A certain period of history might well be described as a world without a soul. Institutions remained standing, society seemed to hold together, but much more by virtue of acquired speed and habit than from an interior dynamic force vibrant with life.
Speaking of himself, after his definite return to the true faith, Charles Nicolle, a great professor of medicine, compared himself to one of the lamps of the catacombs marked with the monogram of Christ and kept now as a souvenir, but which does not light at all; a Christian receptacle, no oil.
Am I not in danger of a similar phenomenon: a facade but nothing within; a decoration not a soul; the exterior of a religious, the interior empty.
Many Christians in the world practice a mere formal Christianity; appearances are safe; one does not dare to speak of their life.
We say the religious life: it must be a life, otherwise it is only a lie and an illusion.
I must be on my guard.
My God, give me a horror of sham, of a tepid will; of pretending to serve You while all the time my life is without soul, so that You have before You a lamp which is only a receptacle without oil and without flame.
Marked with the monogram of Christ. Certainly this applies to me, considering my investiture, my profession, and the insignia that I wear. I display perhaps a cross or a heart inscribed with some elevating motto which proclaims my consecration to a very elevated ideal of life. This ideal, however, resolves into only a few words upon metal, or a pretty symbol which means little more than one of my baubles of the past.
It is serious. The Master has said: "Let your light shine!" Is not my life becoming dim? Let me quickly replenish my lamp and re-enkindle the flame!
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)