Saturday, 10 May 2008

Willing it

Sorry for the gap in posts recently; I'm visiting my parents at home and have had a lot of places to go and people to see.

I thought today I'd write about something a little bit personal. Above is a scene of the crucifixion from Mel Gibson's film 'The Passion of the Christ'. Whenever I watch this film I'm constantly moved by honest account of the suffering that Jesus went through for us. Many people have criticised it saying 'it's too dramatic', 'it's too hard to watch'. Yet, I think it's hard to watch because it challenges us us to change.

I myself find it very hard to believe at times. One minute I long for an intimate union with Christ, the next I wish it was all a bunch of nonsense and that I could go and do whatever I wanted. Yet somehow I know that it's the former thought rather than the latter which will bring peace, but I also know that this is the road which will bring suffering in some form or other.

Just now that suffering is a kind of isolation. I'm alone, in a new place, a new country (i'm not a unionist), and I don't know anyone. In one sense I could go out and meet anyone and do anything and live the way the world does... But I know that won't bring any lasting joy, yet it's hard to keep telling myself .

Maybe that's why so many people find it hard today... Faith that is. It demands so much, yet when the support isn't there, when there is nobody to be Jesus for you, when there is nobody who takes what you believe and to hold true in your life seriously, then temptation comes to just simply assimilate yourself into the world. Yet whenever I think that, I hear the words 'be in the world, but not of the world'.

Maybe that's the result of a well formed conscience, or maybe it's the good old Catholic guilt kicking in (which I would say is a well formed conscience haha)... Either way at times it's what keeps me faithful, and brings me back to repent when I need to repent. But it's also a constant reminder of how easy it would be to jack it all in, and say you know what... I do believe, but to hell with it.

The reason I put the image of Jesus on the cross on this post was for a simple reason. Our lives aren't simply a constant carrying of the cross, our lives are at times a share in the crucifixion. As Christians we are called to live our lives not away from the cross, but on it. To share in all the sufferings and joys that comes with it. Joy might seem a strange term to come to terms with when talking about the cross, but only through the cross are we redeemed.

In many ways when I read how the saints longed for God, I can associate with that. But it seems so distant from my reality that it can seem impossible at times. Although I read once that St Padre Pio would often get annoyed and upset even with God, as he couldn't understand why his faculties had been removed for confessions and public masses. Yet he went on and has become one of the greatest saints in the Church today.

I think what makes the saints extraordinary; it's not that they closed themselves off from the world, they desired and willed union with God. They desired God's will, and yes they found it hard and were tempted, but they went on, they carried on. Very much like Christ who desired the will of His Father and even though He pleaded for the cup to pass, He knew that He must accept the path that had been laid down before Him. That's why I pray at the consecration of the most precious blood, 'Thy will be done'.

Someone once told me a story about St. Thomas Aquinas; some nuns asked St. Thomas to write a book with all the instructions on how to get to Heaven. St Thomas agreed and asked the nuns to provide a book and he would write in the book itself. So the nuns diligently went about the task and bought the most beautiful book, leather bound and with gold leaf on the edges of the pages. At Sunday Mass, they presented the book to the saint and he thanked the nuns for finding such a special book. The next day St. Thomas arrived at the convent and told the sister at the door to fetch Mother Superior. The Mother Superior arrived and expected to find St. Thomas with a problem, since the book couldn't possibly be ready, they thought it might take him years or maybe decades to write. Yet St. Thomas handed the nuns the book and said I hope this is satisfactory, he blessed the sisters and went on his way. When the nuns opened to book, they found a few simple words. It read 'if you want to get to Heaven, you must do one simple thing, Will it'.

Maybe just now when you pray, offer one for me, but also for the whole Church and indeed all people. Sometimes we need to think about the reasons why people find faith hard, rather than judging them for not being able to live up to the mark. I think a lot of the time it's that we don't 'will' heaven, rather than anything else.

Our Lady of Lourdes - Ora Pro Nobis!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's a considerably more elaborate version of the St Thomas story than the one I know!

I can empathise perfectly with the exile bit! 's hard. But it's a great opportunity! but it's hard