THE GREEN TIME OF THE YEAR
I By Fr. Edward Holloway
THE Green Sundays: When the colour of the Mass is the colour of life and hope. taken
away from living things which have sertmg and look forward to their fulfilment. It is the colour of fields. vineyards. and olive groves that live in the hope of the harvest.
So. in the seasons of her liturgy, the Church marks for us the law of life to every man, and she links it to her own.
She was sown with Christ upon ihe Cross: there, the seed was cast into the ground and died, that it might not remain alone, but might bring forth much fruit. We are the fruit brought forth in abundance. for with Christ rising again from the tomb there rises all Mankind ith Him, in a newness of life.
THE Church w a s sown among men at Eastertime. Creation's second spring. Rut the spring is a time of beginnings only, a time of
promise. when the green blade is barely through the earth: the Apostles were commanded to wait until they should be endowed with power from on high. The expectation of the newborn Church was till Pentecost, when the Spirit of God came upon her as flame of fire: the noonday sun of God.
Straightway her life quickened at His touch, the blade swelled into the car, the tint seed began to grow into a great tree, and the nations of the earth to dwell in the wide branching wisdoms of her divine lift. Among the less used parables of Our Lord is the following. which forcefully traces the law which runs in that Kingdom of God which is within a man: So is the Kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the earth.
And should sleep and rise night and day.
and the seed should spring. and grow up whilst he knovveth not . . .
For the earth of itself bringeth forth fruit.
first the blade, then the ear, afterwards the full corn in the
ear . .
And when the fruit is brought forth.
immediately he putteth in the sickle.
because the harvest is come . . . (Mark 4:27-28).
The "state of grace" in the soul is figured here, it is the condition
of living abundantly in God, thrusting up to Him with first the blade of beginnings. then the ear of riper years. and finally the full corn, the harvest of good works which must crown the autumn of a Christian man's life.
Grace is real
SANCTIFYING grace is not some abstract quality: it is a vibrant life in the soul which is real. and which over the years transforms the personality of a man more and more into the image of God. To sa} " the image of God " is of course to say " to the likeness of Christ " : " as the living Father has sent Me, and I live by the Father, so he that cateth Mc, the same also shall live by Me."
This life which is prompted by the "touch" of God cannot begin in the soul unless God gives Himself first, nor without His continual work in the soul, can it increase. The life of grace is therefore only partly. not wholly, within the created order. That is why the coming of the Holy Ghost with power on Whitsunday could be called the "noonday sun of God".
There comes to mind a lecture from college days given by a missioner who had spent his life working in the Far East. He said that languag'es like Chinese and Japanese have few abstract words. and the people have no facility in thinking in the more "logical" manner of the West.
The problem arose—how to put the meaning of "habitual grace" accurately into Japanese? Then they lit upon a phrase which meant the "springtime lushness of grass" and they found the problem solved. For what the life more abundant of spring after winter is to nature. so is the life more abundant in Christ to the soul of man.
If the grain of wheat cast into the ground is to grow, the sun, the shower. and the good earth must work on it together. Otherwise it will lie dormant, and never bring forth the increase possible within it. The play upon the seed of these material forces is essential to its development. They make up its "environment" to use a word often in the news just now.
GOD is our en vironment " in just the same way : " in Him we live, and move, and are as S. Paul preached to a very sophisticated and "modern" people, the people of ancient Athens (Acts 17: 28).
The force of the sun joins itself to the seed, and the dormant life is stirred to increase. God joins Himself to the soul, and the created spirit, naked and dormant in the powers of nature alone, Springs with a new life and lushness, akin to the Divine Life. by which we are made "partakers of the Divine Nature" (2 Peter 1:4) growing toward the harvest of fulfilment in the joy of the beatific vision of God in which we shall possess Him as He is As the soul grows up in God it increases in the stature of its own spiritual powers. even as the body grows up from the weakness of infancy to the prime of adult life. This is not a metaphor, this increase in our powers of intellect and will is real. and is there for all to see in some degree at least. Also, the failure to grow up in grace in the likeness of Christ is also there for others to see.
The fruits of growth in grace we know: we learned them as lists in the catechism in childhood days, and to say "love, joy, peace.
patience. sweetness . . Or "wisdom. understanding. counsel, fortitude . . ." is to name not abstractions, but the most gracious and loveable qualities in life, which transform with a mature beautt the very countenances of men and women in youth and in old age.
Body and soul
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THAT is why. when speaking of the life of grace. the Ilse ut thc
expression " the soul " on each and on every occasion should
be avoided. The entire man is enlivened, dignified, and beautified by grace. even as the majesty of God shone out of the face of the Word made Flesh.
It is through its participation in the life of grace that the body is to share in the glory of the soul at the resurrection: "Not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God . . . He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood has everlasting life, and I will raise him tip in the last day . . ." (John 6:55).
Everything else God made seeks and finds its law of life, control and direction. destiny, within the universe of matter, like the seed sown into the ground at springtime. Man does not. There is no material "environment" whose impact controls, directs, and fulfils the life law of man.
If, man were wholly and utterly a product of material evolution. as his body well may be, then he, too, should find his control and life law within the material order. That he does not is a hard fact of life which shatters every materialism, Mnrxist or agnostic, ancient or scientific.
THERE is no certain truth for a man in the minds of other men. no lasting love, nor authoritative moral law—above all, no love and strength which fulfils. and gives the power to grow deeper. Look at the world today, its majesty of achievement run amok in primitive and ancient lusts, the anguish Of its " not knowing", and understanding that unless there is a God, and unless that God has in some way provided for mankind. then man is is the loneliest and the most tragic orphan in all creation.
Surely it is absurd to look for revelation from other fallible and erring human beings, and to deny the sweet reasonableness of a revelation from the Mind who alone is the measure of man's being and destiny, and the principle of growth in the powers of man's very being? Because men do look for natural revelation, especially the "Humanists". They insist on higher and higher standards of knowledge, knowledge will set us free from sin and stupidity. etc.
Every time people turn on their television sets, and gaze upon the shimmering image of some leading thinker of the day, and gather up reverently the pearls of wisdom which drop from his lips to help them buy a little understanding in their own lives . . . every time they do this the sage is "revealing" himself to them, across many miles of space, and perhaps, if recorded, quite a distance of time as well.
Then why should it be a fairy story to expect that the Creator should make contact with the intellects and wills of men, both inwardly and outwardly? Who is being absurd here, the Christian or the agnostic?
The inner life
IN our reflections on the "state of grace we have been following the inner life of the individual man, made personally (not socially, and by mass production, some foreign theologians might observe) to the image of
the living God. That life of grace however is part of one whole sweeping economy of God which is inward and outward, visible and invisible, personal and social in one vast unity.
This tidiness of God's pros i,lence embraces the origins of
continued at foot of next column