Push Into The Struggle
Have you ever asked yourself, “Why can’t anything just go right for once?” I know I have felt that way more times than I can count. I remember asking that question the loudest, while stuck on the side of the freeway in the middle of Maryland. I was on a road trip from Canada, and my car’s alternator had died. I had done everything in my power before making the trip to ensure that everything was good. I did not expect this. As myself and three friends sat in the car, calling the tow truck company, I remember looking at the dome light of the car as it slowly faded to black and saying those very words, “Why can’t anything just go right for once?”
That was the day of my engagement to the most beautiful woman in the world. I had wanted that day to be perfect. Yet, from the moment I woke up that day, I encountered struggle after struggle, from losing my toothbrush to losing my wallet. The only thing that seemed to go right was the engagement itself. Now here I stand, over four years later, married to that same beautiful woman but the struggles continue- why?
Reading through the lives of the Saints, you will see a common theme: struggle. As Secular Discalced Carmelites, my community is just finishing up reading the Letters of St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila), our Foundress. As we have been reading her letters, I realized that this great Doctor of the Church had two major constants in her life: God’s passionate love and struggles. That is not to say she did not experience success and different favours, but it was not without a constant battle simultaneously. Every time she went to try to found a community she’d be hit with another major pitfall, whether it be apprehension from clergy or personal illness. Nothing went without a hitch for her it seemed. But, her struggles were not the end of the story.
The same goes for Team Orthodoxy’s beloved Patron, St. Peter Julian Eymard. St. Peter Julian was a man of failed dreams. Even his best friend betrayed him in the process of founding the community. Every time St. Peter Julian set out to create a worthy throne for Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, he’d be hit with a huge pitfall; he’d lose the house, the Bishop revoked his support, etc. Whatever good St. Peter Julian wanted to accomplish was 99.9% of the time met with a battle.
The Saints and above all our Blessed Lord who they emulate, truly personify this basic truth: Good will always require a battle. Recently, the Catholic Church has been encountering this battle too. The recent Synod on the Family shows how true this is. How easy was it for the wayward Cardinals and Bishops to get their corrupted version of Relatio document into the hands of the media? Yet, the more faithful and orthodox Bishops and Cardinals struggled to get this fixed. But, the damage has been done. We see faithful clergy like Cardinal Burke seemingly being “demoted” for whatever reason, and attacked by his brother Bishops and Cardinals for his faithfulness to Christ and His Teachings. Yet, the spineless Cardinals who only care about themselves seem to sit in the lap of luxury. This is not a new thing. This has been happening not just for 2,000 years, but all of salvation history. From Cain and Abel to Jesus, to Pope Francis, those who seek good will always be met with a battle.
The current world hates a struggle. Everything seems to be employed in the service of comfort and ease. Make it faster, quicker, smarter. The easier it makes our life, the better. That is the general sentiment. Yet, as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” Yet, what does it take to achieve greatness?
Push into the struggle.
Winter is on our heels here in Canada, and with that comes lots and lots of snow and ice. If you’ve read Dante’s Inferno, you know that the final ring of Hell, where the devil lives, is actually bitter cold. It is not filled with flames, but ice. Pretty much, the only difference between there and my home town is that the Devil is not trapped here, forever gnawing on the brain matter of Judas Iscariot. I HATE the cold. Anyways, I digress. One thing they tell us all in “Driver’s Ed” as we prepare to get our driver’s licence is that if you hit a patch of ice and you start to lose control of your car, turn into the spin. It seems counter-intuitive to do it, but it actually helps you regain control of the vehicle instead of making the situation worse. The knee-jerk reaction is to pull away. This, however, only serves to create a greater loss of control. Why am I telling you this?
The point that I am making is simply this: to achieve greatness, we have to push into the struggle. A lot of people, especially young people, are looking for comfort. I recently spoke with a university professor who lamented at the lack of care his students have for their education. If they fail a test, they demand a re-test, because somehow something was wrong with the test and not with them. Our Western Culture has served to create monsters of people, who instead of seeking to be heroic, seek to be comfortable. The recent story of Brittany Maynard (Lord, have mercy) who committed suicide exemplifies where your mind can go when comfort is more important than greatness. Yet, the media praised her as a sort of hero.
False heroism. This is what has befallen our culture, and the local church is certainly not exempt. All of the scandals that have ravaged the church in recent years are rooted in the fact that it is easier to allow evil than to battle for good. It is easier to give into whatever temptation comes at you than to mortify yourself. So-called pastors are afraid to speak the truth out of fear. Not just fear that they will become less popular with the “frozen chosen”, but even with their own Bishops. God bless the priests and Bishops that remain committed to the Truth and speak it without compromise. Yet, we have all seen this before.
Every great story has within it a great hero. The hero will inevitably encounter struggles and enter into battle with a malevolent enemy. The hero wins in the end, but it is not without incredible struggle. Friends, this is our story. We have been called by the King of Kings to fight for Him and for His Church. The first battle begins within ourselves. We are called to discipline the flesh and become virtuous. As we conquer those dark things within ourselves, with the help of grace, we begin to see things change in the world around us. We are also called to restore the social order in the world. We are made to be heroic, not comfortable. There is going to be great struggles along the way. Yet, we know there can also be great victory, though it may not be the easy victory we had in mind. The question is, the next time we encounter something difficult and ask ourselves, “Why can’t anything just go right for once,” are we going to push into the struggle or pull away from it?
Posted on November 17, 2014, in Benedict XVI, Carmelites, Catholic Clergy, Christian Life, Church Corruption and Renewal, Conversion, Current Events, Jesus Christ, scandal, Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites, strength, Suicide and tagged Heroism, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Push into the Struggle, Sainthood, Secular Discalced Carmelites, St. Peter Julian, struggle, Synod on the Family. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.