My Catholicism is not a result of a single conversion but a habitual way of responding to reality through embodied action. It is more akin to how I go to the gym each morning, not because I made some decision years ago to be fit. Instead, I go to the gym because it’s 7 AM and my body, my subconscious, my own being desires it (even often against my conscious will).
So too relative to my own sense of Catholic discipleship. When I hear that someone is sick and dying from cancer, I say the Hail Mary. When I encounter an opportunity to light a candle and kneel in prayer, I do. When I walk by a church while traveling, I sign my body with the cross. When I encounter the poor in the street, I look them in the eyes–for before me, it is Christ. My “Catholic” identity is not something that I have “chosen” consciously to make central to my being. Rather, it was written upon my body as I have done the sort of things that make one Catholic. Often, it surprises me how much this way of being has become a part of my identity, the way that I think about politics and economics, philosophy and theology, advising students and making a phone call.
Timothy P. O’Malley, Director, Notre Dame Center for Liturgy.
England was converted to the faith when St Augustine of Canterbury arrived on the island of Thanet with forty companions. They might have offered service and they probably preached, but they certainly settled down to Benedictine stability and contemplated God. That is one out of thousands of examples of the mystical process of spiritual power. It is mysterious but indisputable.
When we look at our contemporary trouble spots, at violence in the inner cities, at racial hatred, or torture, murder and rape, I can muster little faith in the efficacy of ‘praying about it’. I have absolute confidence in the efficacy of planting a contemplative community in the middle of it and letting God manifest his power. Prayer, real prayer, is no last resort but the first priority.
—Martin Thornton (via bethmaynard)
Alexander. Freaking. Schmemann.
We come to you, men of weak faith,
So that you might fortify us with the example of your life
And liberate us from anxiety
About tomorrow and next year. Your twentieth century
Was made famous by the names of powerful tyrants
And by the annihilation of their rapacious states.
You knew it must happen. You taught hope:
For only Christ is the lord and master of history.
Foreigners could not guess from whence came the hidden strength
Of a novice from Wadowice. The prayers and prophecies
Of poets, whom money and progress scorned,
Even though they were the equals of kings, waited for you
So that you, not they, could announce, urbi et orbi,
That the centuries are not absurd but a vast order.
Shepherd given us when the gods depart!
In the fog above the cities the Golden Calf shines,
The defenseless crowds race to offer the sacrifice
Of their own children to the bloody screens of Moloch.
In the air, fear, a lament without words:
Since a desire for faith is not the same as faith.
Then, suddenly, like the clear sound of the bell for matins,
Your sign of dissent, which is like a miracle.
People ask, not comprehending, how it’s possible
That the young of the unbelieving countries
Gather in public squares, shoulder to shoulder,
Waiting for news from two thousand years ago
And throw themselves at the feet of the Vicar
Who embraced with his love the whole human tribe.
You are with us and will be with us henceforth.
When the forces of chaos raise their voice
And the owners of truth lock themselves in churches
And only the doubters remain faithful,
Your portrait in our homes every day reminds us
How much one man can accomplish and how sainthood works.