So, we’ve arrived at the end of the book, and, since the final chapter is entitled “Living the Mystery”, it would be easy to think that Father Andrew would wind things up with some practical pointers about how to incorporate into our lives all of the stuff in the previous 131 pages. However, that’s not what happens: in the first few pages of the chapter there is a helpful review of much of the ground that has been covered, but then Father Andrew uses that review as a springboard to revisit the issue with which he begins the book: the division, the separation that we all experience in ourselves.
But in this final chapter, Father Andrew comes at that division in a slightly different way: He examines the irony that when we try to rationally explain to others some of the things that are most important to us—like our faith in the Most Holy Trinity—we never, ever seem to be able to capture exactly what it is that makes those things so important. During this examination, he draws on Baron von Hugel and Cardinal John Henry Newman and Iris Murdoch, and a lot of that material will appear pretty dense, and you may end up wondering what it has to do with your day to day life. But please persevere with it because what you will discover through this discussion is the reason(s) why it just doesn’t work to try and explain certain things to people. Notice: It’s not because we’re stupid. It’s not because we lack the necessary intellectual equipment to present the Faith properly to other folks. It’s because some things—actually, the most important things—cannot be presented through reason alone.
That has all sorts of implications for how we present the Faith to others and what our outreach/evangelism should look like and where we should be putting our time and energy. If the conclusions that Father Andrew reaches are valid—that the basic problem for folks in the West is not doubt, but a lack of wonder—then what is it that we can do which will provide our friends and neighbors and co-workers and loved ones with the opportunity to wonder?
Father Andrew’s brief answer is a holy life. His solution is to produce more saints. Because the presence of holiness is something that elicits wonder. But that answer/solution just moves the question back a bit: What are we doing to raise up holy people?
That’s just one of the many, many questions that we will tackle when we get together for the Pascha Book Study. We will start meeting during Bright Week on Wed, April 11 (with sessions at the parish and at Georgetown and at Killeen), and I hope to see a whole lot of you there.