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The Eternal Evening


“If you live in the Church and try to use the power of the Church to increase the life of the Church, then the power of the Church will make you yourself whole; and in your wholeness you will help to make your family and make your world. But you will be building for a more than earthly beatitude because you will be building the city which is eternal. Here you build in shadow, you build for a future which is invisible, and so you can only build in hope. And often your plans will be wrecked and your dreams come crashing about your ears, and you will need the strength of the Rock which is Christ to give you patience and fortitude, for often it will be not the wicked who wreck but the good. You build in shadow for the sense of sin will be upon you, and the better you build the more you will see how bad a builder you are. You build in shadow because sometimes the loneliness of sin will come back upon you, and you will want to think God your enemy, you will want to be a master and refuse to be a child. You build in shadow because sometimes God will take from you even what you have built well, even what He has given — and you will feel discarded and forgotten, as Christ felt when He was making the sacrifice of the Cross. But these are just the times when you must build most hardily and with greatest intensity of labor: for these are the times when you will build best.


“If you live in the present you will not despair of the future. It is for God to give the increase. Live in the present, live in the eternity of God, even as you walk the roads…and the fleeting moment, which mocks as it flashes beyond your grasp, will be of infinite importance in itself though its passing will be unimportant, for you will know it as part of the ever-present; and then you will gather up all the shame and the splendor of humanity’s past into the arms of your responsibility, and all the promise and all the disappointment of the future into your cupped hands held out in offering and worship. And when death has come to you, itself a fleeting moment, so unimportant, so infinitely important, the earth will still belong to you and still look to your love and power for its making, and the Church will bless you for the life you have added to it, and there will be men to heed you better than they did when you were here, for ‘what the dead had no speech for, when living, they can tell you, being dead; the communication of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.’


“But you, for your part, will be no longer in the shadow but in the glory of the Light inaccessible; you will be in the City that is yours because you helped to build it; you will see Him at last as He is, and be wholly with Him; and you will have no more any mourning or weeping or any other sorrow, for all these former things will have been transmuted into happiness and peace, and you will walk with Him — together with all those you have helped to bring to Him, even until the end of the world — you will walk with Him in happiness for ever, in the cool of the eternal evening.” (Fr. Gerald Vann, The Heart of Man, ch. 8)

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