The Path of Life

The Path of Life

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Life, death, and eternity

"Yearn for everlasting life with holy desire.
Day by day remind yourself that you are going to die."

Rule of St. Benedict 4:46-47

Lent is a reminder that the world as we know it is not the be-all and end-all. Something—or, more precisely, Someone—infinitely better awaits us. The joy of this knowledge, derived through faith, fills us with that holy desire needed to live radically here and now.

This is the hope that fills our days with joy without denying our deep sorrow. It is what makes us Christian. When things go terribly wrong, when failure and hardship seem to frame our days, and when people age and die, what we are really lamenting is the brokenness of Creation. We should feel sorrow, because the life for which God created us was not meant to be that way. However, we should also embrace the joy of knowing that in Christ, God has restored all things, and rightly ordered them as they are meant to be.

It is true that from our limited perspective, we cannot fully perceive that right-ordering. In Christ, however, the act has been completed, but is still growing to fulfillment. Similarly, when we plant a flower bulb in the earth during the lengthening shadows of autumn, we know that it will be months before it springs forth from the ground with life and color and fragrance—but its work has begun. The Incarnation continues to this very moment as the Body of Christ grows to maturity in each one of us. The moment has been redeemed, and eternity calls out to us from the dark moments just before the dawn.

As Christians, it is fitting us--particularly during this Lenten season--to meditate on such things. With that in mind, here are some further thoughts on life, death, and eternity:

"Why should I worry about losing a bodily life that I must inevitably lose anyway, as long as I possess a spiritual life and identity that cannot be lost against my own desire? ... Solitude is not death, it is life. It aims not at living death but at a certain fullness of life. But a fullness that comes from honestly and authentically facing death and accepting it without care, i.e., with faith and trust in God. ... The child in the womb does not know what will come after birth. He must be born in order to live. I am here [in the monastery] to learn to face death as my birth."
-- Trappist monk Thomas Merton
"What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? ... No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
-- Romans 8:35, 37-39
"Let us prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life."
-- Rule of St. Benedict 72:11-12

No comments:

Post a Comment