...sometime in the Late Middle Ages six men went to visit a very famous monk. The six were men of wealth, position, and prestige. The monk was a man known first for his holiness and then for his wisdom. When they arrived at the monastary they inquired after the whereabouts of the monk. They thought they would find him either in chapel or in the scriptorium reading the Scriptures. Instead, they found him hoeing vegetables in the monastary garden. (The rule of his religious order prescribed two hours of manual labour a day for each monk.)
They introudced themselves and talked with him for a while. Finally, one of them asked the holy monk, "If you discovered that the Lord Jesus was coming at this hour, what would you do?" The monk leaned on his hoe and said, "I'd keep hoeing a straight row. Our rule calls for me to work for one more hour today, and my superior has assigned me to hoe this garden."
The educated wealthy gentlemen were shocked. They had anticipated that he would have said he would rush to the chapel to await the Lord. Sensing their consternation the monk said to them.
"In obeying the rule of my order I am obeying God. I fulfill my duty to God. I show my true love for God. If I would do something different if I discovered the Lord was coming at this time, then there is something wrong with the way I am living my life right now. If there is, I should change it right now. I should always live my life as if the Lord were coming for me right then. But right now I am supposed to be hoeing vegetables. So if the Lord comes right now, He is going to find me doing my job well, hoeing a straight row."
-Desmond Birch, Trial, Tribulation, and Triumph: Before, During, and After Antichrist
Friday, May 13, 2011
"The mission of the Church is not to crouch in a defensive posture behind the walls of Fortress Catholicism, but to take the fight to the enemy."
I’m always delighted to see it when people get excited about the word of God and see in the revelation of Christ the power of liberation. My reader gets it: The mission of the Church is not to crouch in a defensive posture behind the walls of Fortress Catholicism, but to take the fight to the enemy. “The gates of hell” is imagery from siege warfare. You do not attack with a gate. You hide behind it while the attacking army deploys battering rams to smash it to pieces. We, the Church, are the attacking army against the gates of hell, with Jesus as our captain. The weapons of our warfare are not violence but the testimony of Christ, charity, and our own blood and suffering, offered in union with His sacrifice. We do not fight because we are sinless and perfect, but because grace enables us. We defeat our enemies by making them our brothers and sisters and no longer enemies. We can’t be defeated, because even death is on our side now, having been taken prisoner and made the conquered slave of the Risen One. The only thing hell can do is lie and plant thoughts of despair or presumption in our minds to turn us from Hope. If we accept these thoughts, either by bitterly embracing the lie that there is no hope for the Church or by drunkenly concluding that we need not fight since the battle will be won someday, then we turn from Hope. But if we remain in Christ and keep putting one foot in front of the other in obedience, we have every reason to rejoice as we keep battering at the gates of hell in his Name and Power.