Teaching & Living the Faith: May 2012 Archives

I am slowly reading a book written by Dom Michael Casey, a Cistercian monk from the Abbey of Tarrawara (Australia), The Road to Eternal Life, a series of reflections on the Prologue of the Rue of St Benedict. With all the talk of being a good witness and yesterday's emphasis on our destiny in Christ, I thought Dom Michael's reflection on boasting in the Lord makes some sense for us today. I recommend the book.

"And again he says, 'Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord'." (2 Cor 10:17 quoted in the Rule of St Benedict, Prologue v. 32)

The one in the New Testament who speaks most about boastfulness is Saint Paul. He sees boasting as an expression of an autonomy that weakens a person's total reliance on God-that is, it weakens faith. Those who think that religion is simply a matter of conforming to the precepts of the law, or perhaps so twisting the precepts of the law so that they are comfortable, have not yet learned the art of putting their trust in God, relying on God's mercy. They are locked into the schemes of self-perfection that they themselves have crafted. The end of such self-assurance can be only disaster. As Saint Ignatius of Antioch wrote to Polycarp, "The one who boasts has already come to nothing".

At Monday's lunch with many of the cardinals --not all--Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the struggle he and they are engaged together: for good against evil. Not exactly a lite topic for discussion for a lunch celebrating one's 85th birthday and 7th anniversary of election to the Chair of Saint Peter, but a point that is true and needs to be addressed.

In reading his text (below) you will notice the Pope's use of the concept ecclesia militans - the Church Militant - which he admits is "old fashion" but still fitting today. When we say "the Church Militant" it means all living Christians who struggle against sin, the devil, or as the Apostle Paul says  "..the rulers of the darkness of this world" and "spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12).

"Church Militant" has two other sisters, "Church Triumphant" and "Church Suffering" that give context to Christian life in light of the doctrine of the Communion of Saints and of what we know the Church to be.

The quick definition of the "Church Triumphant" (Ecclesia Triumphans), indicates those who live in the beatific vision, they see and are seen by God; we say these people are in heaven. The feast day for those in heaven is November 1, All Saints Day.  When we speak of the "Church Suffering" (also called the Church Penitent, Ecclesia Penitens; or Church Expectant, Ecclesia Expectans), we believe that this group of believers are the souls in purgatory. The feast day is  All Souls, November 2.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.



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This page is a archive of entries in the Teaching & Living the Faith category from May 2012.

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