Father Romano Guardini

Proper focus upon Mary

And literally, every step the Lord took towards fulfillment of his godly destiny Mary followed—in bare faith. Comprehension came only with Pentecost. Then she understood all that she had so long reverently stored in her heart. It is this heroic faith which places her irrevocably at Christ’s side in the work of redemption, not the miracles of Marianic legend. Legend may delight us with deep and gracious images, but we cannot build our lives on imagery, least of all when the very foundations of our belief begin to totter. What is demanded of us, as of her, is a constant wrestling in fide with the mystery of God and with the evil resistance of the world. Our obligation is not delightful poetry but granite faith—more than ever in this age of absolutes in which the mitigating spell is falling from all things and naked opposites clash everywhere. The purer we see and understand the figure of the Mother of God as she is recorded in the New Testament, the greater the gain for our Christian lives.  –Father Romano Guardini ‘The Lord’


Stark reality

The young creature in the stall of Bethlehem was a human being with human brain and limbs and heart and soul. And it was God. Its life was to manifest the will of the Father: to proclaim the sacred tidings, to stir mankind with the power of God, to establish the Covenant, and shoulder the sin of the world, expiating it with love and leading mankind through the destruction of sacrifice and the victory of the Resurrection into the new existence of grace.  —Father Romano Guardini ‘The Lord’


Advent reflection on Our Lord: Jesus passing through

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me; to bring good news to the poor he has sent me, to proclaim to the captives release, and sight to the blind; to set at liberty the oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of recompense” (Is. 61:1–2).

Here counter-revelation—revelation of scandal and hate. Outburst of man’s irritation against God and the essence of God: holiness. Scandal is revolt against the living God. At the bottom of the human heart, side by side with longing for the eternal source and fulfillment of all things, lurks resistance to that source: elementary sin in its lair.

But the hour is Satan’s. From those who had just witnessed, amazed and moved, the grace and beauty of Jesus’ words, a paroxysm of rage breaks lose. They thrust him out of the synagogue and through the streets of the city to the precipice of the hill on which it lies, to hurl him from it. Rejection of the kingdom’s eternal, inexpressible abundance has become a living possibility. Already the cross stands waiting.

But what occurs here in Nazareth is an even greater proof of spiritual force. The excited mob, infuriated by neighborly hate and general demonic hysteria, surrounds Jesus, drives him up the hill to the brink of the precipice and tries to force him over it to his death. Suddenly, in the thick of the clamor and chaos, the quiet words: “But he, passing through their midst, went his way.” No return of violence for violence. Soundlessly, effortlessly, divine freedom walks right through the seething mob, its irresistible force bound by nothing on earth but its own “hour.” –Romano Guardini ‘The Lord’



A contemplative consideration

Let us put it this way: what is it that actually has power over us? What rules me? People, mainly. Those who speak to me, whose words I read; those with whom I associate or would like to associate; the people who give or withhold, who help or hinder me; people I love or influence or to whom I am bound by duty—these rule in me. God counts only when people permit him to, when they and their demands leave time for him. God rules only in spite of people; when under their influence I am not too strongly tempted to feel that he does not exist at all. He reigns only inasmuch as consciousness of his presence is able to force itself upon me, to coexist with the people in my life..Things also rule in me: things I desire, by the power of that desire; things that bother me, by their bothersomeness; things I encounter wherever I go, by the attraction they have for me or by the attention which they demand. Things in general, by their very existence, fill the spiritual ‘space’ both within and around me, not God. God is present in me only when the crowding, all-absorbing things of my world leave room for him—either in or through them, or somewhere on the periphery of their existence. No, God certainly does not dominate my life. Any tree in my path seems to have more power than he, if only because it forces me to walk around it! What would life be like if God did rule in me?

Then I would know—not by strenuous, conscious effort, but spontaneously, from the vitality of constant encounter: He is! His would be the one name, the one reality before all others. I would know him as I know the beauty and freshness of a meadow in full bloom, and I would be able to speak of him, as I speak of its richness, deeply conscious of what I meant. His essence would be as real and clear to me as that of a person I knew intimately and understood—to my good or harm: someone with a certain face, a familiar gait, whose mind and spiritual powers responded in a specific manner to my own. –Father Romano Guardini ‘The Lord’


Jesus born

Since the baptism, the abundance of the Spirit has streamed into him. Spirit is creative; it must find an outlet in word and act. It is eager to measure its strength. Now, in this interim, its direction yet undetermined, it simply streams, self-sufficient and brimming with endless possibility. –Romano Guardini ‘The Lord’


Third temptation

Once more forces collect for the assault—the mountain-peak view of the vast glory of the world, offering itself to him who is truly competent to rule! How the sensation of spiritual strength must swell the breast at Satan’s words! The will to power increased with the sense of exalted dignity and importance! Never was the costliness of earth more deeply felt than by Jesus’ greatest and most sensitive of hearts; sweet and potent, it must have hummed in his blood, calling up all his powers of creativeness and ownership. The greatness you feel in you, mighty one that you are, what are you going to do with it? Squander it on the paltriness of the poor or the stuffiness of the pious? On the mission of a wandering preacher? You were born to rule; the power and responsibility of a true sovereign await you! Tremendous temptation! The price, of course, is the falling away from God: “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” It is the showdown. Now comes the answer that puts an end to the combat: “Begone, Satan! for it is written, ‘The Lord thy God shalt thou worship and him only shalt thou serve.’ ” At that the devil left him, Luke adds, “for a while” (4:13).  – – Romano Guarding ‘The Lord’


Second temptation

Next Satan leads Jesus into the holy city. Suddenly he finds himself looking down from the pinnacle of the temple upon a swarm of people far below.

Again the voice: “If thou art the Son of God, throw thyself down”; mortal and immortal danger veiled in the pious words: “for it is written, ‘He will give his angels charge concerning thee; and upon their hands they shall bear thee up, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.’ ” The thrust is a sure one, touching the very spot that must prove fatal for anyone made uncertain by sin. That soaring spirit which long fasting seems to have made independent of gravity, that blurring of the borders between the possible and the impossible, fantastic desire for the extraordinary, and most powerful of all, the terrible lure of the abyss—who has not felt something of this when he stood on a great natural height or at the top of a high building? Shall I try it? The atmosphere might bear me! Or even the fatal attraction of the fall itself, cloaked in the reference to the charge given the angels! Delusion enough for anyone not sharply on his guard. But Jesus is—and more. Again the temptation glances off: “It is written further, ‘Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’ ” Likewise no mere parrying blow, but an answer straight from the core of the test.

–Father Romano Guardini ‘The Lord’