I Love …

St. Josemaría Escrivá. While he had been on my radar of saints since shortly after my return to the Church, I had not read much about him or by him until 2009 ,when Joshua was preparing for the (in my honest opinion one of the best) Confirmation Retreat for the youth of our old parish. My job was to type up  passages from some of  St. Josemaría Escrivá’s writings. As I typed, I was amazed with what St. Josemaría said and the simple way he put things.

Soon after that, I found out a priest from Opus Dei came to Worthington, Ohio, once a month, to give an Evening of Recollection for men and a  Morning of Recollection for women. Since we were living in nearby Marion at the time, I made the trek when I could.

I miss those mornings. I miss my confessor and spiritual director. I miss the figurative swift kick in the pants I received from him each month, the gentle chastisement to do what I was supposed to do, the gentle, yet firm directions given to be holy.

While I do not have access to an Morning of Recollections here in South Georgia, nor are there any Opus Dei Priests or Parishes near me, I can and do read his writings, often.

Many times, when I have something on my mind, I go to escrivaworks.org, plug in a keyword and, more often then not, St. Josemaria has written on the topic. I read the passage and point my thoughts to heaven. The other evening, I had a few moments by myself, while waiting for a meeting to being, so I pulled out a copy of Christ is Passing By and found this:

“He that dwells in the aid of the Most High, shall abide under the protection of the God of heaven.” This is the risky security of the Christian. We must be convinced that God hears us, that he is concerned about us. If we are, we will feel completely at peace. But living with God is indeed a risky business, for he will not share things: he wants everything. And if we move toward him, it means we must be ready for a new conversion, to take new bearings, to listen more attentively to his inspirations — those holy desires that he provokes in every soul — and to put them into practice.

Since our first conscious decision really to follow the teaching of Christ, we have no doubt made good progress along the way of faithfulness to his word. And yet isn’t it true that there is still much to be done? Isn’t it true, particularly, that there is still so much pride in us? We need, most probably, to change again, to be more loyal and humble, so that we become less selfish and let Christ grow in us, for “He must become more and more, I must become less and less.”

We cannot stay still. We must keep going ahead toward the goal St Paul marks out: “It is not I who live, it is Christ that lives in me.” This is a high and very noble ambition, this identification with Christ, this holiness. But there is no other way if we are to be consistent with the divine life God has sown in our souls in baptism. To advance we must progress in holiness. Shying away from holiness implies refusing our christian life its natural growth. The fire of God’s love needs to be fed. It must grow each day, gathering strength in our soul; and a fire is maintained by burning more things. If we don’t feed it, it may die.

Remember what St Augustine said: “If you say ‘enough,’ you are lost. Go further, keep going. Don’t stay in the same place, don’t go back, don’t go off the road.” Lent should suggest to us these basic questions: Am I advancing in my faithfulness to Christ, in my desire for holiness, in a generous apostolate in my daily life, in my ordinary work among my colleagues?

Each one of us, silently, should answer these questions, and he will see that he needs to change again if Christ is to live in him, if Jesus’ image is to be reflected clearly in his behaviour. “If any man has a mind to come my way, let him renounce self, and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Christ is saying this again, to us, whispering it in our ears: the cross each day. As St Jerome puts it: “Not only in time of persecution or when we have the chance of martyrdom, but in all circumstances, in everything we do and think, in everything we say, let us deny what we used to be and let us confess what we now are, reborn as we have been in Christ.”

It’s an echo of St Paul’s words: “Once you were all darkness. Now, in the Lord, you are all daylight. You must live as children of the light. Where light has its effect, men walk in all goodness, holiness and truth, seeking those things which please God.”

Conversion is the task of a moment; sanctification is the work of a lifetime. The divine seed of charity, which God has sown in our souls, wants to grow, to express itself in action, to yield results which continually coincide with what God wants. Therefore, we must be ready to begin again, to find again — in new situations — the light and the stimulus of our first conversion. And that is why we must prepare with a deep examination of conscience, asking our Lord for his help, so that we’ll know him and ourselves better. If we want to be converted again, there’s no other way.

St. Josemaría Escrivá  Christ is passing by/ The conversion of the children of God /Number 58

Happy Lent, everyone!

“He that dwells in the aid of the Most High, shall abide under the protection of the God of heaven.” This is the risky security of the Christian. We must be convinced that God hears us, that he is concerned about us. If we are, we will feel completely at peace. But living with God is indeed a risky business, for he will not share things: he wants everything. And if we move toward him, it means we must be ready for a new conversion, to take new bearings, to listen more attentively to his inspirations — those holy desires that he provokes in every soul — and to put them into practice.

Since our first conscious decision really to follow the teaching of Christ, we have no doubt made good progress along the way of faithfulness to his word. And yet isn’t it true that there is still much to be done? Isn’t it true, particularly, that there is still so much pride in us? We need, most probably, to change again, to be more loyal and humble, so that we become less selfish and let Christ grow in us, for “He must become more and more, I must become less and less.”

We cannot stay still. We must keep going ahead toward the goal St Paul marks out: “It is not I who live, it is Christ that lives in me.” This is a high and very noble ambition, this identification with Christ, this holiness. But there is no other way if we are to be consistent with the divine life God has sown in our souls in baptism. To advance we must progress in holiness. Shying away from holiness implies refusing our christian life its natural growth. The fire of God’s love needs to be fed. It must grow each day, gathering strength in our soul; and a fire is maintained by burning more things. If we don’t feed it, it may die.

Remember what St Augustine said: “If you say ‘enough,’ you are lost. Go further, keep going. Don’t stay in the same place, don’t go back, don’t go off the road.” Lent should suggest to us these basic questions: Am I advancing in my faithfulness to Christ, in my desire for holiness, in a generous apostolate in my daily life, in my ordinary work among my colleagues?

Each one of us, silently, should answer these questions, and he will see that he needs to change again if Christ is to live in him, if Jesus’ image is to be reflected clearly in his behaviour. “If any man has a mind to come my way, let him renounce self, and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Christ is saying this again, to us, whispering it in our ears: the cross each day. As St Jerome puts it: “Not only in time of persecution or when we have the chance of martyrdom, but in all circumstances, in everything we do and think, in everything we say, let us deny what we used to be and let us confess what we now are, reborn as we have been in Christ.”

It’s an echo of St Paul’s words: “Once you were all darkness. Now, in the Lord, you are all daylight. You must live as children of the light. Where light has its effect, men walk in all goodness, holiness and truth, seeking those things which please God.”

Conversion is the task of a moment; sanctification is the work of a lifetime. The divine seed of charity, which God has sown in our souls, wants to grow, to express itself in action, to yield results which continually coincide with what God wants. Therefore, we must be ready to begin again, to find again — in new situations — the light and the stimulus of our first conversion. And that is why we must prepare with a deep examination of conscience, asking our Lord for his help, so that we’ll know him and ourselves better. If we want to be converted again, there’s no other way.

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