The sun might rise and set, the balmy breeze might float across our brow, the birds might sing their sweetest song, and the mountains, the trees, the flowers might all be lit up with the glory that recalls the days of paradise. The materials are all around us to make life holy, beautiful, most worthy of our time and energies and yet how few there are who appear to have the least appreciation of this.
How many of us have an erroneous view of our present life? We desire to be free of trials, afflictions and sorrows or to escape them. We speak in a language that suggests that the life of a Christian on earth ought to be free from all that can give pain and trouble; that we should live with health, joy and an uninterrupted flow of delights.
This is a most false view of the life of a Christian, it is more like might all be lit up with the glory that recalls the days of paradise. The materials are all around us to make life holy, beautiful, most worthy of our time and energies the aim of the non-believer who does not look for happiness beyond this world; it is the very essence of a Christian life in this world that it be one of probation, merit and trial. It is through these things that we are exercised in those virtues that fit us for heaven; it is by these that we acquire celestial riches, it is by these that we prepare ourselves to hear from Our Lord the consoling words “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord.”
God provides us the things that we need in this world to triumph over sin and evil. As Servant of God Father Isaac Hecker says in today’s reflection, “ The materials are all around us to make life holy, beautiful, most worthy of our time and energies.” The work of our lives should be the realization of the both the joys and the resources that God makes available to us; and to trust that we can lean on these during the trials and hardship that also come with living as a Christian. Father Hecker notes that many people are blind to God’s presence in their lives. Missing God, they miss the resources and blessings God provides them and they see only the difficulties in life from which they seek to escape
Life for a Christian is filled with both joy and suffering. In the trials that a Christian faces God who has triumphed over all things in the death and resurrection of Jesus accompanies us on our journey. This perspective is something that people without faith do not experience or understand. People who neither see nor believe that God is at work in their lives often seek to escape the world. For Hecker it is in living through these trials of life that we grow in virtue and gain what he calls, “celestial riches.”
Paulist Father Paul Robichaud CSP is Historian of the Paulist Fathers and Postulator osf the Cause of Father Hecker. His office is located at the Hecker Center in Washington D.C.