British writer Houselander

An Eccentric Soul In Love With God: Carryl Houselander

Not many people know about Carryl Houselander, a British, Catholic writer. It’s a pity, because in her short life (she died at the age of 52), she produced some amazing poetry and spiritual reflections.

Houselander had a rough childhood. Her parents were “beautiful people,” who put great stock in appearances. Carryl was rather an ugly duckling, and was abused by her parents.

Had she been a less gifted person-she was, in fact, a mystic, a poet, and a woodcarver-she might well have ended up living the kind of lonely and impoverished existence that is the lot of so many eccentric souls.

Her spiritual teaching is a testament to the capacity of the human soul to wrest beauty and wisdom out of personal suffering, a witness to the power of grace to supply what is lacking in nature’s provision. Because she was an artist, Houselander’s teaching is infused with an intuition so strongly visual that it manifests itself as a kind of iconography. This extraordinary visual intuitiveness permitted her to write such vividly descriptive prose that it is impossible not to visualize what one reads in Houselander. More, perhaps, than any other spiritual writer of our time, she achieves the effect she desires by illustrating (rather than by telling us) what we need to know.

Fellow spiritual writer Heather King says that Houselander “swore, drank, had an affinity for wounded children (her own childhood was nightmarish), [and] was a Catholic convert” What drew to her to the Church? Christ, of course. She saw His humanity, His desire for us to be joyful.  She saw the saints as a reflection of Christ.

[The grain of wheat] must be buried in earth, that is, in us, who are made from the earth. The seed of Christ is not buried in angels, but in men. It is to flower and bear fruit through human experience: through our loves, our work, our sorrows, our joys, our temptations. It is to be literally our living and our dying.

We are the soil of the divine seed; there is no other. The flowering of Christ in us does not depend upon pious exercises, on good works outside our daily life, on an amateur practice of religion in our leisure time. It is in the marrow of our bones, in the experience of our daily life.

Houselander’s life teaches us a number of things. First, any situation can be redeemed by God. Houselander’s rather wretched childhood gave her the ability to connect with others who were suffering, especially children. Rather than wallow in self-pity, Houselander chose to use her experience to help others. Although she was not a particularly out-going person, she allowed God to use her outside of her “comfort zone.” She likely would have been content to isolate herself, reading, studying, praying. But she didn’t; she reached out – opening herself and her home to those in need. In World War II England, that meant many children who were traumatized by the relentless German bombing. Houselander’s life reinforces what all the saints teach us: that Christ must be the focus of our lives. We must spend time with Him in prayer if we hope to ever share our gifts and talents with others.

If you’ve never read about Houselander or, better yet, read her work, take some time to do so. You’ll find a treasure, a modern woman whose life bore rich fruit precisely because of her love of God.

three states

Our Church: Suffering, Militant, Triumphant

When most of us think of “Church,” we tend to think of a physical building or place. Perhaps it is our parish church or the church where we grew up. Maybe we see soaring spires or stained glass windows donated by immigrant families a century and a half ago. Perhaps it is St. Peter’s we envision, with the pope on the balcony addressing the crowds.

Yes, indeed. All of these are “church.” But since Church is also the Mystical Body of Christ, we cannot say that any of those places are only Church. Jesus said that where two or three are gathered in His name, He is present. That is Church as well.  Our homes, where prayers are taught, forgiveness and mercy are learned, and the covenant of marriage lived out is the domestic church.

Beyond this even, we belong to a Church that defies both time and space, because God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – defy all laws of physics. We have been given mortal bodies but immortal souls, souls marked with the sign of the cross at our baptism and that sign is eternal.

Theologians have long taught that the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, has three states: suffering, militant and triumphant. 

The Church, the Mystical Body, exists on this earth, and is called the Church militant, because its members struggle against the world, the flesh and the devil. The Church suffering means the souls in Purgatory. The Church triumphant is the Church in heaven. The unity and cooperation of the members of the Church on earth, in Purgatory, in Heaven is also called the Communion of Saints.

If you are reading this, you are part of the church militant. That’s a strong phrase, isn’t it? We think of soldiers in dress uniform, parading by officers. Worse, it conjures up images of soldiers in trenches, with explosions and noise and peril.

But if you think of these images in spiritual terms, they are quite accurate. We work hard to do our very best for God, to not only look good on the outside, but the inside as well. This takes training and practice, and leadership . Further, in our world today, we are surrounded by violence, attacks on our faith and families; we must fight for our faith and our freedom.

While our souls are immortal, our bodies are not; it hurts to lose our loved ones, but we rest assured in faith that their souls – should we care for them properly – will enter into the glory of Heaven. Some souls are not prepared at the time of death to face God, not because He is mean or angry or vengeful, but because we must be purified in order to stand in front of His awesome glory. We truly must be cleansed.

In very simple terms, it’s like the little boy who has been outside playing all day. He has dug hols to find worms, inspected mushrooms on his hands and knees, snuck over to the neighbor’s orchard to steal an apple or two, caught tadpoles and frogs, teased the neighbor girl with a snake. When he arrives home for dinner, his mother tells him they are going to have dinner with Father’s boss, and the boy needs to be cleaned up. He is subjected to Mother’s scrubbing: behind the ears, under the nails. literally cleaned from head to toe. When he is done, the boy is fairly glowing (maybe even a bit raw) from his “purification.” And so it is with Purgatory.

The Church triumphant consists of saints: those known to us and those known only to God. This should be the goal of every Christian: to have lived a life worthy, so that when it comes to an end, we may to stand in front of Almighty God with a soul as pure as it was the day we were baptized.

Monday, we’ll continue discussing t he three parts of the living Church, the Body of Christ.

Rites of the Church

The Catholic Church Is All “Rite”

Likely every Catholic reading this blog belongs to the Latin or Roman Rite. What does that mean? A “rite,” in liturgical-speak, is simply a church that celebrates the sacraments in a particular way. The different rites in the Church tend to have been created around certain cultural traditions, and those cultures have given the rites their own unique characteristics. However, these rites all recognize the supremacy of the pope, Scripture and Sacred Tradition. These rites are generally formed in two categories: Eastern and Western churches.

There are three major groupings of Rites based on this initial transmission of the faith, the Roman, the Antiochian (Syria) and the Alexandrian (Egypt). Later on the Byzantine derived as a major Rite from the Antiochian, under the influence of St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom. From these four derive the over 20 liturgical Rites present in the Church today.

This means that our faith, the Catholic faith, is truly universal. It also means that it encompasses more than most of us realize. For those of us belonging to the Roman or Latin rite, our main liturgy, the Mass, is celebrated either in Latin or in the local language. The “Ordinary Form” is in the local language, and takes its shape from the Missal after the Second Vatican Council. The Extraordinary Form is celebrated in Latin, using the Missal from 1962.

The rest of the Western rites are:

• Mozarabic – The Rite of the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal) known from at least the 6th century, but probably with roots to the original evangelization. Beginning in the 11th century it was generally replaced by the Roman Rite, although it has remained the Rite of the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Toledo, Spain, and six parishes which sought permission to adhere to it. Its celebration today is generally semi–private.
• Ambrosian – The Rite of the Archdiocese of Milan, Italy, thought to be of early origin and probably consolidated, but not originated, by St. Ambrose. Pope Paul VI was from this Roman Rite. It continues to be celebrated in Milan, though not by all parishes.
• Bragan – Rite of the Archdiocese of Braga, the Primatial See of Portugal, it derives from the 12th century or earlier. It continues to be of occasional use.
• Dominican – Rite of the Order of Friars Preacher (OP), founded by St. Dominic in 1215.
• Carmelite – Rite of the Order of Carmel, whose modern foundation was by St. Berthold c.1154.
• Carthusian – Rite of the Carthusian Order founded by St. Bruno in 1084.

The Eastern churches have their own hierarchy, but still recognize the supremacy and leadership of the Holy See (the Vatican). These churches date back to the Apostles, who followed Christ’s command to go forth and spread the Good News.

The first set of Eastern rite churches are known as Antiochian. These are the Syrian churches. (Please keep these churches and their congregations in prayer. They are experiencing deep persecution, and many Syrian Christians have had to flee their homes.) These churches include:

Maronite – Never separated from Rome. Maronite Patriarch of Antioch. The liturgical language  is Aramaic. The 3 million Maronites are found in Lebanon (origin), Cyprus, Egypt, Syria, Israel, Canada, US, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Australia.
Syriac – Syriac Catholics who returned to Rome in 1781 from the monophysite heresy. Syriac Patriarch of Antioch. The 110,000 Syriac Catholics are found in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Canada and the US.
Malankarese – Catholics from the South of India evangelized by St. Thomas, uses the West Syriac liturgy. Reunited with Rome in 1930. Liturgical languages today are West Syriac and Malayalam. The 350,000 Malankarese Catholics are found in India and North America.

Chaldean – Babylonian Catholics returned to Rome in 1692 from the Nestorian heresy. Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans. Liturgical languages are Syriac and Arabic. The 310,000 Chaldean Catholics are found in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey and the US.
Syro–Malabarese – Catholics from Southern India using the East Syriac liturgy. Returned to Rome in the 16th century from the Nestorian heresy. Liturgical languages are Syriac and Malayalam. Over 3 million Syro–Malabarese Catholics can be found in the state of Kerela, in SW India.

In the early 300s A.D., the Emperor Constantine established the Eastern center for the church in Constantinople. These churches developed liturgical practices based on St. James the Apostle and later, St. John Chrysostom.  These include the Armenian rite and Byzantine rite churches.

Finally, there are the Alexandrian rites: Coptic and Ethiopian/Abyssinian. Their liturgies date back to the teachings of St. Mark the Evangelist.

So what does this mean for us, the average Catholic church-goer? It means that we belong to a much larger spiritual family that most of us likely realized. It also means that we should learn about these rites; they are part of our heritage as well. Their art, music, and deep cultural  histories are not only fascinating, but they have the potential to deeply enrich each of our spiritual lives. Finally:

All the rites of the Catholic Church are of equal dignity and equally valid. Attendance at a different rite fulfills the Sunday obligation. The Catholic Church is truly universal since it unites so many diverse rites, whose members share a common faith.

It is truly a joy to be able to celebrate our common faith with our Eastern brothers and sisters. Knowing a bit more about these rites gives us the opportunity to learn more about our Faith history, cultures, languages and to see how the Holy Spirit has informed and inspired God’s people around the world.

[Photo above: St. Panteleimon at Lake Ohrid in Macedonia.)

Assumption of Mary

Assumption Of Mary: Why Do We Celebrate This?

On August 15, Catholics celebrate the Assumption of Mary, a holy day of obligation. Normally, we would be obligated to attend Mass for this feast, but because this year it falls on a Monday, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has lifted the obligation. However, the faithful are still urged to attend Mass if it is possible.

What exactly is the Assumption of Mary and why do we celebrate it? There is often criticism from our Protestant brothers and sisters regarding this, as there is no place in the Bible we can point to and say, “Here it is! It really happened!” However, the Church has always been careful to warn the faithful against biblical “fundamentalism:”

…typified by unyielding adherence to rigid doctrinal and ideological positions—an approach that affects the individual’s social and political attitudes as well as religious ones. Fundamentalism in this sense is found in non-Christian religions and can be doctrinal as well as biblical. But in this statement we are speaking only of biblical fundamentalism, presently attractive to some Christians, including some Catholics.

While the Church teaches that the Bible is without error, there is also living Tradition that must be considered when studying Scripture. As Catholics, we trust our spiritual leaders, the bishops, to help us understand and apply Scriptural truths. While the Assumption of Mary is not recorded in Scripture, the Church has  vast historical knowledge regarding this early Christian celebration.

After the building of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 336, the sacred sites began to be restored and memories of the life of Our Lord began to be celebrated by the people of Jerusalem. One of the memories about his mother centered around the “Tomb of Mary,” close to Mount Zion, where the early Christian community had lived.

On the hill itself was the “Place of Dormition,” the spot of Mary’s “falling asleep,” where she had died. The “Tomb of Mary” was where she was buried.

At this time, the “Memory of Mary” was being celebrated. Later it was to become our feast of the Assumption.

The dormition of Mary is a belief (but not a tenent of the Faith) that Mary did not suffer death, as death is a result of original sin. Since Mary was born without original sin, some theologians have concluded that Mary “fell asleep.” The use of the term “sleep” for “death” is well-documented in the New Testament.

So why do we celebrate Mary’s Assumption? From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

After her Son’s Ascension, Mary “aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers.” In her association with the apostles and several women, “we also see Mary by her prayers imploring the gift of the Spirit, who had already overshadowed her in the Annunciation.”

“Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.” The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians:

In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death.

By her complete adherence to the Father’s will, to his Son’s redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church’s model of faith and charity. Thus she is a “preeminent and . . . wholly unique member of the Church”; indeed, she is the “exemplary realization” of the Church.

Her role in relation to the Church and to all humanity goes still further. “In a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the Savior’s work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace.”

“This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation . . . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix. (para. 964-969)

In 2013, Pope Francis reminded the faithful that Mary “accompanies us, struggles with us, sustains Christians in their fight against the forces of evil.” Certainly that would be enough for us to want to celebrate this holy day. However, the Holy Father also said that the Faith we cherish is founded upon not a belief or an event, but a truth:

Our whole faith is based upon this fundamental truth which is not an idea but an event. Even the mystery of Mary’s Assumption body and soul is fully inscribed in the resurrection of Christ. The Mother’s humanity is “attracted” by the Son in his own passage from death to life. Once and for all, Jesus entered into eternal life with all the humanity he had drawn from Mary; and she, the Mother, who followed him faithfully throughout her life, followed him with her heart, and entered with him into eternal life which we also call heaven, paradise, the Father’s house.

As we look forward to this holy day, let us meditate upon all the riches the Church has given us regarding Mary. Let us turn to her in faith, asking her to intercede for us as we continue to seek Christ in all we do. His Mother will certainly aid us in this endeavor.


The Canonization Process: How Does The Church Declare A Saint?

The Catholic Church will be declaring its newest saint on September 4, 2016: Mother Teresa of Kolkota. As you might imagine, the Church has a rather rigorous method of formally declaring a person a saint. (Keep in mind, too, that just because a person is not formally declared a saint does not mean they are not in Heaven in the presence of God for all eternity. The Church simply cannot go through this process with every single person.)

The formal process of the Church entails several steps: being declared a Servant of God, then Venerable, Blessed and finally Saint. Usually the process cannot begin until the person has been deceased for at least 5 years, unless the pope waives that time period. St. John Paul II waived the period for Mother Teresa, and Pope Benedict XVI waived it for John Paul II. Once the 5 year waiting period has concluded, the bishop of the diocese where that person lived petitions the Vatican to begin the process. If there are no objections, the process begins.

The road to canonization can seem like a very long one, and it is, for good reason. The Church must invest a great deal of time and research into that person’s life, making sure that the person did indeed lead a holy life in all matters, both public and private.

Once the process begins, the person in question is given the title, “Servant of God.” If you’ve ever wondered why so many priests and nuns are declared saints and not so many lay people, it lays in this step. All the person’s writings must be collected, including private writings such as diaries and letters to friends and family. The person’s entire life must be documented. For a religious, the diocese or the religious order may designate people to do this work. For a lay person, it is much more difficult to have someone devote so much time for this. It is essentially a full-time job for at least one person, and usually more.

Once that step has been completed, the person is declared “Venerable.” At this point, one miracle must be attributed to the intercession of this person. In the case of John Paul II, it came from a French nun, who suffered from Parkinson’s (the same disease that claimed the life of the pontiff.) Her miraculous recovery from the disease in 2011 was the first recorded miracle attributed to Pope John Paul II’s intercession. Such miracles must be investigated and confirmed by two tribunals, one scientific and one theological:

The scientific commission must determine by accepted scientific criteria that there is no natural explanation for the alleged miracle. While miracles could be of any type, those almost exclusively proposed for Causes are medical. These must be well-documented, both as regards the disease and the treatment, and as regard the healing and its persistence.

While the scientific commission rules that the cure is without natural explanation, the theological  commission must rule whether the cure was a miracle in the strict sense, that is, by its nature can only be attributed to God. To avoid any question of remission due to unknown natural causation, or even unrecognized therapeutic causation, theologians prefer cures of diseases judged beyond hope by medicine, and which occur more or less instantaneously. The disappearance of a malignancy from one moment to another, or the instantaneous regeneration of diseased, even destroyed, tissue excludes natural processes, all of which take time. Such cases also exclude the operation of the angelic nature. While the enemy could provoke a disease by his oppression and simulate a cure by withdrawing his action, the cure could not be instantaneous, even one day to the next. Much less can he regenerate tissue from nothing. These are, therefore, the preferred kinds of cases since they unequivocally point to a divine cause.

The theological commission must also determine whether the miracle resulted through the intercession of the Servant of God alone. If the family and friends have been praying without cease to the Servant of God exclusively, then the case is demonstrated.

The next step is “beatification” and the person is given the title “Blessed.” This means that the person may be given private veneration or veneration in their own diocese or home. The Church’s investigation continues, and since the declaration of sainthood is considered infallible, the Vatican withholds the decree until all study of the person’s life is complete. At this point, a second miracle must be established. For John Paul II, this came from a man in Colombia, Marco Fidel Rojas, who also suffered from Parkinson’s:

Fidel remembers experiencing the first symptoms of the disease in December 2005. After a series of examinations, doctors determined he had suffered a stroke, which led to the development of Parkinson’s.

Little by little, the disease began to get worse. “I felt like I could collapse at any moment. Various times I fell down outside on the street,” he recalled, adding that once he was almost run over by a taxi.

As the years went by and his health continued to deteriorate, Fidel suddenly remembered on the evening of Dec. 27, 2010, that during a trip to Rome he had met Pope John Paul II after Mass and spoke with him for a few moments.

I have a friend up there, Fidel thought that night, amid his pain. “And he had Parkinson’s. Why didn’t I pray to him before? Venerable Father John Paul II: Come and heal me; put your hands on my head.”

After praying, Fidel said he slept perfectly that night; the next morning he woke up with no symptoms of the illness.

El Tiempo reported that Dr. Antonio Schlesinger Piedrahita, a renowned neurologist in Colombia, has certified Fidel’s healing and says he is in good health.

The pope must assent to the findings of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints. Once the Holy Father gives his consent, the person may be canonized.

By the Rite of Canonization the Supreme Pontiff, by an act which is protected from error by the Holy Spirit, elevates a person to the universal veneration of the Church. By canonization the Pope does not make the person a saint. Rather, he declares that the person is with God and is an example of following Christ worthy of imitation by the faithful. A Mass, Divine Office and other acts of veneration, may now be offered throughout the universal Church.

Note the wording: “the Pope does not make the person a saint.”

The Catholic Church doesn’t make saints like Hollywood makes movie stars. Catholics saints are men and women who lived holy lives in obedience to God’s will, and they became saints at the moment they entered heaven. However, the Church does recognize those souls that the Church can confirm are in heaven as saints.

It is always a great celebration when a person is declared a saint for the Universal Church. We look forward to Mother Teresa’s canonization and the celebration of her dedication to the will of God.


Sacramentals: Not Just Ornamental

It’s become commonplace to see a performer with a rosary around his neck, even though his lyrics would make the Blessed Mother’s hair stand on end. Anyone can go on Etsy and find dozens of vendors who sell saint medals merely as ornaments or jewelry. As Catholics, however, we call these items sacramentals, and they mean something.

sacramental should not be confused with a sacramentThe Church recognizes 7 sacraments, instituted by Christ, which impart grace and act as a sign to a greater reality. A sacramental does not impart grace, but rather acts as a sign of holiness that bear resemblance to the sacraments.

For Catholics, sacraments are necessary for our holiness and our participation in the Church. Sacramentals are not; they are considered very good, but voluntary. For instance, a Catholic does not need to wear a crucifix around his or her neck in order to be a Catholic in good standing. However, we are greatly encouraged by the Church to make use of these signs in our everyday lives: they point us towards the sacraments, the grace imparted by the sacraments and lead us to a holier way of life.

Sacramentals are not superstitious; Catholics don’t believe a rosary is “good luck” and having one means one’s plane won’t crash. The sole reason a person should have a sacramental is in order to increase in personal holiness.

Sacramentals include, but are not limited to such items as:

  • a crucifix
  • a rosary
  • a priestly blessing
  • an icon
  • saint medals
  • blessed candles
  • palm branches
  • pictures or saints

Regina Doman of EWTN says this about the proper use of sacramentals:

Catholics hang crucifixes and holy images in their homes to remind them of God and His works. They cross themselves, bless themselves and their homes with holy water and oil. They pray the Angelus at noon in remembrance of the Incarnation…

Catholics who choose to weave the use of sacramentals into their daily lives can experience a richer, more textured Catholicism. For instance, one young father sprinkles holy water around the beds of his children and prays to God to protect them against nightmares, which sometimes are a problem in their house…

As Christ was the invisible God made visible, so sacramentals, like sacraments, are visible signs of His invisible grace, sanctifying daily life. In a way, they are daily restatements of the Incarnation, of God made flesh, and are dwelling among us in mysterious and wonderful ways.

As Catholics, we have a rich tradition of holy objects to call upon: they fill our lives with reminders of our choice to follow Christ every day, in our joy and in our concerns. Sacramentals advise us to look beyond our daily lives, deep into the reality of the Incarnation: God-made-Man and all that means for our salvation. These holy objects should not be used as mere ornaments or to catch someone’s attention, but as the means to draw all who see them into a deeper and deeper reality than this world has in store of us.


The Ascension Of The Lord: Signpost Of Faith

Today marks the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord. In many U.S. dioceses, the celebration of the Ascension is moved to the Seventh Sunday of Easter, but today marks the traditional celebration. Forty days after the Resurrection, the Lord gathers His Apostles for one last bit of instruction: that He will send the Holy Spirit so that they can witness on behalf of Christ “to the ends of the earth.”

Then, as we are told in the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus is lifted up and vanishes from their sight in a cloud. Despite all the miracles that the Apostles had seen Christ perform, what must they have thought? How incredible! What could this possibly mean?

Monsignor Romano Guardini, a German priest born in Italy in 1885, has some thoughts on this. While Guardini is well-known in some circles, he still seems to be in the background in many places. This is too bad, as he had a profound impact on the spiritual formation of Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI, and Guardini’s book, The Lord, is truly a classic of theological writings.

Guardini said this about today’s Solemnity:

Perhaps we will experience that the Ascension was not simply a unique occurrence in the life of Jesus, but rather above all, the manner in which He is given to us: as one vanishing into heaven, into the Unconditional which is God. However, if that is the case, then these bare sketches are most precious: They are sign-posts pointing us to the ‘stepping beyond’ of faith; and insofar as they go beyond our vision, in fact, precisely because they go beyond our vision, they teach us to worship.

What Guardini seems to be saying here is that in Christ’s last bodily act on Earth, He creates a situation where faith must be relied upon. He is now “beyond our vision” – returning to His Father. With that, we (along with the Apostles) must rely on faith. St. Paul would later write, Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

The Ascension is a reminder to us that we have a Heavenly home, one prepared for us by the Lord Himself. Today, of all days, we should acknowledge our longing to follow Christ, here and into eternity.