The Communion of Saints

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I am reminded once again that our failures are not final, that they are mysteriously integral to our sanctification.

What this fragmentary and difficult conversation points towards is the Communion of Saints. I’m understanding this not just as a communion of perfected persons, who have left their imperfections behind them; but rather as a communion of whole lives, of whole itineraries towards God. The whole itinerary is what we constantly retell in the lives of the saints. These include even the moments of betrayal, as the Gospel story retells the moment when Peter disavowed Christ. This is not wiped out by Peter’s subsequent life. But God’s response was such that the bitter sorrow he felt when the cock crew was a step towards his apostolic life after Pentecost. God made even this a stepping stone towards sanctity, and in this meaning it belongs integrally to his life as a saint.

[Bold emphasis added]

– Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, p. 754

Nothing that happens to me is meaningless

I believe that nothing that happens to me is meaningless, and that it is good for us all that it should be so, even if it runs counter to our own wishes. As I see it, I’m here for some purpose, and I hope I may fulfill it. In the light of the great purpose all our privations and disappointments are trivial.

– Bonhoeffer

I Love Small

[Farmers] must tend farms that they know and love, farms small enough to know and love, using tools and methods that they know and love, in the company of neighbors that they know and love.

Wendell Berry, What Are People For?,  p. 210

You can change this to read: “Lawyers must tend law practices that they know and love, law practices small enough to know and love, using tools and methods that they know and love, in the company of clients, fellow lawyers and co-workers that they know and love.” Or: “Pastors must tend churches that they know and love, churches small enough to know and love, using tools and methods that they know and love, in the company of church members that they know and love.”

Ascend Higher! Calvin on Teaching and Exhorting Others

It certainly is the part of the Christian man to ascend higher than merely to seek and secure the salvation of his own soul.

Although not all have the office of preaching the word of God, yet a private person who is a member of the church may beget spiritual children to God if he has the occasion and ability to win a poor soul and enlighten him with the faith of the gospel.

But when most people see that God provides an opening for them and a way to instruct the uninformed, they will remain silent, keep their mouths shut, and not say a word… He will be guilty of other people’s sin because he had the means to admonish them and did not.

John Calvin, quoted in Engaging with Calvin (edited by Mark D. Thompson) pp. 36-37.

As Earthly Human Beings

As earthly human beings we have to take account of an earthly future. For the sake of this future we must accept tasks, responsibilities, and joys and sorrows. We need not despise happiness simply because there is so much unhappiness. We should not arrogantly push away the kind hand of God because God’s hand is otherwise so hard.

D. Bonhoeffer, quoted in Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer, p. 408

As earthly human beings we have to take account of an earthly future. For the sake of this future we must accept tasks, responsibilities, and joys and sorrows. We need not despise happiness simply because there is so much unhappiness. We should not arrogantly push away the kind hand of God because God’s hand is otherwise so hard.

D. Bonhoeffer, quoted in Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer, p. 408