May 4, 2010

Your Life Hidden In Christ

"You have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God." (Col 3:3) This teaching from the Apostle Paul indicates the very purpose of baptism. This single sentence indicates the vast horizon of the Christian spiritual life, a life entirely characterized by the grace of Christ signified in baptism. By faith and baptism we are united to the Cross so that like Jesus we might reveal the glory of the Father. Those who plunge into these waters enter into the mystery of Christ's death so that they might also live a life that anticipates their future resurrection. This mystical death hides our live with Christ in God. What does it mean to be hidden in God?

We live for what we love. If we love only what is visible, our life is limited to an existence in the merely day-to-day. Although such a life is easy to imagine and to control, precisely because it lies within the grasp of our self-sufficiency, it does not afford us the opportunity to break beyond "self." A life of "self" is subject to our personal limitations and aspirations no matter how noble. And, this means, unfortunately, such a life is completely subject to death. As a result, whatever joy we achieve in such a life has the fragile brilliance of crystal - a joy far outweighed by the fear it will shattered in an instant."

But if we live for something beyond what this world reveals of itself, our life can expand to the ineffable Household of the Father. To live in this way, means to live beyond the physical and visible of this life, beyond what looks like it can satisfy. To live in this way, we must live by faith alone - faith that God is love and if we love like Him, He will abide with us.

St. John of the Cross teaches God is hidden to us because He is beyond our natural capacity to know. His poems "Spiritual Canticle" and "Dark Night" both celebrate the search of a lover who finds the beloved in secret or darkness. The natural light of reason, our ability to imagine, the noble aspirations of our heart - none of these natural lights are sufficient for finding God. The only way to know Him is by a supernatural means -- living faith or faith animated by charity friendship love of God. To love like God we must abide in Him through by a loving knowledge that reason can only point to. It is in relation to this kind of knowledge that Pascal's words have particular meaning: the Heart has its reasons that Reason cannot know.

Elisabeth of the Trinity says that the journey to contemplative prayer (which she refers to as the pathway of the abyss), requires that we die to trying to live merely by natural lights. Instead we must seek to live hidden with Christ in God. She taught this because she understood the peace and strength such a life provides - she herself thrived in it. Christ is the supernatural Light, the inexhaustible source of loving knowledge of God in our hearts. If we live by the loving knowledge that Christ alone provides we discover that we are invincible to things which "pass away", for our hearts transcend them, "seeking God alone." (Heaven in Faith, #11).

This is what St. Paul wanted for the first Christians. Their lives were at risk for being dissipated by the many concerns of this life. They experienced a proliclivity to live not out of loving knowledge in God which Christ could give them - but rather out of their own self-sufficiency. As a result, they were often robbed of the peace the Lord willed for them to have. Similarly, we must renounce our tendency to self-reliance and learn to live in the hiddeness of our baptismal identity in Christ.