There is nothing which strikes more to the very core of Catholicism than seeing someone's heart converted before your eyes. For all the suffering and struggle that being a Christian in the modern world brings about for those who love Christ truly, the glory he shows those same disciples is laden with an inexplicable splendor and purity. The outcome of the Christian life is seeing Christ, and seeing him work miracles and signs greater and more proximate than any one could imagine. We are called to the work of the Lord and to being his very instruments. I will write it here, though: the only reason we ever "succeed" in this is because we simply let the Lord do the work for himself.

Our "success" is born from our failure. Our strength, as Paul writes, is born from our weakness, in which the Lord's power is made manifest. In our pains, the pains of Christ on the Cross are shown forth; and in our inability to redeem ourselves, his gift of redemption is boldly announced. In all things, the power of the Paschal Mystery pervades our very existence as human beings. It provides unmistakable meaning in the face of the meaningless and unfulfilling promises offered by the world around us--offered by our own flesh and desire for independence from a superior and loving God.

"All men, by nature, desire to know," says Aristotle, but our desire for knowledge is not as we often imagine it. There is knowing that happens through empirical and scientific research. There is also knowing that occurs as a result of being burned. We can study the fire of our lives and our human existence, but we can also reach out and touch it. What we know from being burned is infinitely more 'real' than what we will ever know from observation. What we know from a searing encounter with the Lord Jesus, who burns away our fleshly narcissism, is ever more real than what we know from studying our own flesh and desires. Both are knowledge, but one is limited while the other is supernatural. Only by way of the latter do we touch the divine life we are called to share in, and only in being burned by its sweet Flame do we know its power and glory.

Christ is risen! The fire of the divine life in the Holy Trinity is ablaze! Let us approach it with great reverence and awe, and know quite certainly that there is power here to burn us. Christ will ignite our hearts, and we will show his Light to the ends of the earth.

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    # by Joe Langan - March 31, 2008 at 10:44 PM

    Wow. That's a really powerful reflection. I like what you said about that heightened reality of our knowledge of God, and how that knowledge is a burning one, meant to radically transform our lives. He is a consuming fire, and He wishes to set the world ablaze. It's hard to remember all that though, amid the daily grind, what it's all really about: the spreading of the love of Christ to each heart we encounter. Would that we would be better able to bear that in mind in everything we do...

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    # by Andrew Haines - April 2, 2008 at 2:58 PM

    Joe, thanks for the comment. There is actually a really great talk by Benedict (somewhere within the annals of his pontificate) wherein he speaks of this burning encounter with Christ. His words are far more eloquent than mine, and I'm inclined to say it was in a speech to priests or seminarians that he made this analogy. Any way, it'd be worth looking up. It certainly affected me.

    Thanks for your comment and readership. I think we'll be meeting in the future...?