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Our society encourages individualism.  We are constantly made to believe that everything we think, say, or do, is our personal accomplishment, deserving individual attention.  But as people who belong to the communion of saints, we know that anything of spiritual value is not the result of individual accomplishment but the fruit of a communal life.

Whatever we know about God and God’s love; whatever we know about Jesus – his life, death, and resurrection – whatever we know about the Church and its ministry, is not the invention of our minds asking for an award.  It is the knowledge that has come to us through the ages from the people of Israel and the prophets, from Jesus and the saints, and from all who have played roles in the formation of our hearts.  True spiritual knowledge belongs to the communion of saints.

emphasis mine

Man does not have to transcend himself in the sense of pulling himself up by his own bootstraps. He has, rather, to respond to the mysterious grace of a Spirit which is at once infinitely greater than his own spirit and yet which, at the same time, offers itself as the total plentitude of all Gifts, to be in all reality his “own Spirit.”

We must learn to respond not to this or that syllable, but to the whole song.  

Merton. Thomas, Faith and Violence (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press: 1968) 117-118.

emphasis mine

November 2011