Monday, 4 July 2022

4 July, Antonio, Cardinal Bacci: Meditations For Each Day

The New Life

1. "Only a Christian," wrote Tertullian, "can be wise, sincere, and lofty." (De praescript., 3.)

He had in mind, of course, the true follower of Jesus Christ who is practising the precepts of Our Lord. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart... Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Mt. 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27) “You are to be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt. 5:48)

A man who loves God above all things can fairly be called wise. God is the supreme good and as such should be the final end towards which we direct all our thoughts and actions. If anyone adopts his own ego or some created good as his goal in life, he is not wise because he has upset the proper scale of values. It is not true to say that we should love ourselves before anything else, because we are creatures who belong to God and should refer everything to Him. Only if we love God above all things, even above ourselves, can we really be said to love ourselves. How can we love ourselves if, in the first place, we do not love our highest good, which is God? Since this love must be active, it makes us faithful to God's commandments and raises us above the rest of creation to a state of immediate dependence on God. A love of all mankind flows as a natural consequence from this union of love with God. If we regard all men as our brothers in Jesus Christ, we shall be perfect Christians in the manner intended by our divine Redeemer when He desired us to be like His heavenly Father. This is the new life which Jesus came to bring into the world and which we should nurture in ourselves. (Cf. Heb. 4:23-24)

2. Anyone who takes life seriously in the Christian sense will regard it as a difficult journey towards perfection and towards God. This journey will be at the same time painful and joyful. On the way there will be troubles which will sadden us and vices which will impede our progress. Our falls and defeats will cause us to be disheartened. But there will also be the grace of God to enlighten and encourage us. It is our own loss if we sit down lazily on the side of the road which should lead us to Heaven. It is even more disastrous if we acknowledge defeat and lay down the spiritual weapons of prayer and renunciation in order to surrender ourselves to sin or to indifference. Every day we should say to ourselves in the presence of God: A new life is beginning.

3. All this is hard and may demand heroism. “The kingdom of heaven has been enduring violent assault, and the violent have been seizing it by force.” (Mt. 11:12) We have to do violence to ourselves and to our passions, but virtue has its reward not only in Heaven but even in this life. This reward is the peace of soul which God bestows on us after we have overcome our perverse inclinations. Holiness brings with it a spiritual youth which will never pass away. A new life is beginning!

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