lundi, février 16, 2009

Sermon for Sexagesima Sunday

Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us a parable: The sower went out to sow his seed. The seed is what bear life, but it is still in potentia – in potency or potentiality. It has to become in actu – in act. Potentia means a certain aptitude to change. It is being as it is capable of changing. The seed is a plant or a tree in potential, but it is not yet a plant. It has the possibility to become one. Maybe it will become one, or maybe not. Whether it will become a plant or not depends on certain conditions. When a sower sows a seed, it is an act of hope. He hopes that this seed will become a plant that that will yield fruits. If he had no hope at all, he would not sow.
The word of God is a seed of life. It bears the life of God. This word is proclaimed all over the world. God sows His word in every human soul, but it is still something fragile, in potentia. Saint Teresa of Avila compares a soul to an unproductive soil that Christ wants to turn into a beautiful garden. First the gardener has to remove the brambles and weeds. It is the first conversion, which is a renunciation of a life of sin. Saint John says in his first letter that whoever is born of God commits no sin for his seed abides in him. (1Jn 3,9) The seed of God cannot exist in a soul that has not yet renounce mortal sin. But at this point, the grace of God is still a little seed that can develop and grow or not. Renouncing sin is the first necessary step in order to make a beautiful garden, but there is still a lot of work to do. Once the gardener has removed the brambles and weeds, he can take care of the seed.




A seed needs water. It is our duty and our responsibility to water it so that it can grow. Saint Teresa says that there are four ways to water a garden: drawing water from a well, obtaining water by means of an aqueduct (or hose), letting water flow from a stream, and receiving natural rainfall. These are the four degrees of mental prayer.
In the first degree, the soul is active. This stage of prayer includes vocal prayer and discursive meditation. It is something good, especially for the beginners, but they should go further as Saint Teresa advices them not to spend all their time in doing so. Their method of prayer is most meritorious, but since they enjoy it so much, they sometimes fail to realize that they should have some kind of a sabbath, that is, a period of rest from their labors. . . . Let them imagine themselves, as I have suggested, in the presence of Christ, and let them continue conversing with him and delighting in him, without wearying their minds or exhausting themselves by composing speeches to him.
The second degree is when a soul begins to recollect itself, borders on the supernatural. This state is a recollecting of the faculties within the soul, so that its enjoyment of that contentment may provide greater delight.
The third degree is the stage of mystical prayer when all the faculties are centered on God. It is the sleep of the faculties, as Teresa says, which corresponds to a union of the entire soul with God.
And the last degree, that admits itself different degrees, is the prayer of union. It is infused by God and not attained by human efforts.
As the soul progress through these different degrees, it knows different conversions that bring it to a higher level of grace. The seed grows and yields more fruits. Father Garrigou-Lagrange has very well summarized this development of the grace of God in a soul in his book The three ages of the interior life that I recommend. As he explains, the interior life is a knowledge of truth and a love of good. In other words, it is the knowledge and the love of God. It is the life of God in us, given by the Divine grace.

This life develops in many areas, such as intellectual and scientific life because God is supremely intelligent. The artistic life is also concerned, because Christ Himself is the Art of the Father – Ars Patris – as the theologians of the Middle Age like to call Him. The literary life should not be forgotten, because our religion is the religion of the Incarnate Word. Thus, the words mean something to the Christians, as they express the reality of the things. And finally, social life has to be touched by the grace because there is a society in God which is also a communion between the Divine Persons. This is why Christianity does not affect only the souls but also the societies in all their dimensions, cultural, intellectual and artistic. If I work in the garden of my soul, it will become a beautiful yard. If my neighbors work too, it will be the whole neighborhood that will become beautiful. And then the city, and the county and the State will be embellished if here and there, Christians cultivate their garden. François-René de Chateaubriand has described in his famous book, The Genius of Christianity, how the Christian religion has contributed to the progress in arts and letters. You can also read the book of Thomas Wood: How the Catholic Church built Western Civilization.


(And other considerations that will remain only in the memories of my parishioners - at least, I hope so!)

3 commentaires:

capelinha a dit…

Hi,

I would like to pose you a question. Quotong from your text,

"This life develops in many areas, such as intellectual and scientific life because God is supremely intelligent."

I am a scientist and a catholic. I love to think and to use the intellect that God gave me. However, I feel guilty about this because I feel that the pleasure of thinking is an attachment that I must overcome. It seems, at first sight, that the intellectual activity is one of the noblest that man can have. However, if you love too much science, if you get too much involved in your mental puzzles, you get to the end of the day with a empty filling: you missed God while involved in your "noble" activity.
So, science or art may really represent an attachment to the world and an obstacle to to the entrance of God in your life.
Hence, sometimes I am feeling really happy with my scientific work and when I realize it, I start feeling guilty about that!
Lately, I try to work in the peace of Jesus. This means that I try to work having Him on my mind. I then enter on an infinite space where there are no stress or deadlines: just the pure joy of thinking about how things work, in the company of Jesus.
But am I fooling myself? Should I renounce to the joy of thinking? All the saints told us that we should dye to allow Christ re-born is us. This should include definitively renouncing to the joy of thinking. Or not?
Could you please give some advice?

Rui

jay a dit…

Dear friend,

The reason for writing this is to direct you to a special site for
prayers and devotions so badly needed for these end times. Remember
the wise words of st. Augustine: understanding is the reward of
faith, so seek not to understand so as to believe but to believe so as
to understand.

www.chapletoftearsofmysorrows.com
please do not mock.

Father Demets a dit…

Well, feeling joy is not sinful in itself. God has created us so that we can be happy with him and in heaven it will be an eternal joy. There is joy and even physical pleasures in many areas of our lives. The pleasure given by a good meal or a good wine, or the pleasure of the marital act for married persons are natural and good. Now it is true that the way of perfection supposes a certain renouncement to good things. It is what we do during Lent. But I would not recommand you to give up your intellectual activities, provided that you use your intellect for the quest and the service of the truth, that is God. And if you feel joy, give thanks to God. If one day you fill nothing, continue with gratitude. The imitation of Christ says that we should prefer the God of the consolations rather than the consolations of God.
Huge task !

In Christo Rege