dimanche, février 24, 2008

The top of the ladder

Sermon for the third Sunday in Lent





We finish today our ascension of our spiritual ladder by reaching the fourth and last rung which is contemplation. I should say: we finish speaking about our spiritual ascension, because we still have to put this theory into practice, and this is the work of our life. A Carthusian monk, Guy, has described the ladder in a letter, known as Scala Claustrarium. He said that by this ladder, we are raised from earth to heaven. Since heaven is our goal and because we already know that we will not remain on earth forever, we should consider what this ladder is in order to use it.
Guy explained that it has only a few separate rungs, yet its length is immense and incredible, for its lower parts stands on the earth while its higher parts pierces the clouds and touches the secret of heaven. I hope these words are sufficient in order to awaken and to galvanize our curiosity. I do not speak about the curiosity that pushes us to look at our neighbor in order to see what is wrong with him or about the one which makes us desire to be the first to know the latest rumor. For this one, you just have to turn on your computer and you will find it quickly. It might satiate your desire to know, but probably will not give you the satisfaction to be the best. After all, we cannot have everything.
No, I speak about a good – should I say holy? – curiosity which is the desire to know more about the things of God. What is heaven? How is it in heaven? What will I do when I get there? I will see all the saints I pray to now, I will see my guardian angel and all the beautiful spirits of lights who compose the guard of honor of God. And I will see God Himself, face to face! I hope, and I pray that the thoughts of heaven are in your mind, because if it is not the case, I wonder how you can arrive in heaven. We are so rooted to the earth and so attached to the perishable good that it is difficult to raise our minds and our hearts toward the imperishable and uncreated Good. It is difficult, but we have precisely a means to do this, and this means is the spiritual ladder that we have been talking about for the past few weeks.
Let us see again with Guy the Carthusian what the rungs are which compose it. The first one is reading. It is a careful study of Scripture with the soul’s attention. Then, meditation is studious action of the mind to investigate hidden truth, led by one’s own reason. It engenders prayers which is the heart’s devoted attending to God, so that evil may be removed and good may be obtained. This last point is extremely important, because it is about conversion. We are not converted to God unless we renounce evil. The epistle of today is particularly clear on this point: no fornicator or unclean or covetous person (which is a serving of idols) hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Lent, which is a time of conversion, gives us a good opportunity to think about our lives and to make good resolutions in order to convert to God. A good resolution is an effective one, followed by actions, otherwise it is just a vain dream and dreams cannot provide salvation and happiness. A good resolution might be to begin to climb the spiritual ladder if you are still on the ground. In this case, put a foot on the first rung. Take sufficient time every day to open the Scriptures or any other good spiritual book. If you have already begun your ascent, then continue with perseverance. There is still place for progress; true progress is an increasing in the knowledge and the love of God. I hope you are men of progress.
Now, let us go to our last rung, which is contemplation. It is almost heaven, and as such, it is reserved for those who have made the necessary efforts to reach it. We are speaking now about contemplation. Guy says that it is the mind suspended – somehow elevated above itself – in God so that it tastes the joys of everlasting sweetness. How beautiful it is! Our mind is suspended in God and already tastes the joys of heaven. This is the reason why the saints are happy. They already taste the joy of heaven, even though they have heavy crosses to carry.
Now, since I have said this, you all will certainly desire to reach the rung of contemplation, and I can only encourage you. But be sure that you will not reach it unless you go through the other rungs which are necessary steps. Don’t even think that you will go back to your home after mass and just start contemplation just like that. In fact, there is no recipe for contemplation. There is no method that you can use. Contemplation is an action of God in your soul, as a result and a kind of reward for your efforts and perseverance in your spiritual life. So at this point, the only thing I can tell you is: read, meditate and pray, then you will contemplate. Contemplation is given only to those who have removed evil from their souls. We can all do this, if we want and if we use the efficient means.
We can now summarize our last four sermons with these words of Guy. Lectio inquirit, meditatio invenit, oratio postulat, contemplatio degustat. – Reading seeks, meditation finds, prayers asks, contemplation tastes. The first degree pertains to beginners, the second to the proficient, the third to devotees, the fourth to the blessed. Whatever our state is in spiritual life, there is still place for progress.
May Our Blessed Mother encourage us and kindle our desire for heaven so that we can begin or ascent toward God and already anticipate in this present life the joys of eternal life, which is the knowledge of God.

6 commentaires:

Anonyme a dit…

Food! Food! Blessed Divine Nourishment:) How perfectly and concisely, and thoroughly put. Thank you as always for your Fiat! We are soooooooo blessed beyond words to have a holy warrior priest who leads us by his own example.
Oh this is Suzanna Bryant by the way, (so not to be rude ;);)

Father Demets a dit…

OK Suzanna Bryant by the way... Let me tell you something ! About holiness of priests - as for holiness of everyone else - only God knows, and in certain cases, the Church. So I accept the "warrior priest" part, but for the "holy" part, let God decide !

Anonyme a dit…

Yes, Abbe Sir . ;)
SEPB

Ingrida a dit…

“They already taste the joy of heaven, even though they have heavy crosses to carry.”
J’ai une question. Lorsque j’assiste à la Messe, je me sens très bien, cela me fait plaisir, cela me réjouit. Mais certaines personnes me disent que ce n’est pas bon, qu’il faut chaque fois méditer la Passion ici, il faut avoir les mêmes sentiments comme au Calvaire et c’est pourquoi la joie à la messe est le propre des modernistes. Qu’est-ce que vous en pensez?

Father Demets a dit…

Je dirais que l'un n'empeche pas l'autre. On peut mediter la Passion de Notre Seigneur pendant la messe tout en goutant une reelle paix interieure qui procure une vraie joie. Le meilleur exemple est Notre Seigneur lui meme qui bien qu'endurant des souffrances inouies jouissait d'un bonheur incomensurable du fait que son humanite jouissait de la Vision beatifique.
La vie chretienne est un etrange paradoxe de joie et de souffrance reunies. Nous garderons la premiere au Ciel tandis que la seconde disparaitra a tout jamais ( ce qui est exactement l'inverse en enfer )

Ingrida a dit…

Votre réponse est parfaite. Merci!