Voce mea ad Dominum

Random thoughts from an amateur theologist.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The glory of these forty days...

In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you. Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. - 2 Corinthians 6:2

Today we begin Lent, the forty days of preparation that the Church observes prior to the Paschal feast. It is a time where the Church in her wisdom prescribes acts of penance meant to purify us and to help us grow in charity. The three acts of penance prescribed are fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. These are meant to detach us from worldly things and raise our hearts to God.

That got me to thinking about salvation and eternal life. I have had some discussions with many Christians of different traditions, and it would appear that the way I understand salvation and eternal life is somewhat different than others. Most would say that salvation/eternal life is something that begins when you die and enter heaven. I would agree with that. But what about now? Is eternal life/salvation attainable to me while I am on earth? The above verse from St. Paul's second letter to the Church at Corinth says yes indeed!

Salvation and eternal life are defined as the pure and endless joy which occurs when we are in communion with God. Eternal life is not merely some far off future event which we hope for, it is experienced whenever we unite our wills with that of God who is love. It is pure joy and happiness which is not bound to a particular time but to a particular experience which may occur in time but not necessarily. Eternity cannot have a future because eternity is forever now, and for that reason we can experience eternity in our everyday lives through our relationship with the God who is.

Lent calls us to perform acts which draw our focus away from ourselves and the world which is passing away. We grow in holiness through our self-denial because we become imitators of Christ who denied himself all the way to the cross. Through our self-denial we are united with Christ who is united with God. Thus it is through Christ that we achieve eternal life, and we achieve it now.


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