Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Savior on Spilled Blood

THIS SPLENDID AND FANCIFUL CHURCH in St. Petersburg, Russia  goes by several names: The Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ but also The Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood. Completed in 1907, more a museum than an active church, it commemorates the 1881 assassination of Czar Alexander II. The Soviet government closed the church in the 1930's using it as a morgue during the Second World War and the Siege of Leningrad. Still later it was used as a warehouse for vegetables. After a twenty seven year period of restoration the building was re-opened to the public in 2007.

Spiritual genius seems to have designed and built the church while insanity ransacked and closed it. But the world needs this place with the curious name. Indeed, every major city might have a Church on Spilled Blood - not to commemorate a murdered czar or political figure but to call our attention to the blood that is spilled in just about every place on the planet by abortion, genocide, drug-related violence, murders, terrorist blood-letting, internecine wars, bloody revolts, slaughtering attacks and executions.

The Christian can't be simply a nice guy, a law-abider or a good neighbor. A Christian is to feel to his/her very depths what it is to profess and live fidelity to Jesus Christ. Acknowledging our divided nature, and the beckoning of other loyalties, Pope Pius XII said: "Never make a man choose between his Church and his country. He will almost always choose his country."

Seventy years or so later, I would frame it this way, "Never make a person choose between Christ and other loyalties. They will almost always choose the other loyalties."

There are loyalties to political party, firm or corporation, to the media guru or talk show hosts, the loyalties of ideology, our national obsession with fun, sport and entertainment, sensual beauty and physicality.

Blood-spiller rage? At any summer gathering bring up even one of these topics: Catholicism, Catholic priests, homosexual marriage, "gay agenda", abortion, Mexican children fleeing to America's borders, Barack, Michelle, Benghazi, Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman, prison reform. There's a blood-spiller in each human person.

And then there's the blood-spiller-rage that surfaces over our our having been abandoned, dismissed, fired, given away, abused, not consulted, unrewarded, over-looked, trapped, underpaid, betrayed, left disappointed, denied...

The message of the wondrous and luminous church might be, we've got to get the rage out of us. Notice the church's first title is Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ. The peace of God in the Easter Jesus!.

That today is Sunday won't prevent blood-spilling. But that shouldn't stop us from contemplating the wisdom and vision of Jesus:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be known as the children of God.
But I say to you; love your enemy,
    do good to those who hate you,
    bless those who curse you,
    pray for those who abuse you.
To those who strike you on the cheek, offer the other also.
And from those who take away your cloak, do not withhold your coat as well.
Give to everyone who begs from you;
And, to those who take away your goods, do not ask for their return.
And as you wish that others would do unto you, do so unto them as well.


  1. You speak with wisdom on the flaws of human nature. Calling to mind the ways we spill the blood of rage. We can all find something here that rings true in our own selves.

  2. Based on human history, everyone can reasonably conclude that the business of peacemaking has generally been an abject failure, though interspersed with some moderate, brief successes in bringing the worst of the hostilities to a halt for a while. This does not detract from the beatitude, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Matthew 5:9), because Jesus states this from God's perspective. Tragically, the world has usually reserved its highest honors for the war-makers. But if God says peacemakers are blessed, who can truthfully argue against His conclusion? So yes, let us contemplate the wisdom of Jesus.

  3. The highest honors for war-makers and always money available for war.

    1. Sometimes we do not understand how competitive human nature is. It is proud. It feels it has to win, be vindicated, and if possible, elevated over others. These attitudes do not make peace. Rather than pursuing the things that cause contention, we should pursue the things that bring peace. Promoting peace is a Christian's responsibility.

    2. Remember the little song from the 70's "Let there be peace on earth...and let it begin with me." ME. Not the Oval Office, not the United Nations, not Camp David...ME. We've got to get the rage out of us.

  4. Peace might have to begin in all of us but how are we to turn our cheek or pray for our abusers. In theory these things sound noble and good, but on the contrary. if one has been severely abused by another, how can someone brings themselves to pray for that person. The depth of one's emotional trauma may prohibit such a prayer. Is in not enough to pray for such a soul to be released from eternal damnation? I would much rather think of saving anyone else on earth than the soul of someone who chooses to abuse the innocent or unsuspecting.

  5. Jesus' teaching isn't a theory. And Jesus never asks any thing of us that he himself does not do. The first words out of his mouth on the cross are: "Father Forgive." Forgiving is the hardest part of being a Christian. I have my own young teen abuse story to tell. The years of healing are long. It is possible to pray to forgive. Many achieve it. There were Jews who sought out their Nazi camp captors and forgave them. John Paul II forgave his would be assassin. The brothers of Taize forgave the woman who murdered their founder, Brother Roger. I"m not saying it's easy by any means - but it is clear that Jesus at least expects us to keep at it. This isn't an easy religion.