Reading her summary and the quotes selected from Fr Boris’ work, I was especially moved by his comments about the dangerous posed by the richness of the Church’s tradition. He writes that “the presence of Jesus is a reality that is simple, pure, and unique, which is not in need of many words.” For this reason not simply the Church but I “must be … totally transparent to the grace of God – of which it is the channel and the reflection – and totally transparent to the world – of which it is the spokesperson and the prayer-bearer before the face of God – while not being of the world.”
While this is always a struggle in every age and for every Christian I think living as we do in what Macrina calls “a de-christianized” culture this is even more pressing. Where in an earlier time the Church encountered those who had not yet heard of Christ, today we face people who have heard of Him and rejected Him.
In response to this situation, Fr Boris present us with the very real possibility that those who have rejected Christ, have rejected not Him but the poor witness of Christians who approach the world with fear and not in “holiness and purity” and with “a passionate love of the truth” and a “humble love” of neighbor.
In all of this I am reminded of the words of the Second Vatican Council:
Undeniably, those who willfully shut out God from their hearts and try to dodge religious questions are not following the dictates of their consciences, and hence are not free of blame; yet believers themselves frequently bear some responsibility for this situation. For, taken as a whole, atheism is not a spontaneous development but stems from a variety of causes, including a critical reaction against religious beliefs, and in some places against the Christian religion in particular. Hence believers can have more than a little to do with the birth of atheism. To the extent that they neglect their own training in the faith, or teach erroneous doctrine, or are deficient in their religious, moral or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than reveal the authentic face of God and religion (Gaudium et Spes 19).
At least in the States, we seem to want to limit “transparency” to the Church’s administrative and financial dealings. But there is only a limited value to this kind of transparency–after all mobsters can be transparent, at least in their dealings with each other. But Fr Boris challenges us, challenges me, to a deeper mode of transparency–one in which the Gospel and “the presence and the words of the Lord” are clearly visible in and through me.
Transparency in this sense is not alien to the human person. Nor does it require the dissolution of the personality. We are rather called to be like the window that is both transparent to, and illumined by, the sun.
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