April 21, 2018

Gaudete et exsultate: The Real History of the World

Pope Francis exhorts us, with the help of Edith Stein:
Let us be spurred on by the signs of holiness that the Lord shows us through the humblest members of that people which “shares also in Christ’s prophetic office, spreading abroad a living witness to him, especially by means of a life of faith and charity”. We should consider the fact that, as Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross suggests, real history is made by so many of them. As she writes: “The greatest figures of prophecy and sanctity step forth out of the darkest night. But for the most part, the formative stream of the mystical life remains invisible. Certainly the most decisive turning points in world history are substantially co-determined by souls whom no history book ever mentions. And we will only find out about those souls to whom we owe the decisive turning points in our personal lives on the day when all that is hidden is revealed” (8)
This reminded me of something from Thomas Merton:
I wonder if there are twenty men alive in the world now who see things as they really are. That would mean that there were twenty men who were free, who were not dominated or even influenced by any attachment to any created thing or to their own selves or to any gift of God, even to the highest, the most supernaturally pure of His graces. I don't believe that there are twenty such men alive in the world. But there must be one or two. They are the ones who are holding everything together and keeping the universe from falling apart. (from "Detachment" in New Seeds of Contemplation)
One of the gifts of priesthood for me has been the opportunity to meet, usually in confession, some of these hidden saints. It is they, not the robbers writ large that one sees each day in the news, who are the protagonists of the true history of the world, which is the creation's pilgrimage toward full transfiguration in the Risen Christ.

April 20, 2018

Gaudete et exsultate: Community

I took some time to read Gaudete et exsultate. Anything I would say about it generally has already been posted here and there, so there's no need for me to repeat it. I do have some personal reflections to share, however, on this exhortation to holiness. This is the first.
In salvation history, the Lord saved one people. We are never completely ourselves unless we belong to a people. That is why no one is saved alone, as an isolated individual. Rather, God draws us to himself, taking into account the complex fabric of interpersonal relationships present in a human community. God wanted to enter into the life and history of a people. (6)
In religious life it's a commonplace to say that the reasons you entered are not the same reasons you have stayed. In the same way, what you anticipated as being the greatest challenges don't turn out to be the things you struggle with the most. Conversely, what seemed like an easy thing when you first professed can become a great struggle. I am sure that those who are married or in any other sort of particular vocation have analogous experiences.

When I made my religious profession, I had not thought much about the line, Therefore, I entrust myself with all my heart to this brotherhood. As time has gone on, however, I realize that this is one of the most challenging aspects of the whole business.