Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I seem to be incapable of putting an independent thought into writing lately. I have much rumbling around my heart and brain, but no outflow at the moment. When all else fails, quote someone else...

More from Von Balthasar's Prayer:

[God's] love is no mere diffused, all-pervading medium, dissolving everything in vague sentiment; on the contrary, it becomes present in the exact features of one very particular, historical Person [Jesus Christ]...it attains visibility in his very precise words, actions, sufferings and miracles. So all the world's inchoate love which feels its way toward God must allow itself to be transformed and integrated into the drama of this one, particular Person, in order, through him, to "enter heaven itself" (Heb. 9:24) (p. 57)

Of course, this would be impossible if Christ were a mere man: however perfect, he would always be simply one of us and nothing more. But since he is both the Son and the Word of God, he has the power to integrate us into himself as his "members", to integrate our finite persons - without destroying or endangering them in the slightest - into the life of his infinite Person. It follows that being "in" the Son as a member of his mystical body is much more than being granted access to God on the basis of any "merit", however infinite. It is this very access..." (p. 58)

The question "How can we hear God's word?" is answered thus: we can, because we are in the Word. Because the Word who became flesh takes us into himself giving his own self as our mode of existence. Grace has not imparted some general, vague, "supernatural elevation" to us, but a participation in the personal existence of the eternal Word of God, who became "flesh" like us so that we should become "spirit" in him, and who therefore "is able to help" us toward our "heavenly call", since he was "made like his brethren in every respect" (Heb 2:17 - 3:1) The grace which the Father gives us is christoform: it assimilates us to the Son without violating us as human beings - for the Son himself became a human being. (p. 58)

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Chew on this...

A bit of what I've been reading lately:

Hans Urs Von Balthasar, Prayer:
"In the life of the Church, contemplation is surrounded by an atmosphere of despondency and pusillanimity. We would like to pray, but we cannot manage it. Our time of prayer passes leaving us distracted, and since it does not seem to yield any tangible fruit, we are not loath to give it up. From time to time we take up a book of "meditations" which presents us, ready-made, with the contemplation we ought to produce for ourselves. We observe someone else eating, but it does nothing to fill our stomachs. We may have read his "meditations", but what we have done is spiritual reading - not contemplation. We have seen how someone else had encountered the word of God, we have even profited by his encounter, but all the same it was his and not ours - and we ourselves have achieved nothing. Often becuase we are too comfortable, which is something that can be overcome. And often out of a fearfulness which robs us of the confidence to take steps on our own." (p. 7)

Thomas Dubay, Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer

Normal people would tend to suppose that if a person basically loves God, is living in the state of grace and is therefore free from a serious alienation from God, his Origin and Destiny, he would be strongly committed to avoiding small offenses against this most magnificent of all loves. But the rude fact is that such consistency in the human race is rather rare." (p. 47)

There is a great gap for most people between prayer and performance. At our devotions we can say sublime things about loving God with our whole heart, and then ten minutes later divide that heart with selfish overeating - or any one of a dozen other petty clingings. (p. 49)

The gospel definition of love goes something like this: a self-sacrificing, willed concern for and giving to another, even if attraction and feeling are diminished or absent, and even if little or nothing is received in return - and all with divine motivation. (p. 68)

The gospel is not simply an improvement on secular-minded ethics. It is a revolution. (p. 69)

This new love is immersed in a prior love for God from whom all lovableness in creation and in persons flows. This is why when we love our neighbor as we ought we are loving God himself. He is always endlessly lovable even when the neighbor is ugly, hurtful, or an enemy. (p. 69)

We are born into this world utterly self-centered, and it is only after long struggling that some of us manage to get rid of it, partially or wholly. (p. 79)

When Saint Paul addresses the members of the early Church in Rome, he calls them "God's beloved" (Rom. 1:7). Since we are to love one another as the Lord loves us (Jn. 13:34-35), we conclude that other people are to be our beloved - in the most genuine sense of the word! (p. 87)

How does it happen that people who have given up deadly sins and basically do love God at least in some minimal way can yet continue to cling to petty selfishnesses even if only in three or four areas? Why do they cling especially in matters that concern interpersonal relations and the pleasures of a comfortable lifestyle?...I should like to think that this type of person usually does not positively decide "I do not intend to improve...I want my mediocrity...I don't want to get better."...but the fact remains that frequently in these people willed and habitual venial sins continue on in their lives. (p. 91)

"With divine aid, always offered but never forced, we can and should aspire to saintlinesss. This aspiration is called the virtue of magnanimity: aiming at doing great things for God and for those he loves so much - which means for everyone. (p. 92)

God pays us the compliment of calling us to live that life fully, perfectly, to be transformed from one glory to another (Mt. 5:48; 2 Cor. 3:18). We are meant to be filled with the utter fullness of endless Beauty...(Eph 3:19; 1 Cor 2:9) Willingly to be lagging on the way, knowingly to snuff out sparks of grace is an enormous reason for concern. (p. 93)

If husbands and wives really love each other and their children, the best and most effective proof that their love is not mere words is to get rid of their major and minor selfishnesses and to deepen their prayer lives...Outsiders can do us harm, but far greater damage is usually brought about by spouses who refuse to get rid of their sins. (p. 98, 99)

...humility offers practical know-how in solving wisely the thousands of nitty-gritty problems that come up in anyone's life, and espeically in one who is trying to avoid even small selfishnesses. (p. 100)

Psalm 45
You are fairer than the sons of men; Grace is poured upon Your lips; Therefore God has blessed You forever.
Gird Your sword on Your thigh, O Mighty One, In Your splendor and Your majesty! And in Your majesty ride on victoriously, For the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
Let Your right hand teach You awesome things. Your arrows are sharp; The peoples fall under You; Your arrows are in the heart of the King's enemies.
Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of joy above Your fellows. (v. 2-7)
Listen, O daughter, give attention and incline your ear: Forget your people and your father's house; Then the King will desire your beauty. Because He is your Lord, bow down to Him. (v. 10-11)

Matthew 4
...Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And AFTER He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He THEN became hungry. (4:1-2, emphasis mine)

Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. (4:4)

Matthew 5, 6, 7