In contemplating all Christ endured throughout His earthly life, suffering, and death – to satisfy His Father’s will that an immense debt be paid for our offenses – it came at great difficulty to His humanity.
Modern news accounts depict people acting on perceived need, in wanting to convert their biological sex, circumvent God’s plan for marriage, flout civil and moral laws, even reconfigure the reality of who they are and their innate abilities. But if they’d seek simple truth – of God, their place before Him, and purpose within His plan – they could enjoy order of soul, which is at the heart of happiness.
In approaching His Passion and death, Christ kept His Father’s plan as His focus. Through all the physical and emotional ravages of His Passion, Christ had no other pleasure than to do His Father’s will for love of us. Our life, too, is a spiritual mountain, which we – in imitation of Christ – must ascend similarly, to rest in complete union with God.
St. John of the Cross, in his great work The Ascent of Mount Carmel, says: “If a pleasure is not for the glory of God, let it be renounced and rejected. Strive to prefer not that which is easiest, but that which is most difficult….not that which is most delectable, but that which is most unpleasing … not that which gives most pleasure, but that which gives least …” In short, St. John of the Cross advises we live a life of detachment “for Christ’s sake.” And then he promises “deep union with Christ will be yours.”
Many of today’s studies on emotional and mental health problems show that people suffer from the inability to face blunt reality, accept life’s difficulties, and adopt a mature and selfless plan for coping. Such skills aren’t found in an app, chatroom, or podcast. They’re garnered through the tough exercise of earnestly making one’s way, muscling through adversity, processing disappointment, and persevering anew with the daily grace and companionship of God.
In short, keeping friendship with God and knowing our place before Him simplifies many things, and brings great comfort of soul.
Some of life’s most difficult trials – also part of God’s plan – we come to realize are blessings and catalysts for interior growth. In our youth we envision mostly the fun – of independence, marriage, growing families, stature, financial autonomy, vacations, and adventures. Then we turn an unforeseen corner into sobering new territory.
Our parents age and need increased attention from us as their advocates. Our kids grow up and move great distances away. Our companies and careers present odd detours and changes we never envisioned. Our physical prowess becomes compromised. Certain friends and colleagues show their true colors. But for many of us, our friendship and reliance on God deepens as we realize our limits and dependence. His words and fortification take on a never-before-realized meaning – as if for the first time.
We finally mature, and see Christ as our most trusted Friend, whom we gratefully serve and wouldn’t trade for this world.
CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s Editor.