Monday, May 07, 2007

The Priest at Prayer, May 8

The Priest and the Eternal Truths

Importance of my Salvation

I. God created me! There is real delight in relishing this
lofty truth.

God created me; I am His handiwork; to Him belongs my body with its intricate structure; His are the delicate organisms that serve the soul's spiritual faculties; a world more wonderful and of wider span than the sensible world of sky, land, and sea. His, in sum, is all this being which I call my own, and which He placed as the keystone of the arch of creation.

It is obvious then, that God did not make me for the sake of merely entertaining Himself, in order, shall we say, to while His time away or kill the boredom of an empty eternity, to amuse Himself like a child making mud pies or blowing bubbles!

Even more admirable than the constitution of my being is my purpose and destiny: my elevation to the dignity of a child of God, the infusion into me of the Spirit of His Only-begotten Son, His Eternal Word; the share He has allotted me in the inheritance of my Heavenly Father; in a word, my salvation. Hereditas mea praeclara est mihi! "No fairer lot could be mine; no nobler inheritance could I win! " (Ps. xv, 6)

II. As a pledge of this destiny, God engraved our souls with the yearning for salvation.

Good or bad, we all wish to save our souls; and although the desire for selfish enjoyment here below may lie deep in our hearts, as perhaps the mainspring of our lives, we nevertheless want to save our souls. Probe the dark recesses, and, more or less deep down, more or less alive, that desire of salvation will be discovered; a desire that in the dizziest moods and excesses is never wholly extinguished. If any sinner were to be asked while in the very act of plunging into the miry and turbulent waters of sin, "Do you wish to save your soul?" he would instandy reply: "Of course I do!"

A pity that this unquenchable longing for salvation, which seems akin to something instinctive, is not more often coupled with a serious consideration of St. Augustine's famous dictum: "Qui creavit te sine te, non salva­bit te sine te."

III. In order to kindle our desire of salvation, let us feed the flames by meditating on the following two questions put to us by our Divine Lord:
What doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?
Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul? (Matt. xvi, 26.)

The Son of Man will one day come in the glory of His Father, escorted by angels, to give to each one according to his works. If on that day your evil works entail the eternal loss of your soul, if Christ the Judge condemns you, what will you have gained by hoarding up money, by adding possession to possession, pleasure to pleasure, honor to honor, benefice to benefice? What will it avail to have been a priest, a bishop, a pope, and to show forth the ineffaceable character of the priesthood for all eternity? What doth it profit? What doth it profit? . . .

Nobody, reflects St. Bernard, would accept a month's enjoyment at the price of forty years of misery. And shall I, a man in my sane mind, accept an hour of pleasure at the cost of endless suffering?

IV. What exchange shall a man give for his soul?

In the event of your losing your soul before the scrutiny and Judgement-Seat of God, do you hold any­thing in reserve? Any assets wherewith to bribe the Judge and elicit a withdrawal of the sentence? Money? Influence? Persuasive oratory? Useless, every bit of it! He will give, not according to one's words or dignities or friendships or wealth, but according to one's works. (Matt. xvi, 27)

Only one kind of currency passes there: good works; and not those that you might do then but those done during this life. Mark it well; your eternal salvation is to be the fruit of the life you are living now.

Is my life such, so well-ordered, so in keeping with the Will of God, that it can yield fruit of life everlasting?

1. To bring practice into line with profession. Do I profess to save my soul? Then I shall regulate my life by the demands of success in this enterprise, and with the Psalmist I shall often say: Vide si via iniquitatis in me est, et deduc me in via aeterna. (Ps. cxxxviii, 24)

2. To engrave on my soul, as the heraldic expression of my entire existence, the motto from the Gospel: What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?
Adapted from The Priest at Prayer
by Fr. Eugenio Escribano, C.M. (© 1954)
Translated by B.T. Buckley, C.M.

Please pray for our priests and pray for vocations to the priesthood!

No comments: