A QUALITY OF SPIRIT
READ: Titus 3:1-7
Paul writes… “Remind the congregation to be obedient to those in authority; to be ready to do good at every opportunity; not to go slandering other people but to be peaceable and gentle, and always polite to people of all kinds. There was a time when we too were ignorant, disobedient, misled and enslaved by different passions and diversions; we lived then in wickedness and malice, hating each other and, in so doing, hating ourselves. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior for humanity were revealed, it was not because of any upright actions we had done ourselves; it was for no reason except His own faithful love that He saved us, by means of the cleansing water of rebirth and renewal in the Holy Spirit which He has generously poured over us through Jesus Christ our Savior; so that justified by His grace, we should become heirs in hope of eternal life.” – Titus 3:1-7
The contemplative approach to Christian discipleship places great emphasis on the matter of quality of spirit. It is the understanding that Christianity is not based on keeping the right rules and believing the right doctrines, but rather about possessing a right quality of spirit, a quality of spirit that makes itself known in a certain quality of life, the Christ-like life being expressed in a human life. This quality of spirit comes by means of the Presence of God’s Holy Spirit at work in one’s life, cleansing away that within the soul of our living which needs to be cleansed away … and enhancing that within within the soul of our living that needs to enhanced, even bestowed.
Using the list of attributes found in the Book of Galatians, this quality of spirit has within it the qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control. Here is Titus, Paul speaks of that quality of spirit being peaceable and gentle, and surprisingly, even being polite. All of these are aspects of a certain quality of person, not a list of selectively chosen set of rules, not a litmus test of selectively endorsed doctrines, but rather … a quality of person.
One day on a mission to our sister community, Sacred Heart Convent, I noticed two nuns walking quietly along a path. Their pace was but a most leisurely stroll. And as they ambled along the path they appeared to be involved in a quiet, heartfelt conversation with each other. As they walked, a shaft of sunlight peaking through the clouds happened to fall upon them, and seemed to follow them for the longest while, as if God were following them with some heavenly spotlight. In that light and in the countenance they each and both displayed, I did behold – at least in this vision before me – surely what was meant by a contemplative quality of spirit. As I watched them walk in that light, I saw the gentleness of God’s grace embodied in a rather common but somehow quite special human experience. And I found that I did cherish that vision… with all my heart and with all my soul … the quality of spirit found in that moment.
Through my years, I have known many preachers and pastors. Some were gifted, some not so much; some were scholarly, some not so much; some were erudite and eloquent, some not so much. But from among them, I did know a certain few who possessed a certain quality of spirit that seemed to be uncommonly rich and mature in Christ’s Spirit. In my encounters with them, I could experience a peaceful presence, a gentle goodness and an authentic and tangible kindness, a certain maturity of mercy that brought a fullness of God’s grace into my life.
Even here at Greyfriars’ Abbey, I love all my Brothers, and I do respect all of them for their devotion … but there are certain few … who live with a certain quality of spirit, a deeper air of peace, a more sensitive touch of kindness, a certain goodness of character that expresses itself in loving gestures. These Christian souls somehow seem more seasoned … in the quality of God’s love and mercy. They seem to be maturing in their growing older.
More and more … and even more nowadays, I believe this quality of spirit is the maturing of the Christ within us personally and among us communally. Yet … sometimes it seems, when I hear the voices who claim to speaking in the name of Christ, I sense Christians who seem more adept at anger and rudeness, self-indulgence and self-righteousness than with this certain quality of spirit. And this I find … to be so tragic and to be so heartbreaking.
Brother Anthony of the Cross
— For the latest installment of the ongoing story, The Mystic Realms of Shadow Fox, just click … https://greyfriarsabbey.wordpress.com/the-mystic-reams-of-shadow-fox/ … The installments are separated by ********* with the latest being at the end (obviously).