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Kempis on: The Value of Adversity



Mathew 23:29-33


“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood. 'Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; now fill up what your ancestors measured out! You serpents, you brood of vipers, how can you flee from the judgment of Gehenna?

 

The value of adversity? Value and adversity seem contradictory. But then I remembered what the best manager I have had called problems. He told me they weren't problems, but opportunities. Although I didn't, initially, understand, I grew and put it in practice. He was right.


I spent all last week working on a post that I eventually discarded. Every time I sat down to add to the post, modify or even edit, my mind would go blank... and I now know why. If you're curious as to what the post might have centered on, re-read Matthew's Gospel from the Twenty-First week in ordinary time. In those passages we read where Jesus really 'got into the faces' of the scribes and Pharisees. He did some major scolding. He included the above passage and ended the week with Matthew 24:42-44, "Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come."


I only write when I am inspired by God, not by man. The post I discarded was inspired by the evil in the world and I feel that God was telling me, "No, you are to write about the Gospel, My Truth and continue relating how Thomas Kempis helped change your life. I will not allow you to moan and complain." Therefore, being obedient, I deleted the post and started over.


The one thought I will bring forward, from the deleted post, is the trials we face daily. If I said something like being challenged, that is certainly an understatement. We, of faith, are witnessing hard times. The evil that permeates our lives weighs heavily. However, there have always been hardships. It's what we, as Catholic Christians, elect to do about it.


Kempis:


It is good for us to have trials and troubles at times, for they often remind us that we are on probation and ought not to hope in any worldly thing. It is good for us sometimes to suffer contradiction, to be misjudged by men even though we do well and mean well. These things help us to be humble and shield us from vainglory.
When to all outward appearances men give us no credit, when they do not think well of us, then we are more inclined to seek God Who sees our hearts.
A man ought to root himself so firmly in God that he will not need the consolations of men.
When a man of good will is afflicted, tempted, and tormented by evil thoughts, he realizes clearly that his greatest need is God, without whom he can do no good. Saddened by his miseries and sufferings, he laments and prays.
He wearies of living longer and wishes for death that he might be dissolved and be with Christ.
Complete peace cannot be found on earth. (my emphasis)

(A quick note. If you've read any of my past posts you will see that I emphasize many times. The quotes are from the book "Imitation of Christ" and have has a profound affect on me. The emphasis stresses how I feel.)


When in the US Navy, submarine force, we had a motto: "A griping sailor is a happy sailor." (We did not use the word gripe.) It took me a very long time to stop the complaining and moaning... and I still need work. (When I realize I've slipped, off to confession I go.)


What I've found is adversity has, indeed, made me a better Catholic and follower of Jesus Christ. The worst thing to to do is 'lower the bar'. Meaning, my goal is to get to heaven, and if there is to be a purgative process, then I'm more than willing, in fact happy, to let it be here on earth.


Take Simon/Peter. One instance has Jesus telling Simon that he is now called Peter, The Rock on which Jesus will build His church. Not soon after He is telling Simon to "get behind Me satan". Pre-converted me would have given up, tromped off in a huff and figured out some way to sin, just out of spite. I need God more than ever to overcome the evil muck that is occurring. I know how much He loves each of us and wants us to go to Him when times are tough.


Catholics are not immune to adversity. Adversity, if we accept it, allows us to develop in character. For Catholic Christians this means prayer, fasting and almsgiving. St. John of the Cross is quoted as saying, "God does not fit in an occupied heart." It's difficult to make room for God of the earthly things in our lives. We definitely don't want to clog our hearts with the negatives. I'll let God take care of the negatives, pray for His help and concentrate making Him number one in my heart each moment of my life.


Amen?


God Bless you






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