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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Of the Fewness of Those who love the Cross of Jesus

From The Imitation of Christ:

Jesus hath many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of His Cross. He hath many seekers of comfort, but few of tribulation. He findeth many companions of His table, but few of His fasting. All desire to rejoice with Him, few are willing to undergo anything for His sake. Many follow Jesus that they may eat of His loaves, but few that they may drink of the cup of His passion. Many are astonished at His Miracles, few follow after the shame of His Cross. Many love Jesus so long as no adversities happen to them. Many praise Him and bless Him, so long as they receive any comforts from Him. But if Jesus hide Himself and withdraw from them a little while, they fall either into complaining or into too great dejection of mind.

Who could ever love a cross, an instrument of torture? It came to me that "love" is not "a warm feeling of delight" after all. It is an exercise of the will to decide when something has to be done. We will not like the cross, but sometimes, we will want it for what taking it up will accomplish. Perhaps it will actually be for the good of the other.

Should critics of the Church who take themselves too seriously be taken seriously?

By such description, I do mean critics who seem to disparage their subjects with great wit and, as I pictured it, a wink and a smug smile. I didn't make it through the Introduction before noticing such a habit from "Ten Popes who Shook the World." Describing somone as being "of limited intelligence" easily gets me. I would have thought that a highly esteemed scholar would be beyond such things. Not that I'm beyond uncharitable comments and thoughts, either. Pride is perhaps at the root of many sins of mine, some quite habitual. But I'm not a published writer of such works. I am certainly no professor. I probably do lack confidence in conducing myself in many ways, but I don't think I could do with more arrogance. Less, in this case, when offering critiques of another human being, is definitely best.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Neither feared death nor refused to live

It is written of St. Martin of Tours that he neither feared death nor refused to live. While happy to die so as to meet with Christ forever in Heaven, he was willing to continue a life of toil and austerity, and no small amount of pain in his old age. What makes one unafraid of death? Hope, which lends confidence, found in faith, that Christ is at the end of a virtuous life of fidelity; Christ and his promised eternal happiness. What makes one willing to live in continued toil? Love, obliged by the love one has been given by God completely by grace, one might remain to serve those in need even when rest from one's labors is sought and perhaps due. How far am I from such faith, hope and love, whom selfishness and anxiety still rule so frequently in my words, thoughts and actions! May I attain little by little, daily, unto the fearlessness and generous heart of St. Martin of Tours, of Christ my Lord!