Friday, 20 March 2009
We are crucified to the world
From the Devout Life this morning:
Let us pay no attention to this blind world, Philothea: let it cry out as much as it will, like an owl, to disturb the birds of the day. Let us be firm in our designs, unswerving in our resolutions; perseverance will make it clear whether it be in good earnest that we have sacrificed ourselves to God, and undertaken the devout life. Comets shine with a brightness that is almost equal to that of planets; but comets disappear in a very short time, since they are only transitory fires, whereas planets have a lasting brightness: even so hypocrisy and true virtue are very like one another externally; but the may easily be distinguished from one another, because hypocrisy does not last long, and vanishes like rising smoke, but true virtue is always firm and constant. It is no small help to the consolidation of our devotion in the beginning, if we meet with blame and with calumny on this account; for by this means we avoid the danger of vanity and pride, which are like the midwives of Egypt, to whom Pharoah gave orders that they should kill all the male children of Israel on the very day of their birth. We are crucified to the world, and the world ought to be crucified to us; it holds us to be fools, let us hold it to be mad.
I guess the hardest thing about practising the virtues is the criticism we may receive from others for doing so. St Francis is saying that we should not be worried about how society judges our actions, if we know them to be right and good. He is not saying that we should be awkward or contrary for the sake of it, as if it were our christian duty to get people's backs up. Opposition will no doubt come if we are radically living the Gospel, as it came to Jesus, but we are not looking for it. We are simply trying to get on with what God wants for us at this point in time. And that's not an isolated journey, but is lived in the context of the Church - we need to support each other, and ask each other for advice in discerning God's will.