Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Green Martyrs of the World

From time to time in novels or dramas, you meet characters as attractive as the main character. Such is the case with the parish priest of Torcy, in the French novel, Diary of a Country Priest (written by Georges Bernanos). In the Peace Column of the Peace Weekly the writer gives the readers his thoughts on the book.

Torcy's pastor is an old priest who tasted the bitters and sweets of life. The experiences of age and failure are embedded in the rough words thrown at a young priest who is appointed to a country church, the hero of the book. The insights he has on the younger priest are right on. The words he uses to encourage the weak hero's courage sound like words without feeling.

It was the older priests way of telling the younger one to not succumb to intellectual vanity but bear witness to the Word of God by an exemplary life. Priests are human beings. One can be puffed up with less than a handful of knowledge which can show in authoritative ways. Repetition of disappointment and failure without success results in resignation. When these feelings keep piling up, one falls into indolence. If you're idle, you're more at risk of succumbing to evil. "Every single time I want to do good it is something evil that comes to hand" (Romans 7,21).

The older priest's advice is not to fall into this trap. In the meantime, he must stay awake. The young priest is convinced that the church is moving through times like an army marching through an unknown land without any munitions supplied. Marching troops are uneasy without knowing what danger is in front of them. It is no different than religion pushed to the periphery of society in these unfavorable times with little knowledge of the scale of future challenges.

The situation being such: "Grasp the red hot iron" these words are enticing. This is the advice to all Christians who value the  Word of God. The question is what kind of being do you have to be to grasp the iron? If you grab it with your hands, you're going to be burned. However, doing nothing is a lukewarm faith. Picking up the hot iron with thongs is a form of pragmatism.

The answer is fixed. The only way to grab it is with your bare hands. Courage and determination are needed.  It is not Christian to be consciously neutral given the many problems in society. Say “Yes” when it's “Yes” and "No" when it's "No".

If the church stays in the fort of comfort, corruption cannot be avoided. Evil is indeed evil. The purpose of evil is to destroy good? It's a naive idea. Evil regards it victory to "transform" good into evil. You must throw off your listlessness and begin to act. In this context, Pope Francis' words speak loudly: "I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. I do not want a Church concerned with being at the center and which then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures"
(The Joy of the Gospel #49).

September is the liturgical month of the martyrs. The martyrs are those who grabbed the iron. We try to build a bridge between the past and the present. To witness the truth of the gospel in daily life, one drop of blood and one drop of sweat is the green martyrdom. (Green Martyrdom - Living the ascetic life in the place and position where God places one)

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