Throughout the last two chapters I read, the figure of the eighteenth century saint Joseph Benedict Labre looms large. What I really admire about Robert Lax is the beautiful simplicity with which he lived his the latter portion of his life. He struggled for a long time to discern and then live out his vocation. Ironic as it may sound, in many ways his life was more monastic than was Pater Tom's. Ultimately, Lax very intentionally dedicated himself to peace and love, that is, to following Christ. He did so quietly and without a lot of "Look at me" piety that is so prevalent in this day of monetized faith.
I know, I know, how tiring to write he dedicated himself to peace and love. What a dismissive way to write about someone I am claiming to admire! But he really did this. Predictably, the results of his peaceful, loving life were not widespread. He certainly influenced those in his orbit in a powerful, yet quiet way. He lived for many years on the isle of Patmos in a small fishing village.
Since I've already used the phrase "peace and love," I might as well go the distance and say that Bob Lax was a prophet. By prophet I do not mean someone who was able to predict the future. At least in Biblical terms, this was never the role of the prophet. The role of the prophet is to call us back to fidelity to the God who is love, whose hesed (i.e., lovingkindness) is never-ending. The collected correspondence between Lax and Merton was given the title When Prophecy Still Had a Voice.
Rather than issue lofty proclamations and predictions of doom, to be a prophet in this age means to live prophetically. Living prophetically means to live like the reign of God is even now fully established, which means taking the actual, as opposed to the imagined and unjustly imputed, teaching of Jesus seriously, just as Lax did. To paraphrase Pope Paul VI as he expressed himself in the final major document promulgated during his pontificate, Evanglii Nuntiandi, his Apostolic Exhortation on evangelization, of which Pope Francis's Evangelii Gaudium serves as something of an update, to be a prophet today is to be a witness. Both Joseph Benedict Labre, whose prophetic calling strikes me as very post-modern, and Robert Lax are witnesses.
Quiet revolutions are usually the ones that have a lasting and positive effect. When I think about positive changes in my own life, the ones that have lasted are the ones I have made in the quietness of contemplation and just set about making without really broadcasting them. The ones I proclaim and vocally insist on seem to be the ones that fall by the wayside sooner rather than later.
I am not going to include any long extract from Pure Act. But I encourage you to check out this link.
So maybe there's a change you've been thinking about making. Perhaps you've been wondering how to go about making that change. I would encourage you, after properly discerning the need to make the change, to make a quiet resolution, something between you and God, and then begin making the change, resisting the temptation to tell everyone or maybe even to tell anyone about it. At the end of each day, as part of your daily Examen, reflect on how it went. Be gentle with yourself, especially if living the change didn't go well on a particular day. Ask for the grace to do better on the morrow and then resolve to do better. You can't make a meaningful change effortlessly, despite what hucksters tell you.
Instead of a song for this Sixth Friday of Easter, the day after Ascension Day in most parts of the world (throughout most of the Western U.S., where I live, we observe Ascension this Sunday), our traditio is one of Lax's poems: A Problem in Design. I think what this poem sets forth is nothing less than the esthetic of Lax's poetry. If Lax was a prophet, his oracles are his poems. He wrote in vertical style, which used a lot of space.
i think you should draw