These past few weeks I’ve let myself slip into studying instead of praying, thinking instead of discipling. It’s something I have to watch out for all the time, this inclination to become distracted from what I should be doing (picking up my cross and following my Lord) and doing instead what I want to do (read, write, talk, anything but pray and meditate on the mysteries of our redemption). But this week I had a little taste of what discipleship must really be about and the kind of difference it can make in one’s life. And even this little taste is enough to make me want more.
Offering suffering for the salvation of souls, for the conversion of hearts and minds, is what we Christians are supposed to be about. Not leading faithful Christian lives so that we will have prosperity or good health or any of the ten thousand things we tell ourselves we must have in order to have value in the eyes of others and in our own eyes too. We accept suffering because Christ accepted suffering. We embrace our crosses because Christ accepted His. We allow others to hammer the nails through our hands because He allowed our ancestors to hammer the nails through His, the same hands that had brought healing to so many, had fed so many, had calmed the sea and stilled the wind, and had done so many things that to tell them all would fill the pages of all the books in the world.
When I finally went to bed, and fighting the temptation to merely read and study again and wanting to pray and meditate, I picked up a small booklet I bought years ago: Friends of the Cross, by St. Louis de Montfort. I didn’t get past the preface for there I found the subject for the night’s meditation.
“He who has not the spirit of Christ, which is the spirit of the Cross, does not belong to Him, but they who belong to Him have crucified their flesh and their concupiscences.”
Those words burned themselves into my heart and mind, burned themselves into my very soul. I haven’t been able to get them out of my thoughts since I read them. They were the last words I saw before I slept and the first words I remembered when I awoke. And they have stayed with me all day as I look over my life and wonder: Have I yet picked up my cross? Have I followed Him? Have I ever been a true disciple?
Have I ever really belonged to Him at all?