Realizing Sacred Privileges
The word “realize” is central to Blessed John Henry Newman’s pastoral vision. The challenge we face as Christians is to realize the grace that God so lavishly bestows upon us in Christ. To “realize,” not merely notionally or cognitively, but with our whole being: body, mind, and heart.
Here is an excerpt from one of his sermons, on “The Difficulty of Realizing Sacred Privileges,” that I find most apt as we begin Holy Week.
Alas, that while we thus grow in knowledge in matters of time and sense, yet we remain children in knowledge of our heavenly privileges! St. Paul says, that whereas Christ is risen, He “hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” [Eph. ii. 6.] This is what we have still to learn; to know our place, position, situation as “children of God, members of Christ, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven.” We are risen again, and we know it not. We begin our Catechism by confessing that we are risen, but it takes a long life to apprehend what we confess. We are like people waking from sleep, who cannot collect their thoughts at once, or understand where they are. By little and little the truth breaks upon us. Such are we in the present world; sons of light, gradually waking to a knowledge of themselves. For this let us meditate, let us pray, let us work,—gradually to attain to a real apprehension of what we are. Thus, as time goes on, we shall gain first one thing, then another. By little and little we shall give up shadows and find the substance. Waiting on God day by day, we shall make progress day by day, and approach to the true and clear view of what He has made us to be in Christ. Year by year we shall gain something, and each Easter, as it comes, will enable us more to rejoice with heart and understanding in that great salvation which Christ then accomplished.
The rest is here.
[To anyone in the vicinity of Morristown, New Jersey: I will be offering a presentation on "The Challenge and Promise of Newman" at the College of Saint Elizabeth Monday evening (April 18th) at 7:00 p.m.]