Tuesday, November 3, 2009

And Now Abideth These Three

And now abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.[1]

They are the foundation of all Christian moral activity giving it animation, providing its special character.

The theological virtues (faith, hope, and charity) inform and give life to all the moral virtues. The theological virtues are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and of meriting eternal life. They are the pledge of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the faculties of the human being.[2]

I do not recall any of the contemplative writers saying so in so few words, but I am coming more and more to understand, or at least suspicion, that it is the infusion of the theological virtues, accompanying spiritual reading, meditation, and prayer that carry the prepared and receptive praying soul into the desired but fleeting fruit of contemplation. The contemplative state, however, as a gift that challenges intellectual reasoning, can and will defy our best efforts to catalogue, define, or outline steps that it must follow.

Though it may involve multiple stages, the performance of the Christian life (and I use the word performance because living out the tenets of Christianity is indeed a personal performance[3]) is not something arbitrary or guided by chance. This is a performance written and orchestrated by God who knows where we are, considers where we are, and leads every honest searching soul in respect to these personal life-conditions.[4]

Accepting this, how then ought I to live as a follower of Christ on the stage that God has prepared for me?[5] Answering this question is integral to all that I am and all that I do as a Christian, as a Catholic Christian, and as an Oblate in the Order of St. Benedict.

This is the great pressing question that I must continually ask myself.

This is, I believe, also the great pressing question that spans the course of time and comes to bear most heavily on the whole of these turbulent modern times as the most important question imploring an answer. It’s the question that reaches over the obstacles created by borders, hedges, languages, and creeds and has no respect of national origin, sect, or race.

Over the course of the next several posts I will be making a little personal journey of reflective exploration into the values inherent in the theological virtues, virtues and their values that adapt human nature for participation in divine nature. It’s the theological virtues that dispose Christians, in monasteries and in the world, to live in a relationship with the Holy Trinity and provides the substance for every human virtue.[6]

Although we exercise disciplines of various sorts and in various measures in the course of our spiritual journey, and although we practices various human virtues in varying degrees and in sundry circumstances, it is through the infusion of the theological virtues, more than anything else, that the soul enters into fellowship with God.

For an increase in the virtues of faith, hope, and charity … let us pray to the Lord.

[1] 1 Corinthians 13:13 A.V.
[2] CCC, 1813,
[3] James 2:14-26
[4] John 15:16-17
[5] 2 Peter 3:11
[6] CCC, 1812