Ps 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5,6
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by David Archibald Class of 2003
The documentary, Into Great Silence, offers a detailed look at the lives of Carthusian monks in the French Alps. It is a powerful film, especially when one enters into the quiet, humble routine of the monks. Amidst the many camera shots of the austere lifestyle the Carthusians embrace, particularly of their prayer and work, a calm interview with an elderly, blind monk caught my attention. He commented on the lack of God-centeredness in the modern world and also elaborated on the fact that death is not something a Christian ought to fear. It is a natural part of life, and one who has hope in Christ ought to always have a sense of joy.
Joy is not synonymous with sentiment. While emotions may sometimes coincide with joy, joy can be better understood in light of St. Augustine's explanation in the Confessions. He upheld that joy is found when one knows truth. Truth makes us rejoice because when one discovers truth it is both liberating and grounding. It is liberating because one recognizes that we are not lost without light in the world. We do not have to try to become our own magisterium or the god of our own life; tasks at which we are bound to fail. Truth grounds us because it allows us to be more fully human by illuminating the path which leads us to fulfill the purpose for which we are created—this being caritas or love. Through the recognition that truth is not created by human beings but revealed by God, we can rejoice in the knowledge that God loves us to the point that He desires to give us abundant life through partaking in truth and grace (John 10:10).
On this day of All Souls in which we pray for all those who have gone before us, may we be filled with great hope in Christ's promise that the truth will set us free (John 8:32), both on earth and eternally. As we ask for God's mercy today may we not fear physical death, but rejoice in the truth revealed by Christ: For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day. (John 6:40)