Natus in Via
Born on the Way 

Sept. 7, 2020

The Eternal Word of Joy


Thy Words were found, and I ate them,
and Thy Word became to me a Joy
and the rejoicing of my heart;
For I am called by Thy Name,
O Lord, God of Hosts.

Jeremiah 15:16


For several weeks, I have been given a gift to learn Italian, in Italy. I am grateful for this, and I thank God and you for the opportunity and the grace to do so in Assisi. My presence (presents?) also include the videos and pictures that I have and will be taking – and sharing! – over a long period of time. Hence, the vlog/blog, Natus in Via, which is Latin for Born on the Way.

Learning a new language is a joy, even as it has its particular difficulty. Within the process, is the absolute necessity to humble oneself before another person, to be teachable. To be “successful,” to become greater, we have to realize our limitations, to accept and to admit them. For example, when one starts a language, one has to resist the temptation to simply substitute one’s own concepts and known words (ie, English and its forms and outlook).

Overcoming two extremes is a hardship, often found in the same person: a sense of timidity or desire not to say it wrong in order to be accepted; and/or the strange desire to assert one is saying it ‘right’ (for example, just talking louder or slower in one’s own language to a person who by all indications does not understand). Piano, piano as they say in Italian; slowly it becomes easier and we are naturally affirmed that we understand and can communicate.

A particular source of meditation has been the difficulty of translating the very name of our Community – Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word. Franciscan & Missionaries makes sense – that part is easy. Eternal is a vast concept, but on its own it is manageable (perhaps too easily accepted, or understood in a limited fashion). Initially, the understanding of “Eternal Word” is as in 1 Peter 1:25, when the Word of God says, “The Word of the Lord endures forever”, and the Eternal Word Himself said, “My Words will not pass away” (Mt 24:35). But that leaves us, so to speak, in creation, which will pass away, or better, be renewed totally in the end. What we speak is the Eternal Word, in His Divine existence, Who – yes! – took upon Himself, in time, the frailty of our human condition. The Eternal Word united in His Divine Person, Who is Word & Son, humanity.

Last weekend, I was able to visit Florence with its many wonders of art. It is a meditation upon the best of expressions to depict what is beautiful and divine. Sometimes, it is hard to remember that God is even more beautiful than we might imagine; thanks be to God He became flesh and we have seen Him (cf. Jn 1:14). The good we have in Him, the beauty of grace, is a gift for eternal joy. Indeed, He Himself is our Joy; to be near Him bears the fruit of Joy. And this is a Word which is easy and light, but may be difficult in the living out of His words: to love Him by keeping His Commandments, to serve, to take up one’s Cross daily, to be poor in Spirit. This is a new joy, an unusual one to the eyes of the flesh and the world. It is a new language of love and care, with a view towards the Eternal.

[Cover Image: Detail of Adoration of the Magi by Domenico Ghirlandaio at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence]


Fr. Paschal Mary, MFVA



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