Father Romano Guardini


I am overwhelmed by Father Romano Guardini’s presentation of Jesus being tempted. I thought of Advent as a time of absence in a way, a waiting for the arrival of Jesus, yet I am finding myself absorbed in the life of Jesus through the writing of Father Guardini. I am going to post the three temptations on consecutive days, allowing the immensity of the words to linger. The first temptation centers on the rejection of the supernatural, while embracing the natural through simplicity and honesty conforming to the will of God–the creating of a true reality through proper spiritual exercise, including the reality of satanic influence during the process.

Filled with the Spirit, Jesus goes into the wilderness, swept along by an immeasurable consciousness of mission and of strength. He fasts. What real fasting means—not the going without food imposed by necessity, but spontaneous self- denial….At first only the lack of nourishment is felt; then, according to the strength and purity of the individual nature, the desire for food vanishes, not to return for several days. When the body receives no nourishment from without, it lives on its own substance; however, as soon as this self-calorification begins to attack the vital organs, a wild, elementary hunger is aroused, and life itself is threatened. Such was the hunger of Jesus in the wilderness.

Simultaneously, another, a psychic process takes place: the body becomes more supple, the spirit freer. Everything seems to grow lighter, detached. The burden of gravity itself grows less perceptible. The limits of reality begin to withdraw; the field of the possible to widen as the spirit takes things in hand. The enlightened conscience registers with greater sensitivity and power, and the will becomes increasingly decisive. The protective mechanisms of human nature which shield man from the hidden, threatening realms of existence beneath, above, and beyond him begin to fall away. The soul stands stripped, open to all forces. Consciousness of spiritual power increases, and the danger of overstepping the set limits of human existence, of confusing its dignity and its possibilities, grows acute: danger of presumption and magic, general vertigo of the spirit. When a deeply religious person undergoes these processes his soul can become involved in crises of extreme gravity and danger. In just such a moment came the temptation by him who recognized in Jesus his greatest enemy.

How that temptation is expressed—oh, the dubiety, the provocativeness of the very first words! “If thou art the Son of God,” we are reminded of the temptation that so successfully confused humanity s original progenitors: “Why hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree of paradise?” (Gen. 3:1). “Of every tree”—hellish obscurity poisoning the simplicity of obedience and trust, twilight that fakes everything, worse than the definite lie. Here it is essentially the same thing, only much more dangerous for the soul apex of human spirituality.

“If thou are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” Hunger is aroused; the sensation of miraculous power and the consciousness of divine sonship are questioned and accordingly enlivened. Greed is tempted to break its bonds and abuse the miraculous powers meant only for the needs of the divine mission. Everything is lured away from the pure service of the paternal will into the wilderness of confusion. But what happens? Greed is not aroused—not even its opposite, violent suppression of greed. With the complete composure of one entirely free, Jesus answers: “It is written, ‘Not by bread alone does man live. Man does live by bread, and it is good that he does, but not only by earthly bread. Even more vital is the bread “that comes forth from the mouth of God.” For this bread above all should he hunger. Confronted by such freedom, the blow can only glance off powerless.


Advent commencing

Made concrete: Baptism
A birth, a new beginning within a start,
Drenched with waters descending,
The restoring intuition of goodness manifesting,
Quiet within the humility of cleansing,
Past, present, and future uniting,

Jesus’ every act is governed by the Father; hence the Spirit (through which the Lord was conceived and made man) is always with him, for it is the bond of love uniting Father and Son. Yet we read that the Holy Spirit “comes” over Jesus, just as one day, sent forth from the Father, it will come over all whom Jesus calls his own. The intellect cannot cope with such paradoxes, though it somehow senses the reality beyond all reality, the truth beyond all truth. Precisely here lies the danger. The mind must never allow itself to be misled into seeming ‘comprehension,’ into facile sensations or phrases with nothing solid behind them. The whole problem is a mystery, the sacred mystery of the relationship of the triune God to his incarnate Son. We can never penetrate it, and knowledge of this incapacity must dominate our every thought and statement concerning Jesus’ life.  –Romano Guardini ‘The Lord’



Mary’s secret

Romano Guardini ‘The Lord’

Everything that affected Jesus affected his mother, yet no intimate understanding existed between them. His life was hers, yet constantly escaped her. Scripture puts it clearly: he is “the Holy One” promised by the angel, a title full of the mystery and remoteness of God. Mary gave that holy burden everything: heart, honor, flesh and blood, all the wonderful strength of her love. In the beginning, she had contained it, but soon it outgrew her, mounting steadily higher and higher to the world of the divine beyond her reach.

Here Jesus had lived, far removed from Mary. Certainly, Mary did not comprehend the ultimate. How could she, a mortal, fathom the mystery of the living God! But she was capable of something which on earth is more than understanding, something possible only through that same divine power which, when the hour has come, grants understanding: FAITH. She believed, and at a time when in the fullest sense of the word probably no one believed. “And blessed is she who has believed…” If anything voices Mary’s greatness, it is this cry of her cousin Elizabeth.

Mary believed blindly. Again and again she had to confirm that belief, and each time with more difficulty…For years she had to combat an only too natural confusion. Who was this “Holy One” whom she, a mere girl, had borne? This “great” one she had suckled and known in all his helplessness? Later she had to struggle against the pain of seeing him steadily outgrow her love, even purposely flee it to that realm of ineffable remoteness which she could not enter. Not only did she have to accept this, but to rejoice in it as in the fulfillment of God’s will. Not understanding, never was she to lose heart, never to fall behind. Inwardly she accompanied the incomprehensible figure of her son every step of his journey, however dark. Perseverance in faith even on Calvary—this was Mary’s inimitable greatness.



Advent reflection

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God;

God is being described. With him is someone else, someone called “the Word”; he is the expression of the meaning and fullness of God, the First Person, Speaker of the Word. This Second Person is also God, “was God,” yet there is only one God. Further, the Second Person “came” into his own: into the world which he had created. Let us consider carefully what this means: the everlasting, infinite Creator not only reigns over or in the world but, at a specific “moment,” crossed an unimaginable borderline and personally entered into history—he, the inaccessibly remote one!  –Romano Guardini ‘The Lord’



Still waters run deep

Romano Guardini ‘The Lord’


The Christmas liturgy includes these beautiful verses from…the Book of Wisdom: “For while all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, thy almighty word leapt down from heaven from thy royal throne”. The passage, brimming with the mystery of the Incarnation, is wonderfully expressive of the infinite stillness that hovered over Christ’s birth. For the greatest things are accomplished in silence—not in the clamor and display of superficial eventfulness, but in the deep clarity of inner vision; in the almost imperceptible start of decision, in quiet overcoming and hidden sacrifice. Spiritual conception happens when the heart is quickened by love, and the free will stirs to action. The silent forces are the strong forces. Let us turn now to the stillest event of all, stillest because it came from the remoteness beyond the noise of any possible intrusion—from God.

Luke reports:

“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, … and when the angel had come to her, he said, ‘Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women.’ When she had heard him she was troubled at his word, and kept pondering what manner of greeting this might be. “And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he shall be king over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall have no end.’

“But Mary said to the angel, ‘How shall this happen, since I do not know man?’

“And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee; and therefore the Holy One to be born shall be called the Son of God.’

“But Mary said, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.’ And the angel departed from her.

How quietly everything occurred….