Friday, July 20, 2018

Seek the Lord!

Saint Athanasius closes his treatise on the Incarnation with these words of encouragement:

“But for the searching and right understanding of the Scriptures there is need of a good life and a pure soul, and for Christian virtue to guide the mind to grasp, so far as human nature can, the truth concerning God the Word. One cannot possibly understand the teaching of the saints unless one has a pure mind and is trying to imitate their life. Anyone who wants to look at sunlight naturally wipes his eye clear first, in order to make, at any rate, some approximation to the purity of that on which he looks; and a person wishing to see a city or country goes to the place in order to do so. Similarly, anyone who wishes to understand the mind of the sacred writers must first cleanse his own life, and approach the saints by copying their deeds. Thus united to them in the fellowship of life, he will both understand the things revealed to them by God and, thenceforth escaping the peril that threatens sinners in the judgment, will receive that which is laid up for the saints in the kingdom of heaven. Of that reward it is written: "Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared"  for them that live a godly life and love the God and Father in Christ Jesus our Lord, through Whom and with Whom be to the Father Himself, with the Son Himself, in the Holy Spirit, honor and might and glory to ages of ages. Amen.”

I wonder sometimes just how far out of touch we are in refusing to link genuine understanding to discipleship and thereby meant an all out quest for sanctity of life, such that we can get into the heads and hearts of the saints, the sacred authors. What sense could talk of a paradigm shift possibly have when my goal is or must be to put on the mind of Christ?

The thought of those sad “Enlightenment” monks comes to me, who for the sake of learning, research, science (take your pick) would renounce the monastic rule and the watchfulness which characterized their commitment to choir and for what, but for such a pittance. Psalm 130, the sixth Penitential Psalm 130 (De Profundis):

“5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; 6 my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning. 7 O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem. 8 It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.”

“Ye watchers and ye holy ones” the old Easter hymn. Pray tell me, what does a paradigm shift have to do with a change of heart?


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