“My Vows to the Lord I Will Fulfill” (2/2/19)
Fr. Ignatius John Schweitzer, OP
Perseverance reveals and even determines which of the various movements of love is most real, which is true love. It builds up stone upon stone on the foundation of the initial choice of love, whose complete, intricate, and stable edifice alone has the significance of a life-long project. It is the harmonious edifice of a living temple built up with the living stones of human relationships. It is the fortified structure of virtue.
Perseverance draws out the flame of love from among the smoke of various impulses, inclinations, and first movements. It is a single all-consuming flame that takes time to do just that—consume all in love. It is the ready stillness of a flame, poised with a calm and living energy (the flame may seem inert…until you touch it!). It is the fiat that keeps us docile to God’s work, responsive to His call, open to His marvelous deeds, and one with the consuming Fire come down from heaven.
Perseverance is the long desert night of remaining on the Cross after the excitement and enthusiasm of initially mounting the Cross have long since faded. The long desert night just seems so useless. There is the temptation that if one would just come down from the Cross, then he would really be able to do something of value (Mt 27:39-42). At times, the desert night is a cold night; at times, an uncanny night; at times, an empty, vacuous night. Whatever the case, the desert’s monotony (mono–tonia) is but a sounding tone of the monos: the music of the one thing necessary—the all-embracing, single-eyed, pure intention of love. And enduring this, waiting for God, waiting in faith and hope, is the flip-side of being taken up by Jesus into His own sacrificial offering.
Perseverance is the fidelity of love. It is the constancy of abiding, an abiding which bears eternity within itself, letting divine love have its way with us. It is a share in the faithfulness of Jesus beckoning the covenantal faithfulness of the Father who raises Him from the dead. “He drew me from the deadly pit, from the miry clay. He set my feet upon a rock and made my footsteps firm. He put a new song into my mouth” (Ps 40:2-3). Perseverance is resurrected life. It is from the Lord who is Spirit, and it is where true freedom is (2 Cor 3:17). For, it is the constancy of abiding in the union of love, a Triune love that is unchanging yet always new.
Perseverance is allowing Mary to offer us totally to the Father with her Son Jesus Christ as she did in the Presentation, amidst those gathered in the power of the Spirit (Lk 2:22-38). It is being a child in Mary’s hands. Totus tuus!
Perseverance is the daily gathering up of one’s life until it is the whole life that is offered, one’s whole being—an existence spread out in time. It daily gathers up another grape of the cluster, a grape that spends itself in the winepress of self-giving. It gathers up another grain of wheat, a grain ground up, kneaded, and brought together into a unity, a totality of offering one’s whole self. Perseverance is the Eucharist celebrated daily. It is the Eucharist finally to be “fulfilled in the Kingdom of God” (Lk 22:16). It is the Eucharist of the Now of today, the Now of eternity. And it is but thanksgiving for God’s own complete self-gift, first given to us. “We love because He first loved us” (1 Jn 4:19).