Christ: Victor for All Creation

I originally contributed this to our church’s electronic newsletter. In case you’re interested, feel free to peruse the web site and visit the e-news archives: The Cavalletti quote seems to be such an appropriate piece for the Easter Season that I wanted to share it with you. Enjoy!

Sofia Cavalletti is an Italian Roman Catholic who was an internationally known Hebrew and biblical scholar for many years before her friend, Montessori educator Gianna Gobbi, asked her to consult with her regarding the spiritual formation of children. Dr. Cavalletti reluctantly agreed, initially believing there was not much she could offer children, nor much they could offer her. She soon found that she was mistaken. Children were capable of doing theology. They were capable of knowing God, in fact, in a way she had never experienced with adults. This is the story of how The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd was born.

Dr. Cavalletti and Gianna Gobbi began by working with young children, aged 3-6, but soon began working with older children as well. The focus of the content for older children emerged: the history of salvation. What a task to undertake! In 1966, Dr. Cavalletti published her essential work on this topic: History’s Golden Thread: The History of Salvation, a short book offering the reader a guide to reading the biblical text in light of God’s redemptive work in human history. In 1999, Rebekah Rojcewicz translated the original Italian work into English, thus offering the text to hundreds of catechists in the English-speaking world who sought a “primary source for working with older children on the history of salvation” (History’s Golden Thread, p. viii).

As an adult who works with children, I will tell you that History’s Golden Thread contains a wealth of content that informs our Children’s Ministries at All Souls. And yet, there is so much depth to this work that, if you didn’t read the Translator’s Note at the beginning, you would have no idea the book was translated to support children’s catechists. Even Cavalletti’s introductions to the first and second editions read like introductions to any major theological commentary. This first week of the Easter season, I offer you a short piece from the book on the meaning of the Resurrection. I commend the book to you for further reading.

A 6th century mosaic of Jesus at Church San Ap...
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The paschal mystery of Jesus carries an inherent demand for universality and therefore for unification. Thus, it is not without reason that the sign through which they are realized is the cross. It stretches its arms outward, to the east and to the west; it stretches upward, toward heaven and is anchored in the earth. Saint Paul observes how “God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.” (Colossians 1:20). Here Saint Paul presents the resurrection in its cosmic dimension: It is an event through which not only human beings are reconciled to God, but the entire universe is reconciled to the Father in Christ the man. Christ’s human body, which comes back to life, is mysteriously linked to all of nature; therefore, nature itself cannot avoid receiving from the resurrection a new, life-giving sap. We have already seen how at the birth of Jesus the natural elements were stirred by the presence of the child of Bethlehem. Now, at the resurrection, the fracture that Adam’s sin caused in humankind and between humankind and nature – which had been created for him and against which he rebelled – is healed. The original harmony is re-established in Christ in such a way that Saint John Chrysostom can say, “In him the heavens are risen, and the earth is risen; in him the world is risen” (PL 16:404).

The world would have remained fractured had the blood of Christ not erased the sin that caused a chasm at the center of the universe, between the higher and the lower creation, that is in humankind. Placed in this central position of the universe, Christ bore this rupture within himself during his earthly life, due to his existence in the flesh. Yet, with his death and resurrection, he himself abolished this conflict, and, in rising above all things, he himself reunited all things that were separated. All beings have in Christ their center of gravity and their point of convergence. “He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things” (Ephesians 4:10).

All this has occurred in Christ as the firstfruit of the new creation. We live in the time of waiting for the firstfruit to bear its full fruit – when “God will be all in all” (I Corinthians 15:28).

Hallelujah! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Hallelujah!

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