DAILY CATHOLIC MONDAY February 15, 1999 vol. 10, no. 31
Pat Ludwa's VIEW FROM THE PEW
To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO and SECTION THREE
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:
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)
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"
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?
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
VIEW FROM THE PEW