Sunday, January 29, 2012

"My dear Friends of the Cross..Be be forsaken by men and angels..."

"In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone." - John of the Cross

"Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, 'All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.' At this, Jesus said to him, 'Get away, Satan! It is written: 'The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.'" (Matthew 4: 8-10).

"Matthew and Luke recount three temptations of Jesus that reflect the inner struggle over his own particular mission and, at the same time, address the question as to what truly matters in human life. At the heart of all temptations, as we see here, is the act of pushing God aside because we perceive him as secondary, if not actually superfluous and annoying, in comparison with all the apparently far more urgent matters that fill our lives. Constructing a world by our own lights, without reference to God, building on our own foundation; refusing to acknowledge the reality of anything beyond the political and material, while setting God aside as an illusion - that is the temptation that threatens us in many varied forms." (Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, p. 28).

As Christians who strive to live a holy and authentic life in the Lord Jesus, there is something which becomes immediately apparent as we survey this broken world. And it is this: while as disciples of the Lord we receive the power of God and His gifts which include wisdom and fortitude (courage), often we are hesitant or slow to do good or when we do choose to do good we meet almost constant opposition. By contrast, those who receive the power of the devil appear to be tireless in their activities as they work frenetically to discover new ways of doing evil or deceiving others and everything seems to come to them very easily.

There is an important spiritual lesson here. The world we live in is under the dominion of Satan, the "Prince of this world." When we witness an individual achieve outstanding success without any real setbacks, opposition or persecution, there is a very real possibility that such a person is an adept of the Prince of this world and is receiving his "gifts": "All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me." By contrast, often lack of success and persecution are sure signs that one really stands for God.

In his Letters to the Friends of the Cross [and this would exclude the vast majority even of those who profess to be Christian], St. Louis de Montfort explains how to embrace the Cross and to suffer in the right spirit.  He writes, "My dear Friends of the Cross...Be be forsaken by men and angels, and seemingly by God himself; to be persecuted, envied, betrayed, slandered, discredited and abandoned by everyone; to suffer hunger, thirst, poverty, nakedness, exile, imprisonment, the gallows, and all kinds of torture, even though you have done nothing to deserve it. 

Finally, imagine that you have been deprived of your possessions and your good name, and turned out of your home, like Job and St. Elizabeth of Hungary; that you are thrown into the mire, like St. Elizabeth, or dragged on to the dung heap, like Job, all covered with ulcers, without a bandage for your sores or a piece of bread to eat - something people would not refuse to a horse or a dog.  Imagine that, in addition to all these dreadful misfortunes, God leaves you a prey to every assault of the devil, without imparting to your soul the least feeling of consolation.

You should firmly believe that this is the highest point of heavenly glory and of genuine happiness for the true and perfect Friend of the Cross."  To help us suffer in the right spirit, St. Montfort reminds us that, " a great king from the height of a tower, observes with satisfaction his soldier in the midst of battle, and praises his courage.  What is it that attracts God's attention on earth?  Is it kings and emperors on their thrones?  He often regards them only with contempt.  Is it great victories of armies, precious stones, or whatever is great in the eyes of men?  No, 'what is thought highly of by men is loathsome in the sight of God.' (Luke 16:15).

What, then, does He look upon with pleasure and satisfaction, and about which He inquires of the angels and even the devils?  It is the one who is struggling with the world, the devil, and himself for the love of God, the one who carries his cross cheerfully.  As the Lord said to Satan, 'Did you not see on earth a great wonder, at which all heaven is filled with admiration?  Have you seen my servant Job, who is suffering for my sake?'" (Letters to the Friends of the Cross, Nos 54, 55).

The world loves its own, celebrates its own, promotes its own, listens to its own.  But the world and everything in it is passing away, and much of it will sink into Hell.  By contrast, Friends of the Cross, those who truly love God and who belong to Him, will be hated and despised.  Should this surprise us?  Our Lord has said it: "If you find that the world hates you, know it has hated me before you.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own; the reason it hates you is that you do not belong to the world.  But I chose you out of the world.  Remember what I told you: no slave is greater than his master. They will harry you as they harried me.  They will respect your words as much as they respected mine.  All of this they will do to you because of my name, for they know nothing of him who sent me." (John 15: 18-21).

When the world hates you because of His name, rejoice.  It is not without reason that Our Lord insisted that anyone who aspires to be his follower must deny himself and hate his very life.  And He told us that anyone who loves his life shall lose it and anyone who hates his life shall save it.  The world ignores this truth because it doesn't want to hear it.  It clashes with the gospel of success, the gospel of materialism, of lust and of power.  But as St. Montfort reminds us: "..Our Lord, who is infinite Wisdom, and does not give commandments without a reason, bids us hate ourselves only because we richly deserve to be hated.  Nothing is more worthy of love than God and nothing is more deserving of hatred than self." (True Devotion to Mary, No. 80).

The Church is faced with many dangers today. And the greatest of these dangers lies within ourselves.  If we are to overcome the evil which has poisoned our society, we must first rid ourselves of the evil within. The evil which is rooted in pride and self-importance.  We must learn humility.  We must [properly understood] hate ourselves for the love of God.


Sanctus Belle said...

Dear Paul, this post has given me consolation, thank you.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Sanctus, thank you for your service to the Church and your fidelity to Our Lord and Our Lady.

Anonymous said...

I concecrate myself to Mary and Jesus , and place myself under their mantels and protection help and care.Help me to be a true saint of the end times,disciple of Mary ,and warrior of the traditional Roman Catholic Apostolic faith . Help me to be saved to go toheaven not hell nor purgatory , limbo ,also not to enter shamefully into heaven and get and go to the highest glories of heaven.For me to live the faith fully always show yourself with me all of heaven especially Mary that I may come to God .Please help me not to fall into sin.Give me all the graces,gifts,fruits,and virtues ,blessings to do your work as you will.Please Lord and Mary help me to reach the heights.

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