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.