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The Truth to Which Christ Bears Witness

January 14, 2014 by  
Filed under Anthony Lilles, Truth, Witness

The Truth to Which Christ Bears Witness

“For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37).

for post on truthA Carthusian reflects on these words of the Lord addressed to Pontius Pilate. He believes that these words reveal the most essential secret of Christ's life. He explains:

“It is awesome to discover that he came to bear witness: that is, to confront each of us with a responsibility that he has to assume personally, in the depths of his own conscience. What is my attitude going to be? Jesus does not come to exercise any sort of exterior or interior compulsion. No, the witness he bears calls for a response that comes from the heart, and a commitment, not to a system of ideas, but to a person: to Someone who, in his very being, is a witness to the Truth, the truth which every human heart should be ardently seeking. In the presence of the Son of God, let us ask ourselves what our attitude really is towards this truth to which he is bearing witness before us.”

What is striking about this passage is the awareness of what a personal encounter with the Lord is really all about. For some people, spirituality is about what feels good. For others, it is a system of ideas, an intellectual trip. But genuine faith in Christ always involves a radical desire to encounter Him, a readiness to accept what He reveals, and an openness to generously respond, no matter the personal cost. The monk goes on to describe the dynamism of the Lord:

“Jesus does not exercise his kingship by force, nor by authority, nor by seduction; his sheep follow him freely, because he knows them personally and they know him. It is the same type of knowledge as the mutual knowledge that the Father and the Son have of each other: a knowledge of love.” (The Wound of Love: A Carthusian Miscellany, Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications (1994), pp. 127-128.)

This kind of knowledge is so rare in the world today, and so very needed. It is a knowledge that only prayer and great personal suffering can yield. Yet those who open themselves in faith to Jesus, to his kingship, discover this knowledge to be more precious than life itself. To know that Love is a person, that one is personally awaited by Him, that this Person has held nothing back but given all for your sake – this kind of knowledge changes everything, fills life with purpose and meaning, it is a knowledge that must be acted on and when we live in it, this knowledge transforms the soul into a living icon of hope.

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Editor’s Note: For more of Anthony’s insights on prayer, don’t miss his book, Hidden Mountain Secret Garden, an experience like no other. Anthony has an unusually profound understanding of mystical theology and lives a life of deep prayer. Among his many accomplishments and responsibilities, Dr. Lilles now teaches theology for the Avila Institute.

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Art: Detail of Chemin de croix, église Saint-Symphorien de Pfettisheim, Bas-Rhin, France. Station I. Détail de Pilate et des accusateurs (First Station of the Cross St Symphorien de Pfettisheim, Bas-Rhine, France, Detail of Pilate and the accusers), photographed by Pethrus, 3 February 2012 own work, CCA-SA 3.0 Unported, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Anthony Lilles

Anthony Lilles, a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, completed his graduate and post-graduate studies in Rome at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas. He and his lovely wife, Agnes, are blessed with three children and live in California, where he is the Academic Dean, and Associate Professor of Theology, St. John's Seminary, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and Academic Advisor at Juan Diego House, House of Formation for Seminarians. For over twenty years, Dr. Lilles worked for the Denver Archdiocese directing parish religious education, R.C.I.A. and youth ministry, as well as serving as Director of the Office of Liturgy for the Archdiocese and as Coordinator of Spiritual Formation for the permanent diaconate. In 1999, he became a founding faculty member of St. John Vianney Theological Seminary where he was Academic Dean for nine years and Associate Professor of Theology. He is a Board Member for the Society of Catholic Liturgy. Dr. Lilles has provided graduate level courses on a variety of topics including the Eucharist, the Sacraments of Healing, Church History, Spiritual Theology, Spiritual Direction and on various classics of Catholic Spirituality. His expertise is in the spiritual doctrine of Saint Elisabeth of the Trinity and the Carmelite Doctors of the Church: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and St. Thérèse of Lisieux. In 2012, Discerning Hearts published his book "Hidden Mountain, Secret Garden: A Theological Contemplation on Prayer," a compilation of discussions with seminarians, students, and contemplatives about the spiritual life. He collaborated with Dan Burke on the books "30 Days with Teresa of Avila" and "Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux". And, his book "Fire from Above" was published in 2016. Among his many accomplishments and responsibilities, Dr. Lilles now teaches theology for the Avila Institute. He blogs at BeginningtoPray.blogspot.com

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  • patricia

    This is a great post in setting our frames of thoughts according to the heart of Christ. Sometimes what Christ reveals we do not want to see but having faith and knowing his love and mercy it is for our good his will our salvation and sanctification. Thanks for sharing Dr. Lilles see you in class

  • MaryofSharon

    Anthony, I had hoped that at some point you would speak about what you think Pope Francis means by the “encounter” with Christ to which he so frequently refers, and I think this post gives a great introduction to it. It offers a framework in which one can understand why it could appear that the Holy Father is downplaying moral law, etc. Deeper conversion, in which one wants nothing more than to submit his entire being to the will of God, including His moral laws, comes from that encounter. I’d be happy to hear your take on some of what the pope has said about this encounter and how to dispose ourselves to it.

  • Now, how does his old gal respond to Jesus?. Since He died such a horrible, agonizing death to save my miserable, sin scarred soul, all I can do is surrender myself to Him; my life, my loved ones, my self-loving heart, my unpredictable moods and feelings, my confusions, my doubts of myself and everything else. Follow the Guidance He has given me by being faithful to my Rule of Spiritual Life, my Sacramental Life and the Service into which He has called me; to proclaim and spread the Message of His Divine Mercy. Then I leave everything at His Hands.

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