mercredi, février 06, 2008

Sermon for Quinquagesima Sunday

Our reflection of last week, on the way to receive the word of God, led us to evoke the four rungs of the spiritual ladder according to the monastic tradition. The ascension of our souls toward the spiritual heights begins with the first one, which is reading.
Before we go further let us first be precise, that even though what we say now, has been mainly written by the monks and for the monks, it is not exclusively for them. It would be a regrettable error to think that contemplation would be only for those who have left the world in order to follow Jesus Christ in the seclusion of the monasteries, while for the great majority of the faithful who live in the world, holiness would be attained only by the completion of acts according to each one’s state of life. We can easily find some pretexts for not consecrating some time to spiritual exercises because of so many activities that we must do when we live in the world. But holiness is not the result of actions that can make us holy; it is first a state and this state is the same for everybody, monks, hermits, priests, fathers or mothers of families, men or women, adults or children. This state is given by God. Just think about a little baby who has received Baptism. He is holy, and yet he has done nothing. This shows that holiness might be more a matter of passion, in the philosophical meaning, than of action. Passion is the state of being moved or a qualitative modification of the subject. Passion happens when God acts directly in a subject which remains inactive.

For us, it does not mean that we have to be totally inactive. We have to act, according to our nature and our own states of life, but our actions are not the direct cause of holiness. They are rather a collaboration of the work of God in us. They derive from the grace and the supernatural virtues infused in us by God and are a means to increase the sanctifying grace, but they are not its cause. Faith without works is vain – Saint Paul recalls this in today’s epistle, but works without faith are also useless regarding eternal life. And eternal life is the knowledge and the love of the Most Holy Trinity that the elect contemplate in heaven. It is already anticipated in our present condition for those who are in the state of grace.
The life of a Christian consists in living in the grace of God by knowing and loving Him. But we do not see Him. We do not hear Him, at least with the ears of the body. For this reason the knowledge and the love of God requires certain effort on our part. We have to leave this world in spirit and raise our minds and our hearts – Sursum corda – toward God and the invisible realities that we don’t see.
Reading is the first step. Its main object is the Holy Scripture. In this sacred book, God speaks to men and reveals Himself. It is a story of passion and love; the passion and the love of God for men. From the Holy Scripture we can learn who God is, what He does for us and what He wants us to do or not to do. It is the teaching of a Father for His children, the testament that He bestows to them. Among all the inspired books, the four gospels certainly have the place of honor. Here, we can read about the most extraordinary acts of God. The mysteries of the Incarnation and the Redemption are revealed. We can follow our loving Savior from the day of His miraculous Conception in the womb of Mary to the glorious day of his return to the right hand of the Father. The Holy Scripture, as one of the two sources of Revelation, tells us what to do and what to believe.
Now, let me ask you a question. How many times a day do you open your Bible to read it? Should I ask, how many times a week or how many times a month that you read it? I do not even dare to ask since I cannot imagine that you don’t read the Scripture every day, but just in case, let me suggest this: Lent is coming up soon. Among your resolutions, why don’t you take this one: Reading the Bible every day. It would be a propitious time to hear God and it will help you to listen to Him. The Bible is rich and deep, and sometime mysterious. You will realize then that reading is insufficient. You will have the desire to go beyond the words in order to meet the Word. You will need to know more about God. It will be the time to climb on the second rung of the ladder, which is meditation.
With the help of God we will speak about meditation next Sunday. May Our Blessed Mother help us already to climb the first rung! May she give us the love and the desire of the Holy Scripture so that we can nourish our souls with these salutary words!

2 commentaires:

Easter Almuena a dit…

Fr. Demets, thank you! I got your blogsite on my sidebar: A Tribute to Our Priests.

Ingrida Krikštaponytė a dit…

Oui, c’est bon de lire l’Ecriture. Mais pour cela on doit avoir des bons commentaires. Parce que sans commentaires on ne comprend pas certaines choses ou bien, on risque même d’errer, tomber dans une hérésie.
Chez nous, on cite souvent la Bible pour argumenter les avis anticatholiques.