Sunday, July 11, 2010

The supernatural life is essential for every man

"The supernatural life of grace is the great reality in the history of the soul and in the history of God's dealing with mankind. It explains the Fall and the Redemption, the old dispensation and the new, the tremendous importance of the sacraments, the policies and ideals of the Church, the ardors of martyrs and confessors, and the phenomena of our own spiritual experience. Every Catholic is taught to believe that above his physical life and intellectual life, immeasurably above, there is another life which he must life under the severest sanctions. We call that life the supernatural life of the soul, the life of divine grace.

The presence of the supernatural life is so essential for every man that without it the soul, in a most important sense, must be considered dead. In its absence all corporal, mental, and even moral endowments are so many dead men's bones. Physical strength and beauty are good; genius and intellectual accomplishments are good; moral excellence, as far as it can go in the natural order, is good. Why not? God made them. They are His gifts. He gave them to us to serve and to be transfigured by the higher life of grace. That is the divine purpose. If they do not minister to that purpose, if they thwart it, they cease to be admirable. A beautiful corpse is a phrase full of shudders, and it describes exactly the gentle and refined excellence and charm of a world which thinks it can get along for itself without divine interferences.

That is why Christ and the world, the Church and the world, have always been at odds with each other. Each despises what the other values. The world worships mere natural excellence; the Church, like Christ, attaches no importance to mere natural excellence. The world and the Church exist on different planets, in different dimensions, using different modes of thought and speech. While the Church can understand the language of the world, the world finds the language and usages of the Church simply unintelligible. To the ordinary Catholic the Church, in her speech and in her aims, is as simple and as clear as Christ. If there is mystery about her as a halo, it is the mystery that was about Christ; and that was mystery which never confounded hearts fixed in rectitude. The modern unbeliever, though he belong to the cultivated class, regards the Church, if he adverts to her at all, as a sinister and inscrutable portent, analogous to the dark and hideous worship of ancient nations, and full of menace to the intellectual and moral progress of the race. The Church canonizes saints; the world canonizes poets, philosophers, soldiers, and statesmen. While the world ignores most of the saints, the Church attaches a minor value to the characteristic excellence of the poets, philosophers, soldiers, and statesmen. The world and the Church seldom agree; and when they do, it is for different reasons."

-- The Road to Peace by James J Daly, SJ

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