How many of us have an erroneous view of the object of our present life? When there are trials, afflictions and sorrows; we seek to escape from them or get rid of them. The life of a Christian upon the earth should be free of all that gives pain and trouble and accompanied instead with health, joy and uninterrupted flow of delights. This is a most false view of the Christian life. It is more like that of a non-believer whose does not look for happiness beyond this world.
The essence of the Christian life in this world is one of probation, merit and trial. By our being exercised by these virtues that we are made fit for heaven. Christian perfection is obtained through faithful performance of the common duties of everyday life. These duties are imposed upon us by God himself. Our minds and bodies with all of their instincts, powers and organs are designed expressly for their performance and fulfillment. Society (that is the church and state) depend upon their right and faithful performance for their welfare and prosperity. God has written these duties in so plain and large characters in our mental, moral and physical constitution, so that no one can ignore them. God has so constituted human nature that man’s moral nature finds one of the sources of the greatest satisfaction and delight in the fulfillment of these duties of everyday life.
Obedience to God is not in conflict with self-reliance and self-assertion. Servant of God, Father Isaac Hecker divides what is within our own judgment and what belongs to the judgment of God, which in turn informs our judgment. God has given us independent lives and independent personalities therefore God expects us to act using our judgment for many of the decisions in our lives. To assert oneself in truth and courage is one of the goals of becoming a mature human being.
Faith does not seek to replace or eliminate our intelligence. We are to be obedient to God through faith but this does not mean that we are to be totally submissive to every use of authority. For Hecker such submission is not a virtue and does not encourage us, to develop the courage and fortitude we need to live out our lives in faith. Obedience to God in faith and the development of our own judgment work together in mature people. As Father Isaac Hecker says in today’s reflection,” Faith completes us and gives wholeness to our holiness.”
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.