Not long ago, I heard someone who has worked long and hard in apostolic causes described as “deeply spiritual — but, like the saints, so impractical.”
That contradiction sums up as nicely and neatly as possible the confusion of most moderns — some Catholics among them — with respect to man’s end, the things that are God’s, and the spiritual life.
Highly impractical . . . It was an odd remark coming from someone who, if he were asked, would reply in the next breath that man is made to know and love and serve God on this earth and be happy with Him forever in Heaven.
If we must face the fact that death is inevitable (and we certainly must) and that eternity begins right on its heels, then to imitate the saints is not unpractical, but quite as practical as it is possible to be.
After all, the saints are the only ones we know for sure have arrived at the “forever in Heaven.”
And when you realize that the spiritual life thrives in proportion as we cultivate the life of God in our soul, then to attempt a spirituality like the saints’ is the only kind of living that makes any sense.
The saints, contrary creatures, lived as though the soul were all, and as an afterthought gave a nod now and then to the body.
To their own bodies, that is; they poured out endless charity on the bodies of others. Not that they despised their own bodies — no saint despises the work of God’s hands — but they understood them well: their corruptibility, their weakness, their nuisance value, all inherited through Original Sin.
So, rather than depend on their short-lived and highly fallible flesh, they turned their entire attention to the soul.
Peculiarly enough, once the saints concentrated on the soul, it followed that the body fell in line, subdued and obedient, and their comings and goings in this world were marked with remarkable perspicacity and acumen.
They got more work done, undertook and accomplished more impossible things, acquired more friends and influenced more people than whole regiments of worldlings steeped in the rules for success.
Teach your Child to Love God
It’s amusing to observe the contradictions apparent in the comparison of materialism versus spirituality, but it’s not amusing for long — because there’s more involved than a game.
Each man caught in the embrace of materialism is a soul in danger of hellfire, and each soul is infinitely precious to God.
For those of us who are parents, the challenge is terrible indeed. We have placed in our care for a few short years precious immortal souls who belong to God, whose destiny is an eternity in and with God, and who depend entirely upon us for the formation of a way of life that will lead them surely to God.
And woe to us if we fail in this charge. Who would blame a child who runs headlong into the path of an onrushing truck if his parents have failed to warn him of the perils of trucks?
And who would blame a child who fires a loaded gun, killing his friend, if his parents have failed to warn him of the perils of guns?
Then who shall blame a child whose soul turns eagerly to the noise and distraction of worldliness, if his parents have failed to show him that love and peace and beauty are found only in God?
“It were better for him if a millstone were hung about his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.”
That is Christ, speaking of scandal. And the scandal of the neglected souls of children is manifest all about, in their confusion and delinquency, and of children grown up to adulthood in their godlessness and immorality.
“He who abides with me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing.”
That is Christ, too, speaking of the spiritual life. No need to argue more about imitating saints, nor look any further for a reason we should start now, in their earliest years, to show our children why, and, as best we can, how one sets about trying to be a saint.