humble thanksgiving as a gift from the Lord would somehow make it appropriate for me to receive the Lord’s gift of Himself from the altar, from His Holy Sacrifice.