Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Holiness of life

Sanctification happens in the crucible of experience. St. Paul wrote that "the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:26-28 ESV).

St. Ephrem the Syrian, deacon and
church doctor

While the apostle goes on to talk about how those who are justified are predestined, here he clearly is talking about sanctification, becoming holy, being made holy. In baptism you were called according to God's purpose.There is no other way for us to become Christ-like than by facing our lives, the circumstances in which we daily find ourselves, reality. It is no good dreaming or acting as if it were otherwise. Reality has a way of imposing on us. Given this, how can we not pray?

In Morning Prayer today, a day on which falls the Memorial of St. Ephrem, in Syriac ܡܪܝ ܐܦܪܝܡ , ܣܘܪܝܝܐ, transliterated Mâr Aphrêm Sûryâyâ, deacon and doctor of the church, we pray:

Grant that we may progress today in love,
-and that all things may work together for our good and the good of all.

As St. Ephrem instructed On Prayer:

"See, brethren, what strength prayer has. There is no possession more precious than prayer in the whole of human life. Never be parted from it; never abandon it. But, as our Lord said, let us pray that out toil may not be for nothing, ‘When you stand in prayer, forgive if you have anything against anyone, that your heavenly Father may forgive you your faults’."

I like very much what Andrew, writing over on In Umbris Sancti Petri, reminds us about by quoting Don Giussani: "The idea of the Trinity is to say that the very nature of being is 'community'." As Owen Cummings, a teacher and mentor, taught me in no uncertain terms: "one person is no person." This takes me back to the beginning about holiness being accomplished through experience, which always includes others. Hence, becoming Christ-like, as the life of our Lord and the fact of the Trinity demonstrate, cannot be a solo endeavor, even Carthusians live in community.

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