Good Morning Brothers and Sisters…
It seems like this is the time of year when I wear a sweatshirt to work, only to strip it off and throw it into the backseat before lunch time. By the end of the week, I can’t find any sweatshirts to wear in the morning because the pile of them are in the backseat of my truck, and not in my closet. It never fails, I walk around the house for 15 minutes, trying not to wake up anybody else, looking for a sweatshirt. Then…I remember the mobile storage facility known as the backseat of my truck.
Easter is over. The celebrations have ended. The swelling of church attendance has taken its anti-inflammatory and returned to normal numbers. The drive and determination to pray, fast, and give through the Lenten season is at an end. The tendency to take a breath, ignore the devotion time, skip through the prayers, and just….relax….is knocking at the door. This has always been my problem, my achilles heel, the discipline to discipline. When I am passionate, the fire inside to RPMS is burning like a furnace. When I am not passionate, the fire inside to RPMS is like a small pilot light on a water heater. I am fortunate, however, that God has blessed me with recognition of this weakness. It helps to know where the weakness is, in order to train it into a strength. I do not want to look like a bodybuilder who only trains his upper body (spiritually speaking) and walks around on little puny legs. I want to be strong in all areas. At times like this, I like to find inspiration in others who have walked this journey long before I. This morning, I find that inspiration in these words from ‘St. Ignatius of Antioch’.
“And thus you all are fellow travelers, God-bearers and temple-bearers, Christ-bearers and bearers of holiness, with the commandments of Jesus Christ for festal attire. At this I am jubilant, privileged as I am to converse with you through this letter, and to congratulate you because in your other-worldliness you love nothing but God alone. But pray unceasingly also for the rest of men, for they offer ground for hoping that they may be converted and win their way to God. Give them opportunity therefore, at least by your conduct, of becoming your disciples. Meet their angry outbursts with your own gentleness, their boastfulness with your humility, their reviling with your prayers, their error with your constancy in the faith, their harshness with your meekness; and beware of trying to match their example. Let us prove ourselves their brothers through courtesy. Let us strive to follow the Lord’s example and see who can suffer greater wrong, who more deprivation, who more contempt. Thus no weed of the devil will be found among you; but you will persevere in perfect chastity and sobriety through Jesus Christ, in body and soul. The last epoch has arrived! Therefore let us exercise restraint and fear lest God’s long-suffering should turn to our condemnation. Obviously, we must either fear the gathering storm of anger, or else cherish the present time of grace – one of the two; only let us be found in union with Christ Jesus so as to possess the true life. Apart from Him, let nothing fascinate you.”
I am further inspired by the greater context of his letters to the church. He was on his way to Rome, in a cage, to be killed on the Coliseum floor by wild beasts…and he was writing letters to different churches to encourage them in their walk. It seems that I have a backseat in my spirituality, where I leave my discipline, and it takes encouragement from my elders, those that walked this faith journey before me, to remind me where I left it.
“Lord Jesus, thank You for the men and women of the Church, who inspire the rest of us to keep digging. Lord in Heaven, may nothing else fascinate us except You.”