Monday, December 21, 2009
Theosis: The Journey of the Christian
Happy Monday to you all. Nice light snow covers the ground here in Chicago. The Blackhawks won two games this weekend. Who could ask for anything more?
I would like to extend a warm welcome to newcomers to my blog. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, this blog focuses on the issues surrounding the new translation of the Roman Missal. On other days, I talk about other liturgical, musical, and initiation issues in the Church. I also try to speak from my perspective as a publisher of resources for the singing, praying, and initiating Church.
Those of you who follow this blog know that I often speak about my experience of the liturgy at my parish, St. James, on the near south side of the City of Chicago. As you know, during this Advent season, we have worked hard to make silence a part of the introductory rite. My pastor, the deacons, and the music director have done a marvelous job of leading us into a more deliberate, slow, and careful celebration of Mass. This has been one of the great gifts of this season for me. I noticed at yesterday's 9:30 A.M. Mass that this kind of slow and deliberate celebration has "opened" the Opening Prayer, or Collect, for me in surprising new ways. I find myself paying closer attention to what is being prayed. These Collects for Advent have been so rich. Yesterday was no exception:
fill our hearts with your love,
and as you revealed to us by an angel
the coming of your Son as man,
so lead us through his suffering and death
to the glory of his resurrection,
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
What struck me about the prayer was the fact that it captures, in a nutshell, what this Catholic journey is all about. I am currently reading a marvelous book, Theosis: Deification in Christian Theology, edited by Stephen Finlan and Vladimir Kharlamov. Theosis is a theological term that roughly means the journey of attaining likeness to or union with God. A deeply incarnational principle, this union with God, for the Christian, begins at the moment of baptism, and continues until the Christian journey ends with complete union with God in the life hereafter. Yesterday's Opening Prayer was an apt description of the journey of theosis. Filled with God's love, made accessible through the coming of his Son, we are led, because of our likeness to Christ, through his suffering and death to the glory of his resurrection. Folks, this is what this Christian journey is all about. I like to tell people that, for believers, our lives are like one long procession from the font of baptism to our place at the table of the heavenly banquet. We move through life's journey, hopefully becoming more in union with and in likeness to our loving God. I also tell people that this is not a bad way to live! And it certainly makes a countercultural statement to those who believe they can find "salvation" through the things of this world.
I hope that this Fourth Week of Advent is one of grace and peace for you and your loved ones.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.