Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Sign of Humility

The Hidden Life of Jesus

Today begins the Novena to St. Genesius, patron of actors.

On this First Day, I am focusing on the Virtue of Humility - the last virtue actors typically think of.

As I wrote to a friend ...

Of all the paradoxes of the Faith, humility might be the most startling - and paradoxically, the least startling, as the brilliance of this virtue consists in being unnoticeable.  Those of us who are members of the Fraternity of St. Genesius (the patron saint of actors) pray every day a decade of the Rosary while meditating upon the Hidden Life of Jesus.  I think there's great wisdom there, for actors are tempted to be noticed at all times - but the vast majority of the life of Christ was lived in the midst of the ordinary, in a humble household, utterly unnoticed by the world.  In that sense, His first Sign came before Cana.  His first Sign was hiding Himself in the joy of humility.

What I mean in that last part is that St. John, in his gospel, uses various Signs that Jesus performs as milestones in the story.  These Signs are all miraculous works that convey deep truths about Our Lord and His mission - the first Sign being the transformation of water into wine at the Wedding Feast of Cana, and the last Sign being the Raising of Lazarus from the Dead.

But, of course, everything Jesus did was a sign.  In fact, everything in the Bible operates both on a literal level and on a symbolic level - where symbolically the meaning of any event ripples out, backwards and forwards in time, informing and unfolding all of salvation history.  Indeed, even in our daily lives everything we see, everything we do, everything that happens to us are things that are both meaningful in and of themselves, and are at the same time "signs", or vehicles of deeper meaning.  And God never violates the inherent dignity of any one thing by making it point to something else: the Raising of Lazarus was both a sign of the mystery of the Resurrection offered to us all, and also a great gift to Lazarus and his family and friends.  The signs of God operate through the validity of the things themselves and the things they signify.

And Jesus, the Word Incarnate, when giving Signs, both tells us words that signify things and also shows us actions that signify things.  With that in mind, consider for a moment the mystery of the Sign of the Hidden Life.  By living most of His existence on earth in utter and total obscurity, He is both doing wonderful and simple things, and giving us a profound and powerful Sign.

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If you'd like, join us in the Novena, which begins today (the day following the Assumption) and ends on the vigil of the Feast of St. Genesius - which is also the vigil of the Feast of St. Louis, the patron of my home town, a place that can also use your prayers.  Let us unite the intentions of all readers of this blog who are joining us in this Novena.



1 comment:

Paul Stilwell said...

"And God never violates the inherent dignity of any one thing by making it point to something else: the Raising of Lazarus was both a sign of the mystery of the Resurrection offered to us all, and also a great gift to Lazarus and his family and friends. The signs of God operate through the validity of the things themselves and the things they signify."

I don't think Christopher West got that memo.