FANTASY OR SACRED DUTY
In his interesting book, “Man the Unknown,” Alexis Carrel makes this statement:
“Each individual is set by the conditions of his development upon the road which will lead him either to the solitary mountains or to the mud of the swamps where humanity contents itself.”
If not rightly understood, this statement might imply that, by a sort of pre-established harmony over which we have no control, we are inevitably directed in spite of ourselves either toward the heights or toward the lowlands.
It could be that because of inherited tendencies, family traditions, examples we may have witnessed, or the training we have received, we are more strongly drawn either to laziness or to generosity. However, everyone has the duty on his own responsibility to make himself what he ought to be.
The problem of salvation and the degree of sanctity to be attained is essentially an individual problem. We save ourselves or we damn ourselves; we conquer ourselves or we let ourselves be conquered–these are all personal verbs.
“Everyone has the duty,” that is the reality. It is not a matter of satisfying a fantasy, a more or less poetic taste for the heights. So much the better if the heights tempt me! So much the worse for me if I am the prey of a positive spirit of low ideals.
I do not have to strive for the Christian ideal simply because of a certain forceful subjective attraction. No, I have an obligation to strive for it and this obligation springs from the Gospel command, a command given to all, Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Am I perhaps too much in the habit of seeing in the Gospel only the restrictions it imposes upon me? Of viewing religion from the negative side? I must accustom myself to consider the Gospel from the positive aspect–the call to sanctity. The capital problem for the Christian who wants to be a real Christian is not the problem of sin but the problem of perfection.
Not to fall back!
Much more and much better–to rise.
In the “Journal of Salavin” by George Duhamel, Salavin laments in self-disgust, “How can one resign himself to being only what one is and how try to be other than what one is.” Then he declares:
“After some indefinite time, I am going to go away.”
“And where are you going?”
Evading–when it should be a matter of ascending.
For me as a Christian, the road is known. I know where to go. And the instructions are clear. Someone expressed them in three points:
- To commit this year the least number of sins possible.
- To acquire this year the most virtues possible.
- To do to others the most good possible.
Here is a program that will not only avoid the abyss but lead to the heights.
MY PERSONAL VOCATION
Nothing is more interesting and at the same time more stirring than to study my particular role in the eternal destinies of the world . . . what God from all eternity has planned for me . . . what kind of saint He wants me to be . . . by what combination and sequence of circumstances He established me where I am . . . all He has given me–a Christian country, a Christian family, a Christian education, numberless graces exterior as well as interior, the Sacraments, interior inspirations, invitations to mount spiritually–and then to discover in what degree He intends to use me to lead other souls to salvation and perfection.
Religion in spirit and in truth–what is it? It consists in participating in the very sanctity of God Himself in my own personal life, and in cooperating with God to bring grace into the lives of others and to help keep them to grow in the divine life.
There is no question then of eternity forcing its way into my existence without my opening the door to it; it permeates me from within in keeping with the freedom I give it.
Nor must I be aiming only at my own sanctification. I have the responsibility of souls, not only the souls of my own but of multitudes who are in some way connected with my soul. The salvation of the world depends in part on the saint that I become.
One author puts this thought very well. “Each being in the universe must act with the consciousness of having been chosen for a task that he alone can accomplish. As soon as he discovers what this task is and he begins to dedicate himself to it, he can be sure that God is with him and that He watches over him. Let him be full of confidence and joy! He is associated with the work of creation.”
And we might add “with the work of redemption.” This ought to be a continual marvel to him that weak and sinful though he knows himself to be he is nonetheless called, unquestionably called, to an action of unique value, to the exaltation of the divine in himself and the propagation and the extension of the divine in humanity!
I ought to try to realize ever more deeply the tremendous significance of my personal vocation; to consider the degree and the kind of sanctity to which I am called; to measure the extent of the field where my zeal for souls is to labor–the family, the parish, the city….
Everything in my life should be referred to God. As Saint Augustine said, “Totum exigit te qui fecit te, He from whom you received all things demands all.” I must therefore make the gifts He bestowed on me serve for His glory alone. I should not deny these gifts, nor store them away; on the contrary, I should exploit them, but for Him.
To quote Saint Augustine again, “Let everything useful that I learned as a child be consecrated to Your service, O my God. Let it be for Your service that I speak, that I read, that I write, that I count!”
He did not renounce the use of his mind, the exercise of his intelligence, the application of his profane sciences but he subordinated all to spreading the glory of God and extending his apostolate for souls.
I can be inspired to a like rule of life. I can use human gifts as well as divine gifts to attain the highest peak of my vocation. I am not what my neighbor is and my neighbor is not what I am. I have a role to fill and no one else but me can fill it.
I must know my capital and prudently determine my investments.
There is a difference between disobedience and “not paying attention,” and it’s very easy to fall into this trap and hand out punishment when it really isn’t due. Disobedience is a form of rebellion. Not paying attention is a very human weakness (which, I grant you, needs correction, but doesn’t belong in this class). -Mary Reed Newland, How to Raise Good Catholic Children
Here is a simple outline to ensure we are carrying out our daily duties as best we can on this road we travel as Catholic women. This is my own list of what I deem the basics of a successful day. It is an ideal I strive for. You may have your own plan, and I hope you do. If this can help in any way, then I have accomplished my goal with this video.
Beautiful Our Lady Wire Wrapped Rosary! Lovely, Durable. Each link is handmade and wrapped around itself to ensure quality. Available here.
The first of Ronald Knox’s three “Slow Motion” collections, The Mass in Slow Motion comprises fourteen sermons preached during World War II to the students of the Assumption Sisters at Aldenham Park. Modest yet arresting in style, Knox explains the Mass from the opening psalm to the solemn words of conclusion: Ite missa est. While the liturgy Knox contemplates is that of the Tridentine Rite, the abundant fruits of his contemplation can be easily translated to the Ordinary Form of the present day. Indeed, their primary impetus is the powerful portrayal of the continuous action of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in which formula yields to mystery and man participates in his own salvation.
Along with its “Slow Motion” companions, The Mass in Slow Motion proved the most popular of Knox’s writings. Evelyn Waugh called it “the ideal present for a convert of any age or intellectual equipment.” More than seventy years since it first appeared in print, the truth of these words holds fast: The Mass in Slow Motion is sure to assist any Catholic—let alone any convert—to more worthily and wisely go up to the altar of the Lord.
To trust in God’s will is the “secret of happiness and content,” the one sure-fire way to attain serenity in this world and salvation in the next. Trustful Surrender simply and clearly answers questions that many Christians have regarding God’s will, the existence of evil, and the practice of trustful surrender, such as:
- How can God will or allow evil? (pg. 11)
- Why does God allow bad things to happen to innocent people? (pg. 23)
- Why does God appear not to answer our prayers? (pg. 107)
- What is Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence? (pg. 85) and many more…
This enriching classic will lay to rest many doubts and fears, and open the door to peace and acceptance of God’s will. TAN’s pocket-sized edition helps you to carry it wherever you go, to constantly remind yourself that God is guarding you, and He does not send you any joy too great to bear or any trial too difficult to overcome.
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