Thursday, November 01, 2007

Speaking the Truth in Love, Part Four

"You need interior life and doctrinal formation. Be demanding on yourself! As a Christian man or woman, you have to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, for you are obliged to give good example with holy shamelessness. The charity of Christ should compel you. Feeling and knowing yourself to be another Christ from the moment you told him that you would follow him, you must not separate yourself from your equals - your relatives, friends and colleagues - any more than you would separate salt from the food it is seasoning. Your interior life and your formation include the piety and the principles a child of God must have in order to give flavour to everything by his active presence there. Ask the Lord that you may always be that good seasoning in the lives of others." ~ Saint Josemaría Escriva, The Forge, 450

Truth is not something merely recited, and love is not a fleeting feeling expressed by the overwhelmed amorous. Love is a choice which requires constant reaffirmation; likewise, it is a choice for all of us who still gaze through the glass darkly to gather our ability to focus so that we may live a life conformed to the truth of Christ's love. To avoid hypocrisy and bear the real fruitfulness of the life of grace, the interior life must be cultivated rather than the exterior presentation of love or truth.

To see the unity of truth and love is a work of grace. A mere exterior presentation will ultimately divide the two. One may err with a presentation built on a faulty concept of love that ignores truth, but I imagine the person who has thought the matter out this far would be more apt to succumb to an intellectual pride. His or her presentation of truth would be built on ego, or worse, self-righteousness, which may be read by sinners quite rightfully as a lack of humility or an anger against their person. Such anger is never holy anger.

But development of the interior life is the development of full communion with Christ and conformity to his image. It allows us to become "another Christ" to those we come in contact with. Likewise, doctrinal formation allows us to more freely live as Christ lived. It is right thinking which begets right action, orthodoxy begetting orthopraxy. It is for this reason that many spiritual directors urge people to pray the catechism.

We cannot speak what we do not know, and our knowing is ultimately of the Person of Christ. For this reason, the theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar urged Catholic thinkers to develop la théologie a genoux, a theology on one's knees. A prayerful life dedicated to the study of God's truth has its place in every Catholic's life, be it in the halls of the Vatican by clergy, an ivory tower office of a professor, or some rural adoration chapel in South Louisiana by a layman keeping watch by night. It is a necessity for all who would practice the new evangelization.

Does this mean that we hold our tongues until we learn enough? No. We will never learn enough and Christ has called us to reach those near us. We must speak, but with humility. Does this mean we cave to cliché and not talk the talk until we walk the walk? No. Such is a concern about exterior presentation rather than a genuine love for the souls of others who need the same grace offered to sinners like us. Again, we speak the truth in love, but with the humility to acknowledge our own frailty. And with dilligence, we seek interior growth knowing any good thing we may do must be rooted in Christ's deep work in us. "The charity of Christ should compel you."

The motto of the Parousians is Veritas in Caritate. Humilitas in Excellentia. Pray for us as we pursue a life of truth in love and humility in excellence. If it happens, be certain, it will have to be a work of grace.

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