Cooperation of man.
According to the ancient definition, prayer – but also religion – is the ascent (anabasis in Greek) of the soul to God.
One spirit with the Lord. To ascend is to strain and work. And if this effort should come to naught? Who climbs a mountain peak and approaches the light, but the sun remains as far away as you for those who stay in the valley? We are not surprised, then, at the skepticism of many Christians towards the human endeavor. Our works do not save us but by faith, which is a gift, not our merit. This is a famous saying from the Reformation. We humans do not ascend to heaven, but God comes to save us, as we have seen in biblical examples. In ascetic theology, this problem is often presented as a question: what is the value of human powers when it comes to obtaining divine life and grace? If we call human abilities “asceticism” and union with God “mysticism,” the authors ask what the relationship is between the two. History teaches us that the monastic movement has always been important to the history of the Church. But at the same time, historians, Catholics, and non-Catholics alike realize that one of the foundations of monastic life is the belief that there is unity between asceticism and mysticism. The spiritual progress of the spiritual life corresponds to how well one can cooperate with grace. This cooperation of human powers with the Holy Spirit is typically defined in Greek Synergism.” Then grace is no longer grace; it is a gift of God,” some argue.
Do you know the Holy Spirit?
As early as the fourth century, Pseudo-Macarius replies with a simple
but a beautiful example. Human labors are like the labor of a farmer. We know it is not enough to plow and sow. The harvest depends on the sun, the rain on the temperature. Some summers, there is little to harvest, despite great effort. And yet, the “normal” rule remains valid: the more the fields are cultivated, the better the harvest. Thus, we can also speak of a “normal law of grace.” Also, “Do your best, and God will help you!” St. Ignatius of Loyola expressed this principle: “We must work as if everything depended on us, but we must, but we must pray as if everything depended on God.” It is not a contradiction in terms, as it would seem. Grace is undoubtedly a gift of God. But what God gives us is life and action; the Spirit animates the whole man, his heart, mind, and strength. God’s love must meet with active love on man’s part.
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