Wednesday, February 25, 2009

God’s way is an ascent
No time yet today for a real entry — deadline day at the newspaper. (I’ve not yet heard nor read Mr Obama’s latest speech as I was at the office until about 10 last night.) So for Ash Wednesday here’s something from Origen:
We might suppose a path pointed out by God would be a smooth and pleasant one, free of obstacles and requiring no effort from the traveler, but in fact God’s way is an ascent, a tortuous and rugged climb. There can be no downhill road to virtue — it is uphill all the way, and the path is narrow and arduous. Listen also to the Lord’s warning in the gospel: The way that leads to life, he says, is narrow and hard. Notice how close the agreement is between the gospel and the law. In the law the way of virtue is shown to be a tortuous climb; the gospels speak of the way that leads to life as narrow and hard. Is it not obvious then, even to the blind, that the law and the gospels were both written by one and the same Spirit?

And so the road they followed was a winding ascent, an ascent surmounted by a beacon. The ascent refers to works and the beacon to faith, so that we can see the great difficulty and laborious effort involved in both faith and works. Many are the temptations we shall meet and many the obstacles to faith that lie in store for us in our desire to pursue the things of God.
Image: a scene of Orthodox prayer (that Lent begins next Monday) from Fr Toles.

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