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Newsletter - Christmas 2006, Vol. 23, No. 2

By Hermit Sister M. Beverly

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth...God said, “Let there be light, and there was light. God saw how good the light was.” (Gen. 1:1-4) The words of the opening lines of the first book of Scripture, proclaim in utter simplicity that God SPOKE and caused TO BE. God created through a word. Only God can create out of nothing. What He created came out of His own inner life full of love, harmony, order, beauty and rationality. As He Himself said, what He creates is good, because nature reflects His own goodness. In the case of human beings, “made in the image and likeness of God,” the crown of creation, God saw that they were very good. (Gen. 1:26-31)
At Marymount Hermitage for Christmas, we have the tradition of placing, under the altar, the Bible open to St. John's Gospel beside the infant Jesus.

The opening lines of the Gospel of John allude to the Genesis account and is a further amplification of it. “In the beginning was the Word; the Word was in God’s presence, and the Word was God. He was present to God in the beginning. Through him, all things came into being and apart from him nothing came to be.” (Jn 1:1-3) John is making the bold proclamation that God created through THE Word, his only-begotten Son. In Greek, “logos” is variously used to mean: “word, saying, message, teaching, talk, conversation, account, reason, grounds, and book.” Most often, “logos” is “word” and, in St. John’s Gospel, THE WORD refers to Jesus Christ.
In the time St. John was writing, the Greek language, culture and philosophy permeated the Mediterranean world. “Logos” could and often did refer to “reason,” the life of the human mind, rational thought. The Greeks held reason in highest esteem. Philosophy presupposed that human beings sought life in knowing the truth, in arriving at wisdom. Hence, for John, as a Jew, to say “the Logos/Reason became a man” (Jn. 1:14), was a shock to both Jews and Greeks in his day.

Jews for thousands of years had preserved, at the cost of great suffering in an idolatrous, polytheistic world, the belief in the one Supreme God. God was the all-powerful Spirit, who was totally transcendent. How could THAT God become a human being, and a vulnerable, weak baby at that? God become “Emmanuel, God-with-us”? God as imminent? Blasphemy! To the Greeks, to hear that the “Logos/ Reason,” descended from the realm of the eternal mind, immortal ideals, transcendent truths, and became “flesh,” became an earthly man?... Unthinkable! So to both Jew and Greek, “the Word became flesh” was a totally shocking and novel revelation. The burning question was: Is this true? Conversion came from accepting the Christian faith, affirming that “Yes, this IS true.”

This phrase is so familiar to us as Catholic-Christians, because we say it at Mass every Sunday in the Nicene Creed. We pray it daily in the rosary in the words of the Apostle’s Creed and the Hail Mary. It is hard for us to experience what an emotional earthquake this variously translated statement is: “the Word became flesh”... “the Logos became a man”... “the Word built his tent among us”... “the Logos tabernacled among us”... for these are all accurate renderings. (Jn. 1:14)

Now, since the miracle of the Incarnation, the creative, loving Word of God is a man and his name is Jesus Christ. Human persons, who image the Divine Persons of the Trinity, have the gifts that make us like God: human reason, free will and an immortal soul. Our minds are made to seek the truth. If our minds seek only knowledge, without faith, we will be without wisdom. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have said and written on numerous occasions, that we need faith and reason to live a fully human life. Faith and reason must be integrated, so that we have the wisdom to discern the truth about Jesus Christ. A fully human life means putting our faith into practice.

This Christmas, as we meditate upon the nativity scene, let us ask the Holy Spirit to enkindle in us a greater respect for reason, which is the life of the mind, and a greater gratitude for our faith, which is the life of the soul. As St. Irenaeus said, “the glory of God is man fully alive.”

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only-begotten Son from the Father...and from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace.” (Jn. 1:14-16)

Dear Friends,

Sister Rebecca Mary and I wish you a joyous and holy Christmas and New Year, 2007. As our gift, in gratitude for your charity to us, we are having a novena of Masses offered for you and your intentions during the Christmas season by Father Arsenius, a newly ordained hermit in LaPine, Oregon.

We ask your prayers for the intention that we find a resident chaplain. This is the first year in all 22 years of our life here that we have not had Mass offered in our chapel on Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Also please pray for faith-filled, young women, who will share our vocation of silence and solitude in prayer for the sake of the Church and the world.

With our love,

Your Hermit Sisters

MARYMOUNT HERMITAGE NEWSLETTER is published by Marymount Hermitage, Inc., a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation in the State of Idaho. The Hermit Sisters of Mary are a canonically approved Catholic community of women hermits following the Rule of St. Benedict. The newsletter is normally published three times a year and is free. The newsletter is sent to our relatives, friends and benefactors so that we might share the spirituality and material progress of Marymount Hermitage. Please pray that we may be faithful to our way of life in prayer and penance, solitude and silence. Any donations to Marymount Hermitage are sincerely appreciated and are tax-deductible.

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