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Old 16th March 2007, 02:35 PM
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Transformation in Christ: On the Christian Attitude, the Readiness to Change

Transformation in Christ: On the Christian Attitude, The Readiness to Change



Transformation in Christ:
On the Christian Attitude
The Readiness to Change
Excerpt by Dietrich Von Hildebrand,
(1940 A.D.) (Ignatius Press reprint)

Put off the old man who is corrupted according to the desire of error, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind: and put on the new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth. (Eph. 4:22-24)

These words of St. Paul are inscribed above the gate through which all must pass who want to reach the goal set us by God. They implicitly contain the quintessence of the process which baptized man must undergo before he attains the unfolding of the new supernatural life received in Baptism.

All true Christian life, therefore must begin with a deep yearning to become a new man in Christ, and an inner readiness to “put off the old man” – a readiness to become something fundamentally different.

All good men desire to change
Even though he should lack religion, the will to change is not unknown to man. He longs to develop and to perfect himself. He believes he can overcome all vices and deficiencies of his nature by human force alone. All morally aspiring men are conscious of the necessity of a purposeful self-education which should cause them to change and to develop . . . Yet, when man is touched by the light of Revelation, something entirely new has come to pass. . . . He knows that no human force can heal that wound; that he is in need of redemption. He grasps the truth that repentance is powerless to remove the guilt of sin which separates him from God, that good will and natural moral endeavor will fail to restore him to the beauty of the paradisiac state. Within him lives a deep yearning for the Redeemer, who by divine force will take the guilt of sin and bridge the gulf that separates the human race from God.

Throughout the Old Testament that yearning resounds: “Convert us, O God: and show us Thy face, and we shall be saved” (Ps. 79:4). We perceive the desire for purification which enables us to appear before God and to endure the presence of the unspeakably Holy One: “Thou shall sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed: Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow” (Ps. 50:9).

God calls us to change
The New Testament, however, reveals to us a call which far transcends that yearning. Thus Christ speaks to Nicodemus “Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3). Christ the Messiah, is not merely the Redeemer who breaks apart the bond and cleanses us from sin. He is also the Dispenser of a new divine life which shall wholly transform us and turn us into new men . . . A strong desire must fill us to become different beings, to mortify our old selves and rearise as new men in Christ. This desire, this readiness to decrease so that “He may grow in us,” is the first elementary precondition for the transformation in Christ. It is the primal gesture by which man reacts to the light of Christ that has reached his eyes: the original gesture directed to God. It is in other words, the adequate consequences of our consciousness of being in need of redemption on the one hand, and our comprehension of being called by Christ on the other. Our surrender to Christ implies a readiness to let Him fully transform us, without setting any limit to the modification of our nature under His influence.

Not all possess the radical readiness to change
Now this radical readiness to change, the necessary condition for a transformation in Christ, is not actually possessed by all Catholic believers. It is, rather, a distinctive trait of those who have grasped the full import of the Call, and without reserve have decided upon an imitation of Christ. There are many religious Catholics whose readiness to change is merely a conditional one. They exert themselves to keep the commandments and to get rid of such qualities as they have recognized to be sinful. But they lack the will and the readiness to become new men all in all, to break with all purely natural standards to view all things in a supernatural light. They prefer to evade . . . the true conversion of the heart . . .

Transformation in Christ requires unqualified readiness to change
. . . Readiness to change . . . is the first prerequisite for the transformation in Christ. But, in addition thereto, more is needed: a glowing desire to become a new man in Christ; a passionate will to give oneself to Christ. And this again, presupposes a state of fluidity, as it were, that we should be like soft wax, ready to receive the imprint of the features of Christ. We must be determined not to entrench ourselves in our nature, not to maintain or assert ourselves, and above all, not to set up beforehand – however unconsciously – a framework of limiting or qualifying factors for the pervasive and re-creative light of Christ. Rather we must be filled with an unquenchable thirst for regeneration in all things. We must fully experience the bliss of flying into “Christ’s arms, who will transform us by his Light beyond any measure we might ourselves intend . . .

Moral progress requires unqualified readiness to change
That unlimited readiness to change is not only necessary for the transformation in Christ: even as such it represents the basic and relevant response to God. . . It finds its highest expression in these words of the Blessed Virgin: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to they word” (Luke 1:38).

Man is called to the unchangeableness of God
It does not behoove us to cherish variability as such; for, as Christians we give our worship not to change but to the Unchangeable God, Who in all eternity remains Himself: “They shall perish but Thou remainest” (Ps. 101:26-28). Thus, as Christians we direct our lives towards that moment in which there will be change no longer, and rejoice in the hope of sharing in the unchangeableness of God . . . It is part of the blissful message of the Gospel that we are called to participate in the eternal unchangeableness of God. Yet our life will acquire immutability in the degree in which we are transformed in Christ. . . . In the measure only in which we yield like soft wax to the formative action of Christ, shall we attain genuine firmness, and grow into a likeness of divine immutability. In that measure, too, shall we rise above the terror which . . . the rhythm of death and life’s law of transiency portend for us.

Readiness to change is the core of our response to God
On the measure of our readiness to change depends the measure of our transformation in Christ . . . Whenever on the contrary, some baser impulse gets the upper hand in a man’s soul, he will shut himself up . . . He will harden and attempt to maintain himself . . The readiness to change is an essential aspect of the Christian’s basic relation with God; it forms the core of our response to the merciful love of God which bends down upon us: “With eternal charity that God loves us; so He hath drawn us, lifted from the earth to His merciful heart” (Antiphon of Praise, Feast of the Sacred Heart). To us all has the inexorable yet beatifying call of Christ been addressed . . . (“Follow me”). Nor do we follow it unless, relinquishing everything, we say with St. Paul: “Lord what wilt Thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6).
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  #2  
Old 16th March 2007, 11:06 PM
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