Tuesday, February 16, 2010

On Learning to Live

Repentance is not awareness of my personal guilt, as St. John Climacus says in the Olivier Clement snippet I posted yesterday. Repentance is awareness of “the daily murder of love” in me, of my loveless and therefore separated condition. Repentance is that awareness plus the longing to overcome it.

Simply keeping the Law won’t help. And this is not because I cannot do it, although that is also true. It is because there is no law that could give me eternal life even if I did keep it. (Galatians 3:21). Eternal life is the very same thing as true love, and no keeping of any (or every) law can instill in me that kind of love, the love we find perfectly expressed only in Christ, and less perfectly (but still marvelously) expressed in His saints.

Such love comes only from Christ, for only He has it, or rather, is it. Put another way, “Only [Christ] has immortality.” (I Timothy 6:16; see also John 5:26) Christ, by that immortal Love, transfigured death, proving Love stronger than every torment, and stronger even than Hades.

To be rescued from death, I need the Immortal Life, that is the Love, found in Him, in His Person. That is what Baptism and Chrismation together accomplish; the one plants me into Christ, into His death and resurrection, and the other plants His Holy Spirit deep in my own heart.

Now I am immersed in Love, in Life. Now He breaks the bread of Life with me.

There remains one issue, the one we tackle especially during Great Lent, and that is learning what to do with that new life, how to exercise that new love. As the wings of a newly-emerged butterfly do him no good unless he flaps them, so new and eternal life avails me little or perhaps even nothing unless I learn to live it. I have been awakened from sleep, but what does that mean if I never open my eyes, get up, move about? I am a newly-delivered infant; but what does that mean unless I breathe this new thing called air, unless I suckle, unless I can cry and move? Or what does it mean to be a fish that cannot swim?

Great Lent is for exercising our weak spiritual muscles and learning to use our new spiritual faculties, that we not enter the realms of light blind, nor deaf to the heavenly anthems, nor mute instead of singing, nor paralyzed instead of soaring.


Anonymous said...

"Now I am immersed in Love, in Life. Now He breaks the bread of Life with me".

NOW, He breaks the Bread of Life 'in' you - He must if you are immersed in Love and if your Heart has been opened to receive Him.

Revelation 3:20 "Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

Anonymous said...

And if He breaks the bread 'in' you - what will happen? Why this. Saints always start as Sinners...

"Perhaps this explains why the saints often seem to us to be so profound and even clairvoyant. The love they have cultivated inside themselves, the life of Christ in them, cleanses the perceptions, the reason, the emotions, the motivations. They see and understand a lot more than the rest of us can. They are more aware than we are, are more alive than we are, who go about like sleepwalkers" - until there is that knock at the door which really wakes you up.

DebD said...

Thank you Anastasia. You put into beautiful words something I've been scratching the surface of these last few days.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Yup, every saint starts iout a sinner - and becomes more and more aware of being one, the more s/he grows in Christ.

And even after any wake-up call (except death), the saint has to struggle. Hard. Very hard, unto the last breath.