Monday, August 27, 2007

Time of Recollection

"The bridegroom is on his way; go out and meet him" (Matt 25:6).

There is but one way to sanctity, whether we call it the royal road of the cross, the princely way of the resurrection, or the little way of interior childhood. For some the cross is great, for others small; for some it is exterior, for others interior; it all comes to the same thing - abandonment of self and surrender to Christ. He himself shows us the road: "The bridegroom is on his way...". St Agnes repeats this lesson in other words: I have seen Him, loved Him, but in too human way. I had first to lose myself by faith before I could embrace him with a love that was divine. Between sight and disinterested love lies a long life of mortification, by which alone faith and pure love are to be reached. "When a man is tempted" says St James, "it is always because he is being drawn away by the lure of his own passions. When that has come about, passions conceives and gives birth to sin (Jas 1:14, 15). The necessity of mortification is born in us. He who thinks he can live without it has no idea of his own innate sinfulness. All that in life is positively good and fair can so absorb us that we imagine that we are no longer subject to its contrary; that is, to the sinful tendencies in our own nature; but a day will come when the God who wills our salvation will show us that they still subsist. The Preacher bids us enjoy life and all it contains, becasue all is a gift of God. Must we follow his advice? Doubtless, but with certain limits. We may taste of what life offers us, but must desire that only which is necessary to our salvation. St Augustine warns us: "Whatever your progress, cupidity still lives in you." We must rule ourselves to the day of our death. Is it not sufficient to take whatever pain God sends us, and to bear it patiently? Our Lord gives us the answer: a master expects his servants to be vigilant. "Blessed are those servants, whom their master will find watching when he comes." (Luke 12:37). A man who is training for the race cannot content himself with taking his ordinary exercise; he will have to take more than the minimum normally required of him. By the way, for the sake of fitness or beauty, to what extend men and women go in the gym or on a diet. But this is not for God, this is to satisfy self-love and in no way could be meritorious. On the other hand are we always generous in keeping fasts or abstinence on prescribed days or in Lent? Lent is such a precious time given us for our sanctification through self-denial, external and internal. As age advances, physical mortifications becomes more difficult; then the accent must be laid on that which is interior, but mortification in one or another must never be neglected.

O Jesus, he who would follow you must first deny himself; then you will give him your cross to carry. Help us to see the cross you are offering, and to receive it, humbly and gratefully, from your hand.

Some fragments taken from "With the Church - Meditations on Topics from Missal and Breviary" by Fr Mathias Goossens OFM