Thursday, November 09, 2006

Being a saint...

is not for the weak or fearful.
--Pope Benedict XVI

A new commandment Christ has given us: Do not be afraid! This call to fearlessness is especially relevant today because the fear we face is so subtle. In other ages, Christians were faced with public persecution and possible martyrdom. There were many who fell away because of this, but it was a dishonorable thing, even in the eyes of pagans. Thus, many ended up returning as penitents. What's more, those who went ahead and suffered also did so in a very public way and thus proclaimed the gospel.

Today we probably fear more either the scorn of public opinion or even of friends, if we dare to speak up in defense of the faith. Being 'unhip' and consigned to the company of the uncool is the epitome of the descent into Sheol for many today. On the other side, the faithful remnant exude fear that the Church and the Faith are constantly under siege from without and enduring treachery within. In the former case, fear prevents faith from taking root, in the latter, it prevents it from blossoming into joyful charity.

Much is made of the universal call to holiness, and it is a beautiful and necessary teaching to come from the Holy Spirit via Vatican II. Too often, we ease up on ourselves and interpret this as what I like to call the "Universal Declaration of Holiness." In other words, we call whatever we like holy and equate it with true religion. What God is asking of us is much more demanding, though He asks it out of true love for us and desiring our friendship. Be holy as God is holy. This will mean, one way or another, encountering the Cross of Christ. Do not be afraid! Take it up and become a saint! Therein lies the road to the renewal of Holy Mother Church. Therein lies the road to true happiness and eternal life (to paraphrase the Holy Father again). Let us not settle for the coutnerfeit happiness and holiness of human approval nor for anxious fear in the face of the unknown. Whatever is unknown, we have a greater truth that is known and needs to be heard. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and has defeated death. Why be afraid?

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This blog is published with ecclesiastical approval.

If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
preach the Word of God, If I do something against the discipline of the Church
and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.

Origen of Alexandria
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