Tuesday, October 27, 2009
It's easy, when the sun is shining, to look at Jesus and say we will be faithful. It's easy, when the sun is shining, to look upon our Crucified Lord, and the Blessed Sacrament, there as we kneel comfortably at the Consecration, and say we will follow Him everywhere. It's easy to SAY we are willing to offer ourselves so completely, so sacrificially...at least, when nothing is being demanded of us.
But it's different in the darkest hours of the night, when we are alone, when we have awakened from a nightmare and find that the nightmare is perhaps only beginning. It's a different story when we are there, in that darkness, where the shadows have teeth and even the light of the flickering vigil candle isn't enough, for it seems to be guttering. There, in that nighttime abandonment it's easy to forget the promises made in comfort and sunlight.
When we are assailed by doubts, tormented by fears, and unable to face them, when the terrors of the night encroach upon our sleep and refuse to release us back to the blessed repose we so deeply need, and God seems so far away, it's easy to forget we OFFERED to take on suffering, and that spiritual warfare comes part and parcel with the territory.
It is in those moments, or hours, or days or weeks or years, when the Shadow of the Cross falls over us that we most want to flee back into the sunlight where we could find comfort. Yet we know we should go directly to the Cross and cling to it, taking refuge under the shadow of His wings and, oh, the irony! The irony of this flight, for it is ONLY because of the light of Christ that we can discern the shadow of the Cross from the shadows that gnash at us, seeking the destruction of our souls!
There is the folly and the glory of the Cross, once again, for we know we MUST pass through that shadow if we are ever able to enter into that eternal light. And still, we struggle, we scream, we want to flee, but...to whom can we go? And to what corner of the earth can we flee from the love of Christ?
When I am in the midst of such a struggle, I say to Jesus through my own folly, "Lord, I thought I could do this but I was wrong, let me go! I don't like this game and I don't want to play it any more!"
But Jesus is patient, and He is kind, but always, always firm in his chastizement. He bids me look at him, bleeding upon the Cross. "This isn't a game."
No, not a game. Salvation isn't a game or a sport or a frivolous pursuit.
When we do battle in those nightmarish hours of the night, or any time of the day, that is when our faith becomes tangible. Are we continuing to claim our love for Jesus when suddenly it's OUR blood falling upon the ground? When we experience some kind of abandonment, or the doubts and fears overwhelm us, and maybe temptations threaten, do we enter into prayer or do we give in? That is not to say that we don't experience sadness or fear or doubt, but in those times, do we give up on God completely or do we, in some way, continue to cling to His hand, reaching out for Him even if it "feels" like He's not there?
That's the battleground. That's where we are conformed to Christ, and it's not meant to be comfortable.
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou O Prince of the Heavenly Host, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits that prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.