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Sacred Signs
by Romano Guardini

WALKING



WALKING,--how many people know how to walk? It is not hurrying

along at a kind of run, or shuffling along at a snail's pace, but

a composed and firm forward movement. There is spring in the

tread of a good walker. He lifts, not drags, his heels. He is

straight, not stoop-shouldered, and his steps are sure and even.



There is something uncommonly fine in the right kind of walking.

It is a combination of freedom and discipline. It is poised, as

if the walker were carrying a weight, yet proceeds with

unhampered energy. In a man's walk there is a suggestion of

bearing arms or burdens; in a woman's an attractive grace that

reflects an inner world of peace.



And when the occasion is religious, what a beautiful thing

walking can be! It is a genuine act of divine worship. Merely to

walk into a church in reverent awareness that we are entering the

house of the Most High, and in a special manner into his

presence, may be "to walk before the Lord." Walking in a

religious procession ought not to be what so often it is, pushing

along out of step and staring about. To escort the Blessed

Sacrament through the city streets, or through the fields, "his

own possession," the men marching like soldiers, the married

women in the dignity of motherhood, the young girls in the

innocent charm of youth, the young men in their restrained

strength, all praying in their hearts, should be a sight of

festive gladness.



A penitential procession should be supplication in visible form.

It should embody our guilt, and our desperate need of help, but

also the Christian assurance that overrules them,--that as in man

there is a power that is superior to all his other powers, the

power of his untroubled will, so, above and beyond human guilt

and distress there is the might of the living God.



Walking is the outward mark of man's essential and peculiar

nobility. It is the privilege of man alone to walk erect, his

movement in his own power and choice. The upright carriage

denotes the human being.



But we are more than human beings. We are, as the Bible calls us,

the generation of God. We have been born of God into newness of

life. Profoundly, through the Sacrament of the Altar, Christ

lives in us; his body has passed into the substance of our

bodies; his blood flows in our veins. For "he that eats my flesh

and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him." These are his

words. Christ grows in us, and we grow in him, until being

thoroughly formed by him, we attain to the full stature of Jesus

Christ, and everything we do or are, "whether we eat or sleep, or

whatsoever we do," our work, our recreation, our pleasures and

our pains, are all taken up into the Christ-life.



The consciousness of this mystery should pass in all its joyous

strength and beauty into our very manner of walking. The command

"to walk before the Lord and be perfect" is a profound figure of

speech. We ought both to fulfil the command and illustrate the

figure.



But in sober reality. Beauty of this order is not the product of

mere wishing.














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