Christian living a simple, but difficult, task


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June 23, 2014

Living the Christian life is quite simple. All we need to do is remember the words of St. Josemaria Escriva: "In Baptism, our Father God has taken possession of our lives, has made us share in the life of Christ and has given us the Holy Spirit." If Christ has taken possession of my life, I need always to ask myself whether what I am doing is done in Christ or with indifference to Christ.

Words like "sin" are too loaded for many to receive without feeling under attack, feeling judged. So, do not use that word. Ask instead whether an action is spiritual or unspiritual. We ourselves know the answer to that question. Is three hours watching a hockey game spiritual or unspiritual? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But in one's heart, one knows the answer. Is spending one's money and time on a holiday cruise spiritual or unspiritual? Again, one can judge one's own motives and the good or evil to which one's action contributes.

Judge yourself not on the basis of your desires, but on the basis of your Baptism. Is this action a sign of Christ having taken possession of my life? Or, is it a sign of my indifference to Christ?

God has created us to be saints, not to be cultural Catholics. A cultural Catholic can do many good works for the Church and impress everyone with their normally pleasant, smiling demeanour. A saint, however, does not give 80 per cent of his or her life to Christ and jealously guard the remainder for him or herself. The life of a saint is possessed by Christ, one whose every moment, whether at work, at play or at home, is oriented toward Jesus.

If the Church is in decline, it is because of the indifference of the baptized more than the hostility of the unbaptized. St. Cyprian wisely wrote, "The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians." The Church does not seek persecution, but when it is under fire, it grows. It grows because its truth and its love shine like stars against the darkness.

When the Church is comfortable ⁷ wealthy and free from persecution ⁷ it is easy to become indifferent, and it is difficult to let Christ take possession of every moment. The many distractions of life slowly push aside one's spiritual existence.

Amidst a culture of indifference, one is called to a different sort of martyrdom. One is called to the martyrdom of steadfast love for the Lord ⁷ humble perseverance in prayer, constant attentiveness to small opportunities to serve God and unrelenting self-examination of the subtle ways we turn from the Spirit.