Daily Thought For November 18, 2014

The Grace of Being Faithful

The first Christians had the custom of speaking of their fellow Christians as the faithful. This terminology came into common use during a period of harsh external difficulties, persecution, campaigns of slander and coercion. The pagan world of that time did its level best to impose its beliefs and practices on the Christian community, yet they remained faithful despite the most grievous consequences. St John records these words in the Book of Revelation: Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. This is the challenge facing Christians of every age: Be faithful unto death. The Evangelist gives this warning from the same passage: Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days. These ten days may be understood to symbolize our time on earth. We do not have a lot of time. When we suffer some contradiction, even some discrimination because of our beliefs, how do we react? Do we firmly resolve to be faithful, no matter what people may say? Pope John Paul II has stated: It is easy to be consistent for a day or two. It is difficult and important to be consistent for one's whole life. It is easy to be consistent in the hour of enthusiasm; it is difficult to be so in the hour of tribulation. And only a consistency that lasts throughout the whole of life can be called faithfulness.

Sometimes the obstacles do not arise from our environment, but rather spring from within our being. Pride is the principal obstacle to fidelity. Next to pride there is lukewarmness, the spiritual disease that robs us of our joy in following Christ. Lukewarmness leads us to 

indulge in ridiculous fantasies. We may suffer from a period of spiritual obscurity or dryness. This problem may arise from our lack of struggle, or it may be God's way of purifying our intention. Whatever the cause may be, the solution will normally lie in humble recourse to spiritual direction and in persevering prayer to the Lord. If we are willing to be led, God will take us by the hand. The Venerable Josemaria Escriva once recalled: One of my most vivid childhood memories is of seeing, up in the mountains near my home, those signposts they planted alongside the hill paths. I was struck by those tall posts usually painted red. It was explained to me then that when the snow fell, covering up everything, paths, seeded fields and pastures, thickets, boulders and ravines, the poles stood out as sure reference points, so that everyone would always know where the road went. 

Something similar happens in the interior life. There are times of spring and summer, but there are also winters, days without sun and nights bereft of moonlight We can't afford to let our friendship with Jesus depend on our moods, on our ups and downs. To do so would imply selfishness and laziness, and is certainly incompatible with love. 

Therefore, in times of wind and snow, a few solid practices of piety, which are not sentimental but firmly rooted and adjusted to one's special circumstances, will serve as the red posts always marking out the way for us, until the time comes when Our Lord decides to make the sun shine again. Then the snows melt and our hearts beat fast once more, burning with a fire that never really went out It was merely hidden in the embers, beneath the ashes produced by a time trial, or by our own poor efforts or lack of sacrifice. 

from In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez Volume 5 pp. 497-498

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