DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     February 15, 1999     vol. 10, no. 31


To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO and SECTION THREE
          Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe. Today, he shares pinpoints the source of true peace and joy - Jesus Christ, affirming it with Scriptural passages and the revelations to Saint Francis of Assisi in proving that, no matter how much it promises, the world cannot measure up to God's Peace.

Perfect Joy with Christ's Peace

          With all the confusion, division, schism's in waiting, etc, plaguing the Church today, it's easy to see why many in the Church are frustrated and long for a return to 'the good ole days'. However, should this be our attitude? No doubt, we need to stand up for the truth, to fight (in a sense) for the truth, and even suffer for the truth. But this 'fight' is done in a manner different from those who follow a different 'gospel'.

          St. Francis of Assisi spoke of 'Perfect Joy' to Brother Bernard. He said that if all the masters of theology, all the prelates and Kings of the world converted and joined the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans), that true perfect joy was not there.

          He went on to say that if we went to the unbelievers, schismatics, apostates, etc. and brought them to the faith, that true perfect joy was not there. Nor was there true perfect joy if we understood all the language of angels and men, could perform miracles (even raising the dead), and all things in Heaven and on earth.

          Needless to say, Brother Bernard was perplexed, where then was this perfect, true joy to be found. And here was what St. Francis said:

      "If they returned from Perugia at night and the door keeper refused them entry, and begging to be allowed in they were insulted, beaten, and thrown out. IF they kept patience, and saw their tribulation as coming from God, then THAT was true perfect joy."

          This takes a little time to see. At first one might think St. Francis is telling us to be door mats for the world. Or that God punishes us for chuckles and grins. But what he is really showing us is total and true self abandonment to the will of God.

          Let me try and give you an example. A soldier is ordered to attack a certain position. Personally, he sees no reason for it, and knows that it probably means his death, but he attacks anyway. Why? Because he may not know the 'bigger picture'. His attack is part of a larger plan, and he 'trusts' his commanders that his 'sacrifice' is for a greater good. If he doesn't, it may well cause the deaths of many others.

          St. Francis de Sales calls it "holy indifference". Not a coldness of heart, or lack of emotion, but rather an 'indifference' to themselves, self immolation, the death of self will and the birth of the will, heart and mind of God in ourselves.

          St. Paul writes; "For the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And He died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised" (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
    " I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2: 20).

          Many want to think they have this 'divine life' within them without dying to themselves. We hear of people speaking of finding the 'god/dess' within. Recall the tempting of the serpent? "But the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil'" (Genesis 3:4-5) It is like Christ knocking at the door of their hearts and being told He's already inside.

          In his "Praise of Virtues", St. Francis of Assisi hails Queen Wisdom, holy Simplicity, holy Poverty, humility, holy Charity, and obedience. "There is no one in the entire world who can possess any one (of them) unless he first dies to himself."

          Our Lord said: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If any one serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves Me, the Father will honor him" (John 12: 24-26). Also see Matthew 10:39; 16:25; Mark 8:35; and Luke 9:24; and 17:33.

          Our Lord was in agony in the garden, yet He said; "Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done" (Luke 22:42). Can we do different? Why do so many say; "Not Thy will be mine be done?"

          In our prayers, especially the one our Lord gave us, we pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy 'will' be done on earth as it is in Heaven." Why do we seem to think that 'our' will is the same as His? Everytime I see a poll about how many Catholics disagree and disregard Church teachings on abortion, artificial contraception, sexuality, etc., I'm reminded of a speech someone once gave, "Only the will of the nation is the will of God." (SS 'motivational' speech)

          Every Mass, we're 'supposed' to give one another the 'sign of peace'. But this peace is the peace of Christ. "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid" (John 14:27)
    "I have said this to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
    "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well" (Matthew 6:25-33).

          I think back often to a line from the movie "Song of Bernadette," which says that we are not promised happiness in this world, only in the next. If we die to ourselves and live for God, we may not be 'happy', but we will know the perfect joy, the peace of Christ.

          Or maybe we will be happy?

      "O Francis, if you want to know My will, you must hate and despise all that which hitherto your body has loved and desired to possess. Once you begin to do this, all that formerly seemed sweet and pleasant to you will become bitter and unbearable; and instead, the things that formerly made you shudder will bring you great sweetness and content." (St. Francis of Assisi; Omnibus of Sources; Legend of the Three Companions; Chap. IV, #11, pg. 900).

          So, when you feel discouraged, upset, sad, for whatever reason. Remember; "In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). May you find perfect joy in the Peace of Christ. A Peace that the world cannot give, nor given as the world gives it.

    Pax Christi, Pat

February 15, 1999       volume 10, no. 31


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