Sunday, September 4, 2016

Transformation In Christ - Readiness to Change Part 1

Welcome, starting first chapter review of Transformation in Christ, but Von Hildebrand. I have quoted parts of key area's that struck me and group them together, then done my narrative reflection, I will refer the author as VH.

It starts with that all Christians "yearning to become a new man in Christ, and in inner readiness to put off the old man".  Keep in mind book is written in the 1940's so there is no political correctness, just simply Von Hildebrand that all of us is one way or another looking to deepen our spirituality and relationship with God.  He goes further "morally aspiring men are conscious of the necessity of purposeful self-education" and "revelation of the Old Testament alone suffices to make believer aware of man's metaphysical situation".  So we all need to study our faith closer and just reading the Old Testament, itself gives us the awareness of how we can improve our relationship with God. "Within him lives a deep yearning for the Redeemer, who by divine force will take the guilt of sin and bridge the gulf that separates the human race from God".

God calls us to change. "The New Testament, however, reveals to us a call which far transcends that yearning.  Though we receive this new life in Baptism as a free gift of God, it may not flourish unless we cooperate.  A strong desire must fill us to become different beings to mortify our old selves and re-arises as new men in Christ. Our surrender to Christ implies a readiness to let Him fully  transform us, without setting any limit to the modification of our nature under His influence."  These sentences gathered together from several paragraphs indicate that even though we have been given a gift of new life, we must retain it continuously and always looking to improve our faith.

Readiness to change vs natural optimism. "The difference between the Christians and the natural idealist is obvious . The idealist is suffused with optimism concerning human nature as such.  He overlooks our impotence to erase a moral guilt. It prevents him from understanding even the necessity of basic renewal, let alone the full presence of such virtue - holiness." For today in our time , this is more noticeable, from education to media, idealism has taken a whole new outlook and has stepped up to put all our ideals above God's, from claiming a woman has a right to her own body to try to eliminate Gun violence by reducing gun control.  I'm not a gun activist, but I can clearly see controlling or restricting is not going to eliminate violence, especially terrorism, but we first have to crush the evil we allow, like divorce, contraception, abortion to truly combat violence.

"He has in mind a relative change only; an evolution immanent to nature.  The objective is not to be reborn : to become radically another man he merely want to perfect himself within the framework of his disposition. A second point if difference closely connected with this . The idealist readiness to change is aimed at certain details or aspects only, never at his character as a whole, the Christian, however, is intent on becoming another main in all things. We must submit to supernatural transformation, by the new principle of supernatural life conveyed to him by Baptism..  Thirdly, the man of natural moral endeavor will always stick to the firm ground of nature." VH is challenging Christians to be above what the secular world, in this case the media for most part so we can elevate ourselves closer to God's level, we cannot onlky depend on the nature around us, the immediate environment no matter how perfect it seems, it is really a mirage, kind of like the movie "Matrix"

"Not all posses the radical readiness of change. For a transformation in Christ, is not actually possessed by all Catholic believers. Its is, rather, a distinctive trait of those who have grasped the full import of the Call, and without reserve have decided upon an imitation of Christ.  Many religious Catholics whose readiness to change is merely a conditional one. They lack the will and the readiness to become a new man all in all. They prefer to evade the act of metanoia; a true conversion of the heart. Their conscience permits them to remain entrenched in their self-assertion. For example, they do not feel obligation of loving their enemies. They maintain as self evident their claim to the world's respect, they dread being looked upon fools of Christ and anxious to stand justified in the eyes of the world." It is clear here that VH is pointing out to truly transform ourselves to follow God is not a selective process, there are no conditions we can choose to follow God, we are either all in or not.  This is challenging, but God certainly gives us the opportunity and time to do this.  It is not something all can do at a immediate pace,

Transformation in Christ requires unqualified readiness to change. "readiness to become another man and having heard the call ' Follow me', to do so , he is not required literally to relinquish everything in the sense of evangelical counsels: this would be in answer to another, more particular call. Readiness to change, taken in this sense, is the first prerequisite for the transformation in Christ. We must be determined not to entrench ourselves in our nature. We must fully experience the bliss of flying into Christs arms, who will transform us by His light beyond any measure we might ourselves intend." It's here VH gives us sense of relief in terms of a calling, as not everyone is called to be directly servants of God like the clergy, but we do need to be above what the World promotes today as how we should live, but more importantly , what kind of relationship we have with God.

Moral progress requires unqualified readiness to change. "Merely the condition for embarking on our journey towards our supernatural goal. It also constitutes the permanent basis for continual progress on our road. Until we have reached the safe harbor of the status finales, souls will rest unchangeably in the boundless bliss of communion with God. Discourses for Mixed Congregations, Cardinal Newman points out the danger inherent in believing oneself to have attained a satisfactory degree of spiritual progress-now matter how high a degree it actually is, example of the saints teaches us that spiritual progress implies no hardening of the fluidity.  In his earthly life the Christians must never let the process of dying unto himself and rising again in Christ come to a standstill: he should always preserve that inner fluidity which is an ultimate expression of the situation implied in the status viae.
The necessity of what is here described as readiness to change applies by no means only to him who has gone through a conversion and even to such as have never definitely and gravely trespassed against God's commandments.  They, too must be willing to rise above their nature and hold themselves ready for coinage by the spirit of Christ." It is here that VH is declaring our relationship with God cannot be static, it must always be evolve, even if there appears to be setbacks.  We can never accept that our spirituality has reached a plateau, including being so called spiritual high. Until we reach heaven, as St. Paul stated, its until we finish the race.

Supernatural readiness to change vs malleability. "State if fluidity as such, general disposition to change in no matter what direction. The change implied in the continual process of dying unto ourselves, being reformed by Christ. Rather it involves a firm standing in the face of all mundane influences, a character of impermeability in regard to them. That fluidity in our relationship with Christ is anything but a state characterized by a continuous flow of change in the sense that the charge as such be credited wit a value of its own".   I struggled with this part, malleability is defined as capable of being shaped, pressed and formed.  So it appears VH is pointing out that with all the forming we have gone through in our life, that is things we experienced in life through repetitive tasks,  we can't apply that same method in our relationship with God.

Man is called to the unchageableness of God. "As Christians we give our worship not to change to the Unchangeable God.  Christians we direct our lives towards the moment in which there will be change no longer. We deny our love to the heaving rhythm of life.  Nor can we be intoxicated by any communion with Nature in a pantheistic sense.  For we do not believe ourselves to be part of Nature.  The blissful message of the Gospel that we are called to participate in the eternal unchangeableness of God." It is here we must keep hold of the core values of our faith in God, they cannot be changed and be caught up some of the pleasures or materialistic things we experience, I guess good example is having my Starbuck coffee time and just sitting outside and enjoying the nature, feel all is alright and I'm not going to anyway interfere with my pleasant moment, even if someone else is in need of help.  It's here we put ourselves above serving our neighbor to enjoy that moment, and thus not being good Christians.