NOTE: We've had some beautiful fall weather here lately, and this afternoon I took advantage of it by taking a little walk with my camera to put some little frames around the changing of the seasons. Posted here are a few perspectives, along with some prose suitable for the season by the abbot of Conception Abbey in Missouri.
The single goal in life for the Christian is to become like Christ. Our experiences of death to self and of bodily death find special meaning in a passage from St. Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians. There St. Paul writes, "All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit: (2Corinthians 3:18).
When he writes of "glory," St. Paul refers to the paschal mystery of Jesus into which we are all incorporated--that is how our own life, suffering, and death are now sharing in the resurrection of Jesus. But for St. Paul, our glory includes not only the promise of resurrection, but all the experiences of our life that are united to Jesus' own life, suffering, and death.
There is a little "sacrament" in nature that reminds us that our death to self is beautiful in the eyes of God. In the autumn of the year, the leaves that are turning brilliant yellow, bright orange, and deep red are actually in the process of dying. Their colors are deepest, brightest, and most brilliant as they are "in the process" of their death.
That is also true for us. Our lives mirrror the beauty of God's plan for us as we die to self, and as we prepare to enter the eternal life for which we were created.
The whole process is the paschal mystery--new life through death!
-- Rt. Rev. Gregory Polan
Abbot, Conception Abbey, Missouri
also a chapter in Sacred Rhythms: The Monastic Way Every Day