At the Gates of the City of Zion

Life in Christ implies a most intense narrowing of options–if not the utter elimination of them. One can only choose: choose to receive everything from above and forget everything below. But we are still ourselves; we have not yet ascended in glory; and so we must wait for Christ; we must wait for him to strike us down and lift us up; we must wait for his call and his motivation; we must rely entirely on the Holy Spirit–“seeing no yesterday, seeing no tomorrow,” in a most radical sense: having no link to the prior moment or anticipation of the one upcoming; to keep one’s heart locked in the soul of the present Intercessor, who alone gives us words to speak. Life in Christ means obedience to the voice of the Father within us and a rejection of all the various attractions and factors in life; for even the most benevolent activity goes to waste if it proceeds from our desires and ideas and not exclusively from the will of the Father as it flows “spontaneously” into us at the crown of our head from heaven and graciously into our heart, where it is one with Jesus’ own Sacred Heart, from which flow rivers of living water forever. Amen.

A man’s thoughts issue either from below or above him; in no case are they ever his own; he is totally their product; and yet he can choose which thoughts to identify with and which to let pass and not perturb him. Those that issue from his subterranean life are the natural and sinful; those that issue from the realm above him are divine and redeeming. But man is yet weak; salvation has not yet gripped him in mind and body; as yet he feels his only life consists of that subterranean multiplicity; such that even as he fills his day with choices for God, still his nights are filled with violent and terrible thoughts, filled with passion, corruption, and his uncontrollable attachment to things of this world, the subterranean world. And man is so overwhelmed by these, so closely identified with what issues from below, that he can hardly discern which of these emissions is of value, which is deplorable; such that every morality issuing from himself as its insurer lacks luster and definition; such that even as he fights to perfect these emissions and the human world which is their cumulative result, he cannot altogether lose the feeling that all his efforts are in vain; that his nature is inherently corrupt; and that even if he were to beautify himself, his beauty will die along with him, his works and his legacy will be forgotten. This is the natural despair of the creature “man”: no longer subconsciously immersed in the environment of the subterranean, the consciousness he has of his imperfection finds no remedy within that natural self. And so man must seek elsewhere than within himself or the earth he inhabits; man must look upward; he must open himself to the love that descends upon him from above, which alone can be, and is, his source of improvement, rest, and strength. From God alone comes the grace that perfects nature, by revealing in man the respect that God has had for creation since the beginning. Nevertheless man struggle is compounded in that he cannot even look up to heaven of his own volition. God himself must lift the soul up from its wretched depth; and God does not have to do this – God loves and redeems us in freedom. He sent and sends to us, even now, his Son because He wants to. There is nothing necessary about God’s descent from above—the whole mystery of the incarnation, death and resurrection; subsequently of the descent of the Holy Spirit—unless we see our own nature clearly in the light of God and so prepare ourselves to be receptacles of God’s grace, God’s act of free love, which gives the whole of our subterranean life over to the life of God. Not only is this gift our resurrection, it promises to resurrect all of creation, to lift all up to heaven, the order of perfectly charitable existence. All that man can do on his own is give himself up to God and let God give him the gift of self-release and world-disinterestedness. This is his only hope of freedom in this world, the only chance that he has at not being a slave to his lower thoughts for all his life. Truly, lower thoughts make up the great preponderance of his mental life and plague his physical ones; but God has sent a Savior into flesh, God has given us an eternal opening into His love and the order of divine charity; and He has promised to descend upon the thoughts of all those who believe and act upon His word; and He has shown us by the Apostles and the Church Fathers that He holds true on His promise; for the life that comes to strip away the old man and put on the new life of Christ is the life of the bridegroom Church in us, animated by the Holy Spirit and tasked to love.