Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Love Sacrifice, Love the Cross, Love Pain." Seriously?

Today is the feast of St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei.

Although I am not now nor ever have been a member of Opus Dei, I'm definitely a fan (both of Opus Dei and its founder).

When looking at some of St. Josemaria's writings a few years ago, I came across this counsel:

Love sacrifice; it is a fountain of interior life. Love the Cross, which is an altar of sacrifice. Love pain, until you drink, as Christ did, the very dregs of the chalice.

This is one of those pieces of advice that illustrates with absolutely clarity why, in the midst of our world, really and truly following Our Lord Jesus Christ is the ultimate alternative lifestyle — and, yea, the only one worth living.

As shocking as it sounds, we are indeed called to love sacrifice, to love pain — in short, to love suffering — for in doing so, we unite ourselves to Jesus.

Let's be honest: the notion that we should not only tolerate suffering but actually embrace it and love it sounds, well, crazy. And not just crazy, mind you, but ├╝ber-crazy.

That is, until we remind ourselves about that whole "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me" thing.

Jesus loved; so too must we love if we want to be like Him.

Jesus served; so too must we serve if we want to be like Him.

Jesus suffered pain and humiliation; so too must we suffer pain and humiliation if we want to be like Him.

When I first read those words of St. Josemaria, they particularly struck me because I had just recently finished reading The Soul of the Apostolate. Therein, the author, Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard, lists nine "levels" of the interior life, ranging from "hardened in sin" to "complete sanctity". The latter, he says, have an "ardent thirst for sufferings and humiliations".

At this point in my life, I cannot say I have an ardent thirst for sufferings and humiliations. But, please God, some day I will.

And, please God, some day we all will.

Monday, April 2, 2012

"I Cannot Worship a Guy I Can Beat Up"

A while back, Mark Shea drew attention to some remarks by Pastor Mark "High Octane Calvinism" Driscoll of Seattle's Mars Hills Church:

In Revelation (the last book of the New Testament), Jesus is a prize-fighter with a tattoo down His leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is the guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.

Shea remarked: "I’m sure the guards in charge of the scourging at the pillar felt the same way. Surely, the measure of our worship is 'Can I beat up Jesus?'"

His comment prompted me to recall this ancient Eastern icon:

Its name? Christ the Bridegroom.

Think about that for a minute, especially in light of the Events we are preparing to commemorate this week.

Like most men on their wedding day, I went to great lengths to look my best.

And yet, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ — the Bridegroom of bridegrooms — is here shown with His hands bound, stripped half naked, having just been mercilessly scourged and crowned with thorns, and as a result so weak that He can't even hold His head up straight.

Yes, Christ the Bridegroom, for just a few hours later He would perform the ultimate act of self-sacrificial love for His Bride the Church — read: us — by laying down His very life for her.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It's All about ME!

In 1908, G. K. Chesterton was one of several prominent writer of his day who was asked by the London Times to write an essay on the theme, "What's Wrong with the World?"

In response, Chesterton wrote a letter:

Dear Sirs,

I am.

Sincerely yours,
G. K. Chesterton

Would that all of us were so honest.

We are ever so imperfect, weak, and broken, and so many of the things we say and do are — not to put too find a point on it — wrong, and thus we are are in need of a Redeemer.

Today is the day we have ashes placed on our foreheads and hear the words: "Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return."

What a striking contrast between this quintessential memento mori and the contemporary "I'm OK, You're OK, Everyone is OK" Zeitgeist, in which self-approbation and embracing of one’s own foibles are to be esteemed, and acknowledgment of personal sin is to be shunned at all costs.

As we begin Lent, we would do well to remind ourselves that he who fails to accuse himself of sin and seek forgiveness does so at his own peril.

What's wrong with the world?

I am.