The words today ring true as they ever did—“Eucharistically and cruciform—a life lived completely in obedience to God.” This was said by one of our faculty in celebration of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. With these words, often we ask, how then shall we begin?
Consider the following encouragement found in Drinking from the Hidden Fountain: A Patristic Breviary, Ancient Wisdom for Today’s World:
When the saintly abbot Anthony was living in the desert, he fell into a state of listlessness and was attacked by a throng of dark thoughts. So he said to God: ‘Lord, I want to be saved, but these thoughts will not allow me to be. What should I do in my misery? How can I possibly be saved?’ A little later Anthony went out and met a man who resembled him. The man was sitting down to work. Suddenly he got up and prayed. Then he sat down again to twist a rope. Then he stood up again to pray. It was an angel sent by God to put Anthony right and to reassure him. In fact Anthony heard him say: ‘Do this and you will be saved.’ At these words the saintly abbot experienced great joy and much encouragement. He behaved this way and was saved.
Begin by prayer. Get up and pray again when you need to or have to. Hans Kung writes in Christianity: Essence, History, and Future that we are indeed not a defeated people. Christianity has the power of God; spirit of faith; its own kind of infallibility. Much of the work of Christians is hidden in prayer and service. We are not an epilogue.
St. John Damascene teaches us, “The day of the Nativity of the Mother of God is a day of universal joy, because through the Mother of God, the entire human race was renewed, and the sorrow of the first mother, Eve, was transformed into joy.”
Universal joy, renewal, and transformation.
Again, we ask, how then shall we begin? As we go forth into our academic year, among our studies, our families, our lives of faith and service, let’s remember—really—we should not have survived 4th century Alexandria.
And the fact is, we did.
With that, we get up and begin again with prayer. Let it be to us as You have said.
By Rebecca Terhune, ’15