This week at the seminary I’ve been unlocking the Church in the morning, since the person who normally does it is out of town for a few days. That means I also bring in the National Post, and naturally, I skim it for interesting articles. Over the past few days I’ve watched, as some of you who pay attention to the news probably also watched, as two whole countries, Greece and Italy, seem to be in a crisis situation economically and politically. I also saw this article which mentioned how Quebec is not far behind, as it has been operating on principles similar to Greece and Italy. And how the Quebec’s situation only differs from the rest of Canada in that it is “further ahead” down the road to crisis.
Being raised in a culture that continually tells us “You can do whatever you set your mind to”, and other Pelagian ideas, we naturally think the solution to our problems is to figure out that what needs to be changed, and to go and change it. It’s all about doing things. Throw enough consultants, money, and activity at a problem, and it will solve itself, right?
I was recently reading the homily from the funeral of the theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar, which was delivered by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. And this one line struck me, and has stayed with me all week.
“…From Mary, finally and foremost, he learned that the origin of all fruitfulness in the Church is contemplation, without which action becomes empty activity. He learned that God’s word dwells in silence and in waiting, and only in these can it grow to its greatest fertility.”
[ http://www.communio-icr.com/articles/PDF/ratzinger15-4.pdf ]
Pelagianism was the heresy that claimed we earn our own salvation. In today’s world, the majority of people, including some Christians, don’t care about eternal life. To them, salvation means something different – it means being freed from whatever problems are in their life. So the Pelagian idea says to today’s world: “we solve our own problems”. But even that is not true. Jesus did not only come to give us the possibility of Heaven after we die, but even in this life:
“Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” [Mark 10:29-30]
The necessary link between contemplation and action has been lost on most of us today. Arguably it was lost on the majority of people in the past as well. And because we don’t want to be patient and persevere in contemplation, we take the easy route, and only do the thing we think we can do – action. But the life of every saint stands in contradiction to our shortcut. Their action flowed from their contemplation, their daily, even constant encounter with the Word of God incarnate, in silence and in waiting. We can be certain that St. Peter and St. Paul did not go to their martyrdom because it was part of their own plan to solve the problems the Church was facing. They went to fulfill God’s plan, which He revealed to them in prayer, in silence, and in waiting.
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