I meant to post this on Sunday, and I know that Monday is now almost over, but better late than never! I subscribe to their email list, and received this in my inbox on Palm Sunday. :) I pray it offers you some food for thought and meditation, as we enter the second day of Holy Week.
In ‘The Cross of Christ the Measure of the World’ (1841) Newman argues that this world can only be truly understood in the light of the cross of Christ, for we must experience the sufferings of this world before we can understand ourselves, our weakness and sin, and so realise our eternal destiny. So is this world somehow bad, and not to be enjoyed? No, says Newman, but: ‘they alone can truly feast, who have first fasted’.
And thus, too, all that is bright and beautiful, even on the surface of this world, though it has no substance, and may not suitably be enjoyed for its own sake, yet is a figure and promise of that true joy which issues out of the Atonement [for our sins which Christ worked on the cross]. It is a promise beforehand of what is to be: it is a shadow, raising hope because the substance is to follow, but not to be rashly taken instead of the substance. And it is God’s usual mode of dealing with us, in mercy to send the shadow before the substance, that we may take comfort in what is to be, before it comes. Thus our Lord before His Passion rode into Jerusalem in triumph, with the multitudes crying Hosanna, and strewing His road with palm branches and their garments. This was but a vain and hollow pageant, nor did our Lord take pleasure in it. It was a shadow which stayed not, but flitted away. It could not be more than a shadow, for the Passion had not been undergone by which His true triumph was wrought out. He could not enter into His glory before He had first suffered. He could not take pleasure in this semblance of it, knowing that it was unreal. Yet that first shadowy triumph was the omen and presage of the true victory to come, when He had overcome the sharpness of death. And we commemorate this figurative triumph on the last Sunday in Lent, to cheer us in the sorrow of the week that follows, and to remind us of the true joy which comes with Easter-Day.
And so, too, as regards this world, with all its enjoyments, yet disappointments. Let us not trust it; let us not give our hearts to it; let us not begin with it. Let us begin with faith; let us begin with Christ; let us begin with His Cross and the humiliation to which it leads. Let us first be drawn to Him who is lifted up, that so He may, with Himself, freely give us all things. Let us “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” and then all those things of this world “will be added to us.” They alone are able truly to enjoy this world, who begin with the world unseen. They alone enjoy it, who have first abstained from it. They alone can truly feast, who have first fasted; they alone are able to use the world, who have learned not to abuse it; they alone inherit it, who take it as a shadow of the world to come, and who for that world to come relinquish it.
(Reference: John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons Vol 6 (1842) Sermon no. 7, p. 92-3)
***My thoughts - Yes, a shadow of the world to come. But then, so are we also shadows of who we really are. We will not become fully and completely ourselves, fully alive, until we pass through death, a second birth. All Creation groans for redemption; it will not be "destroyed" in the Apocalyptic imagery (exploited and exaggerated and woefully misunderstood) that is so known to us (and despised by me), I think it is more proper and orthodox to believe that Creation will be renewed and redeemed. What is false will pass away; what is true shall not pass away, but be made perfect. "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen."