Wednesday, January 9, 2013

In A World Unable to Bear It

If I am truly intent on living for God in the midst of the world, I can learn from the basic goals of monasticism.  The following quotes have struck me over the years, so I pass them along. 

As I look over these, do I find that any parts of them apply to my life in the world of today?

Monks, wrote Etienne Gilson, are those who "by preaching and by example, maintain the full spirit of the Gospel in a world unable to bear it."  (quoted in Cistercian Contemplatives, Monks of the Strict Observance, 1947, p. 5)

"Because spiritual perception is dulled by the pressures of the world, the world, with all its natural excellences as well as with all its false sanctions and ephemeral attractions, must give place to the spirit... the trouble with renouncing the world is that it comes back in another form.  You bar the window of your cell against it, and it comes up through the boards of the floor."  (Dom Hubert Van Zeller, the Yoke of Divine Love, Templegate, 1957, p. 29)

"Always the monk has to remember that for him the world is as alien an element as the sea is to man.... he can comfort himself with the knowledge that for the sea to get the better of him, it has to be swallowed.  It is not strictly the extent to which a man is in the water that causes drowning; it is the extent to which the water is in him."  (Van Zeller, p. 35)

"We... afraid of being left behind in contemporary thought, assent too readily to the conclusions of a humanist and materialist society.. the movement of the world slides over our preference for spiritual things, and we wake up to find that we have accepted earthly things at the world's valuation.  It is only the wisdom of the spirit that can show up the more hidden errors contained in the world's propaganda, and to possess our share of this wisdom, we have to pray.  Prayer alone assures both the light to see and the strength to resist. (Van Zeller, p. 36)
For Prayer and Reflection:  

  • Am I ever "afraid of being left behind in contemporary thought?"  
  • Do I sometimes struggle between the world's valuation of things and God's? 
  • What does Dom Hubert Van Zeller suggest I do about this? 
"The grace of God has appeared, offering salvation to all men.  It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires, and live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age."  (Titus 2:11-12)

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