Christ in the Home
A HOME ruled by the spirit of Christ is a happy home. It is also a school of virtue directed to spiritual transformation in Christ. But Christ does not force His entry into a home. He enters only by invitation. He remains only when evidently welcome. It is the wise bride and groom who let Him know by their spiritual preparation for marriage that they want Him to accompany them from the altar of their vows into the home they are about to establish. It is the wise husband and wife who let Him know they want Him always present by striving to put on His mind and to establish their family according to His principles. In such a home, husband and wife and children will enjoy gladness of heart, happiness in the fulfillment of duty, and intense union of souls.
The strength and honor of the family come above all from within, from union with Christ which gives power to manifest in daily living the beautiful family virtues of patience, energy, generosity, forbearance, cheerfulness, and mutual reverence with their consequent effect of peace and contentment.
This book is an invitation to the married or those about to marry, to spend the interior effort required to unite them solidly in Christ and to make them worthy transmitters of the Christ-life to their family. It is an invitation to fulfill the high purpose of their marriage which is to help each other to sanctity and to rear saints for heaven; to possess Christ themselves as completely as possible and to give Christ to their children.
Now sanctity is the result of personal cooperation with grace. It is no passive attainment. Equally true is it that spiritual truths and principles merely known but not realized are of little force in stimulating spiritual energy and effort. Consequently this book of spiritual readings makes no attempt to present fully developed meditations. It is not to be a substitute for personal reflection and prayer. Its various topics are presented as points of departure into deeper realms of thought and prayer; by the personal following through of the ideas offered, conviction and realization will be achieved and lives transformed. A stronger bond of communication will be established between the soul and God resulting in real prayer and not prayers said. The affections made will be the outpouring of the individual’s response to God and not someone else’s pre-planned expression of what that response ought to be.
The essential thing is to talk over the subjects with God. It is important then to enter into His Presence before each reading by a reverent act of recollection; to beg His light to see the truth and His strength to act on conviction and realization. It is important to see; it is more important to will.
The points offered for prayerful consideration are not meant to carry the reader into the clouds of elevated speculation and theory but rather to direct the soul to study prayerfully the daily, common, routine elements of his life in order to lift them out of possible monotony and deadening repetition into the challenging and absorbing adventure of making them divine.
This book in no way presumes to replace what should be for all Christians the two essential meditation books–the Gospels and the Missal. In fact, it presupposes that its readers are Christians accustomed to live in the spirit of Our Lord’s life according to the rhythm of the liturgy. It endeavors to provide variety and to bring into practical application some of the lessons hidden in the Gospels or the Missal.
Of vital importance is it, no matter what the meditation book, to draw from the little that one reads a maximum of nourishment for the soul. That is not impossible. All one need do is to beg God for His grace and to co-operate with the grace that He gives.
Such a manifestation of good will is a sincere invitation to Christ and a convincing proof that He is welcome in your life.
CHRIST WILL ENTER YOUR HOME HE WILL REMAIN TO DWELL WITH YOU
THE SAINT OF MODERN TIMES
FORMERLY when people dreamed of sanctity or even of the interior life, they aspired to one thing only–to get away from the world, to go off to the desert, or at least to the priesthood or the religious state. To become a saint in the world, to acquire a true and profound union with God in the world, to exercise oneself in the practice of complete abnegation, and to pursue perfection in the world seemed scarcely possible.
People are beginning to realize better that there is such a thing as sanctity in the world.
But are we to conclude therefore that the laity, because they live in the world, because they have entered the married state, must be content with a cheaper view of perfection? Must assume that the practice of the highest virtues is not for them? That they may not aspire to divine union and the secret joys of a valiant fidelity inspired by love?
Fortunately there are many who realize the falsity of such a conclusion. Saint Francis de Sales challenged the laity to strive for high sanctity.
“The world of today longs to contemplate the saint of modern times who will take his place beside the ancient and venerable figures of our history,” observes Rademacher, the author of “Religion and Life.” “It demands the saintly man of the world who unites harmoniously in his personality all the aspects of a noble humanism established on correct values, entirely impregnated with a living faith, a strong love of God, and a supple, joyous participation in the life of the Church…. There ought to be even now on this earth a type of saintly employee, saintly merchant, saintly industrialist, saintly peasant, saintly wife, saintly woman of Christian culture and refinement. The saint’s role in the world today is to be the pioneer of the new family, of the new State, of the new Society, of the new humanity, of the Kingdom of God which is always new.”
No profession is of itself an obstacle to holiness. No state of life is an obstacle; and marriage, if rightly understood, not only demands holiness but leads those who fulfill all its requirements to true sanctity.
In trying to picture what the saint of the next centuries should be, Foerster, a Protestant author, did not hesitate to write: “Just as in former times the saint was characterized by his courage to confess his faith and die a martyr, since he held faith to be his highest ideal for which he must be willing to suffer; just as the saint of the Middle Ages and even of our own day, has been characterized by virginity, since then and now, and especially in our times, it requires a struggle to conquer many temptations to preserve personal purity; so perhaps the saint of the centuries to come will be the perfect wife or husband, since the vital ideal for which we should willingly suffer today is the sacredness of marriage.”
There is much truth in these words. It may be thought that the age of martyrs is not so far distant as the author would have us believe. And consecrated virginity, thank God, continues to hold a strong appeal for many souls. But is Foerster not pathetically correct in stating that saints in married life, in conjugal fidelity, are a crying need of our age to counteract the attacks on the family and notably the attacks on the indissolubility of marriage?
What thirst consumes me as I begin this book of spiritual readings? Is it the thirst for sanctity? How far am I willing to go?
Let me gauge the measure of my desire, of my sincerity.