Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 14, 2005
Forge ahead on your journey
Gather the ingredients to take your first steps into a successful Lent
By JOSEPH HOGAN
Special to the WCR
When a person begins to journey inward, in a sense they discover and are enlightened by what is already there.
The father of monks, St. Arsenius of Egypt, would say: 'Silence, Flight, Quiet,' or in the traditional Latin, Tache, Fuge, Quiese.
One aspect of the journey inward is solitude and silence that enables one to begin to pray. In Russian spirituality, they believe one has to be in the woods or forest to pray. Canadians would agree with that.
In this century, flight would mean for many, leaving behind videos, freeways and noise. It is as if Jesus said to you, "Come aside with me and let us go to a quiet place."
The quiet of the desert
For the old monks, the desert is the quiet place: in the Gospel, the mountain is the quiet place, to be close to the heavens. "He went up on the mountain by himself to pray" (Matthew 14:23).
Quiet also means rest in God, the highest soaring of the soul: to some it is given on earth to rest in the heart of Jesus. Jesus says, "Come to me all you who labour and are burdened, and I will be your rest" (Matthew 11:28).
I think the real problem for men and women on the journey inward is minimizing God. We don't quite believe our Lord when he says good things about us. "It cannot be quite true, at least for me."
The root cause of this distrust is the cloud of original sin which envelopes man. Another cause of distrust of our neighbour and God is ancestral. Most in the past have been beaten by someone and we carry this pain in our genes and heredity, far more deeply than we might immediately realize.
Also, we fail to see God as having largesse, which means a generous bestowal of gifts. Some are afraid of fathers and so hesitate before the immense, grandeur of the fatherhood of God.
Then the tiny pernicious god of Jansenism afflicts us - the god with a stick! This god does not exist.
So what is a person to do on this journey inward with so many adversaries on the left and on the right?
The word "forge" comes from a blast furnace of heat and this is how men and women are summoned by Christ to live on the wings of angels and dance.
You know, the secret of holiness and the journey inward is so simple. The Father loves us tenderly and holds us in his hand. He made us out of his own generosity and thought of you in eternity. You are more important, special and distinctive in the Father's sight than a thousand kingdoms.
The Father sends his Son to redeem all so that all may live in union with the Spirit. Not only that, but Jesus comes to us in Holy Communion everyday on a golden platter. Who arranges our lives but the Father of us all?
The essence of the journey inward is to know and love the Holy Trinity and obey the commandments.
The beginning and the end of the journey inward on earth is prayer. You are unworthy. You are sinful. Constant prayer makes you worthy and less sinful. Praying always is the grease of the journey inward which keeps it moving.
Lastly, the fruit of love and prayer is joy. The sad Christian is sad indeed. How are you able to be joyful when things go wrong?
It's a tough job to remain in peace and love and joyful in misery and our wants. But as a believer, you have three at your side: Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Another three are the theological virtues: faith, hope and love. They are infused and made fruitful and operative at the sacrament of Baptism.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit
If the truth be known, you also have another three: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and they dwell in you bodily.
The face of the Father is the unseen God whom we see in the face of Christ. "Whoever has seen me, has seen the Father" (John 14:9). This saying of Christ is a deep mystery of the Holy Trinity and deserves to be contemplated by Christ's faithful.
Catherine de Hueck Doherty writes: "Our journey of life, which, for all of us, should be a journey inward to meet the God who dwells within us. What does all else matter? All else but that search for God is as nothing.
"What else is life but that desire to know him, to love him and to be with him. Human existence is to live in his presence, now by faith, and constantly to strengthen the arms of that faith, so that they may gradually become strong enough to part the heavy curtains that separate earthbound man from him, so that in this life our souls may know union with him.
'To be possessed by God, to surrender to him utterly, completely, so that even before death one may say with St. Paul; 'I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me.' (Galatians 2:20) to do this because one is passionately in love with him, because one's soul is filled with one desire . . . to make him known and loved by others . . . that to me is life, the journey inward all men must undertake if you want to become one with the Triune God who dwells in your souls" (Journey Inward, pp. 1, Alba House).
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