This entry was primarily written for a dear friend and missionary priest. Though, I think it is helpful to all of us as we strive to share the Gospel by the witness of our lives.
One of the greatest tragedies facing our lives as Christians today, especially in the Western world is a complete loss of sacrifice and love of God. It is difficult to understand the depth of sacrifice and the immensity of love that we are to have in our hearts for the Lord as we sit immersed a society that is profoundly unmoved to the things that matter most.
We have grown to accept the sentimentality of things, to graze the surface of meanings only, and to turn away should anything demand any more than our light-hearted convenient investment.
The priest stands alone, in many ways, and most times sadly doesn't appear to stand for anything at all. If one reads the Desert Father's it becomes quite evident that our faith life today is more like a luxurious walk on a Sunday afternoon. Lest I be accused of judgement, I want to further explain myself and use that imagery to solely convict those who have become lukewarm, indifferent, and even passive within their own spiritual lives. Perhaps they have truly never had the authentic encounter with the radiant love of God conceived from radical obedience and inner detachment. I am not suggesting that one parades around in a hair shirt or takes on some extreme form of bodily penance, I am speaking of a loving undisturbed inward disposition focused on Christ. For only through fastening ourselves so tightly to our Lord , and making this our primary focus can one ever succeed in any mission to others.
The call of a missionary and the tragedy of passivity in the spiritual life does not match up, it does not balance accordingly and any fruit cultivated as a result of this will only wither at the first sight of any challenge.
The missionary is to be perpetually mindful of the desert experience, an inner monk is a fitting way to describe how their disposition should be. In a way they are especially called to crucify their passions, those of pride primarily before going out into the peripheries and sharing the Truth to all they are called to serve.
In a way like no other they are to be so hidden in Christ, primarily because they are called to be so publicly outward and consequently face much human glory as a result of their bringing the beauty of Christ to those around them.
In this there is offered an experience of humility, but also the temptation to be incredibly proud. A good way of recognizing that we are running on our own esteem alone is exhaustion. Of course, it is human to be tired, but when we are appropriately invested in Christ and obedient in our prayer life we are truly supernaturally sustained and provided with a zest and the ability (thanks be to God) to go out and do good work.
God uses our frailty and our moments of human weakness to call us more wholly toward him, not to discourage us. But it is fitting that he pops the balloon of pride every now and then so we don't lose ourselves completely floating off somewhere into the vastness and away from Him. The greater the mission, the greater the resistance against us. The greater the human glory given to us, the greater the grace of God's glory working through us. Gratitude to God is to precede any good work for Him.
As a mother, I can never completely understand the call to the priesthood, missionary life, or those fully invested in formal faith formation, but I can testify about the fragility of the life of a soul and it's shaping as a result in witnessing daily my special call as a mother to help form tiny minds and souls into great lovers of God.
Though on a much smaller scale than that of a priest, we, as mother's in Christ are called to nurture the life of another's soul. This is a crucial responsibility. We are nurturers of the soul....essentially, your call is the same, although you are nurturers of the soul to everyone you encounter and especially the flock to which you are entrusted. This is tremendously important work. To recognize the grave responsibility of it all is to begin any mission well. This naturally demands obedience in you own prayer life. Sustenance that comes alone from Christ and time in solitude before Him and with Him. It is not enough to have had an isolated experience of Christ's love or some immense encounter that remains etched in the soul.
Christ must be perpetually sought, even though we assume that we have been found, so that He meets us and remains with us as the life of our soul naturally grows and changes with the experiences that we face.
A loss of zest or fire within us is often because the memory of our Lord and His work in us is so far from us, but He is ever present. If He wanted to remain some passing thought or memory then He wouldn't make Himself so apparently new to us throughout our Salvation history and in the modern day hearts of those converted souls we encounter. (CC)