Brothers and sisters:
I kneel before the Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory
to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self,
and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;
that you, rooted and grounded in love,
may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones
what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,
so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine,
by the power at work within us,
to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus
to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
This passage from Paul is so Merton. It is the foundation for Merton’s true self – false self. In the wake of New Age mysticism born of the Enlightenment, we have seen all kinds of schemes for finding and developing our true selves. The problem is that man-made schemes, even the non-New Age schemes of the Vatican—do not make us God-like.
God gifts us. God gives us the Spirit of the Risen Jesus who dwells deep within us to being us to our true selves—the selves God has in mind for us, the selves that reflect the love of the Trinity. Merton constantly reminds us that contemplation—union with God—is a gift. We cannot earn it or merit it by dint of our effort. All we can do is be faithful—show up and let The spirit do the work within.
The true self is grounded in love. The Spirit empowers us to know the breadth and length and height and depth of God’s love for us. Love is the trademark of the true self grounded in the Spirit of the Risen Jesus.
As I continue to reflect on Vatican II and renewal in the Church, I realize that we forget that we—laity or hierarchy—are not in charge. The Church fortunately is under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit. The Roman hierarchy has hijacked the communio of believers. Jesus never came to found a church designed after third century Roman organizational paradigms.
As the Roman restorationists try to take us back to a pre-Vatican II place, we must resist. We are the Church. We are the community of the faithful coming into our full identity as sons and daughters of the Living God.
Newman spoke of three magisteria. (Does Benedict XVI really know who he just beatified? It is a wonder that he did not condemn Newman when he was the papal Rottweiler.) The magisteria are: the magisterium of the bishops in collegiality with the pope, the magisterium of the theologians, and the magisterium of the faithful—sensus fidelium. Newman said he would lift a toast to conscience before all else. We are not “the people in the pew.” We are the Church.