Sunday, April 10, 2005

Setting the World Ablaze Begins with Oneself

No, I am not talking about self-immolation. "Romulus," a true Catholic gentleman, has reminded me of the Apothegmata Patrum, the sayings of the Desert Fathers, with a brief, wonderful selection:

Abba Lot came to visit Abba Joseph and said: "Abba, when I am able, I recite a short office, I fast a little, I pray, I meditate, I stay recollected. As far as I can I try to keep my thought pure. What else should I do?"

Then Abba Joseph got up. He stretched out his hands to heaven and his fingers became like burning lamps.

He said to Abba Lot: "If you will, become all fire."

Come to think of it, the epiphany of the burning bush which Moses witnessed is a perfect image of grace at work: just as the bush was burning but not consumed, so too does grace transform and transfigure our nature.

And this is certain, since obedience is a holocaust in which the whole man without the slightest reserve is offered in the fire of charity to his Creator and Lord through the hands of His ministers.

-St. Ignatius Loyola, Letter "On Perfect Obedience" Rome, March 26, 1553

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