Thursday, May 28, 2009

"No greater joy than this: follow theTruth"

"Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in health",

O Lord, "your Word is Truth" - grant us life in you, that your Word might be prayer on our lips, rejoicing in praise! Let us share in this greatest of joys!

A military colleague of mine here in Morocco might be described as a somewhat embittered ex-Catholic. And we are sharing a room! He asked to be admitted to the seminary when younger, was rejected and may be harboring some resentment for that and other reasons. I know that he struggles with some demons as do we all. He likes to challenge me as he tries to work out where he stands on the question of the Church and the Faith. He says he is now happy to practice as a Christian outside the visible reality of the Church. I encourage him as I can while also showing him the sincerity of engaging him in debate and conversation when he is willing to do so with respect. Yesterday he challenged me: "Tell me, when was the last time you read the Bible cover to cover?" I upbraided him somewhat for his harsh tone while answering that such a project is important in my life but not first on my "to-do" list as it might be for him. Holy Mass and the praying of the Breviarium come first. This is Word-based prayer though not in a chronological sense.

Today I kept this conversation in mind while pacing outside, sending my voice and thoughts up in communion with the universal Church, praying the hour "ad Primam". And I recalled that nowhere does Christ command "Read the Bible cover to cover" - although I am sure he much blesses those who do. But Christ did command us: "Pray always." And this we do WHILE reading our Bibles. In the prayer of holy Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours we both read the Bible AND pray. In this way the Word, which is Christ Himself, remains in us a living word in the Spirit of truth and thus the Word which gives life. Only the living Word in prayer and praise as love of God in action, the first works of those who have the Holy Spirit, can give the gift of joy which is the evidence of the life of the Spirit. I am greatly blessed to be charged with this responsibility of prayer each day in communion with the universal Church through the oration of the Breviary.

In the Breviary today we read from the 3rd letter of Saint John:

"1* The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.

2 Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in health; I know that it is well with your soul. 3 For I greatly rejoiced when some of the brethren arrived and testified to the truth of your life, as indeed you do follow the truth. 4 No greater joy can I have than this, to hear that my children follow the truth.

5 Beloved, it is a loyal thing you do when you render any service to the brethren, especially to strangers, 6 who have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey as befits God's service. 7 For they have set out for his sake and have accepted nothing from the heathen. 8 So we ought to support such men, that we may be fellow workers in the truth.

9 I have written something to the church; but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge my authority. 10 So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, prating against me with evil words. And not content with that, he refuses himself to welcome the brethren, and also stops those who want to welcome them and puts them out of the church. 11 Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. He who does good is of God; he who does evil has not seen God. 12* Demetrius has testimony from every one, and from the truth itself; I testify to him too, and you know my testimony is true. 13* I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink 14 I hope to see you soon, and we will talk together face to face. 15 Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends, every one of them.

We "follow the truth" in the testimony we give by our life of daily prayer in the Church and with the Church, the Word of Christ "come in the flesh" alive on our lips and burning in our hearts in the sacred liturgies of holy Mass and the hours of prayer. "No greater joy" can we have than this, to be those "children" of the Father who "follow the truth" in Christ by the Holy Spirit praying with our minds and hearts and voices.

I posted more photos from the desert today. You can see them here.

Merci beaucoups pour la visite!

(Photo: Blog author praying the Breviarium Romanum at Marine Corps position near southern Morocco Atlantic coast.)

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