“Hence it has come about that the Catholic Church, though ever one and the same in spirit, has shown in the course of the centuries an almost infinite variety of aspects and developments. Though her deepest life is always hid with Christ in God, she has presented mankind with a more impressive pageant of external activity than has any civilization or empire.” (1).
As I became familiar with the Catholic Benedictine monks at St. Leo Abbey and the ancient practices of monastic life, I realized that one of the Catholic Church’s best kept secrets is that “deepest life.”(2). One part of that deepest life in the Church is preserved and treasured in Benedictine monasticism.
In Sunday Vigils (part of the divine office), I always enjoy reading this ending part of Psalm 27 (26) from the Grail translation:
I am thankful for the Catholic Church — beyond any doctrine I may know, the strength of the Church continues to live in its deepest truth — hid in Christ. In a life hid with Christ we can live in greatest hope.
“13 I am sure I shall see the Lord's goodness in the land of the living.
14 Hope in him, hold firm and take heart.
Hope in the Lord!”
Picture is "Vatican" by slava.
(1) The quote from Knowles comes from the following passage:
“ALTHOUGH Christianity is essentially a religion of the spirit, it has always maintained the closest touch with the material world. Though its truths are eternal and unchangeable, they were revealed to the world at a definite moment of time, they have been understood more perfectly in this age than in that, and they have influenced in different ways different races and generations of men. Hence it has come about that the Catholic Church, though ever one and the same in spirit, has shown in the course of the centuries an almost infinite variety of aspects and developments. Though her deepest life is always hid with Christ in God, she has presented mankind with a more impressive pageant of external activity than has any civilization or empire. Even the most hostile minds have acknowledged the fascination of such a spectacle to one who looks back over the ages.”Above quote from "The Benedictines," A Digest for Moderns, By Dom David Knowles, Second Edition, page ix. Forward by Marion R. Bowman, O.S.B.Abbot of Saint Leo Abbey, The Abbey Press, Saint Leo, Florida, 1962
Online version (but this online version omits chapters 5 and 6, the last two chapters).
(2) Knowles’ reference to being hid with Christ in God may be to this great passage from Colossians 3:1-17, in which we might also see the hidden elements of monastic life:
“Therefore, if you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above; where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God: Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth. For you are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, who is your life, then you also shall appear with him in glory.
“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, lust, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is the service of idols. For which things the wrath of God cometh upon the children of unbelief, In which you also walked some time, when you lived in them. But now put you also all away: anger, indignation, malice, blasphemy, filthy speech out of your mouth. Lie not one to another: stripping yourselves of the old man with his deeds, And putting on the new, him who is renewed unto knowledge, according to the image of him that created him. Where there is neither Gentile nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free. But Christ is all, and in all.
“Put ye on therefore, as the elect of God, holy, and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience: Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against another: even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so do you also. But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection: And let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body: and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly, in all wisdom: teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your hearts to God. All whatsoever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”