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Sorrow's Company (part II)

“Now, you know we are taught by St. Paul that the Father chose us before the foundation of the world. That means that we are chosen in the Man of Sorrows. This is our greatest grace. By this are we His brethren. It must needs be that if we are really His brethren, we have been chosen before the foundation of the world. If we are to go with Him we must share His pilgrimage, and share the companionship of that sorrow that went by His side. It is a part of the very price that we must pay for His company. We are not only going with Him; but in Him only are we sanctified. Our good works, our life, our actions are only of value in so far as they are in Him; in so far as we live in Him, in so far as we are not merely in His company, but in some mysterious way one with Him shall we be brought into the fulness of His blessed vision. It is that to which we are called by our faith. What is faith but His knowledge that He shares with us? Of course you pay for your share of all His gifts. Are you sensitive to beauty? You must pay for this by your pain. Are you sensitive to beauty? Why, then, you must be sensitive to ugliness. While others less sensitive have none of the appreciation of beauty that you have, none of the joy, the pleasure this brings you, therefore, have they also but little of your pain. You pay high for every gift of God. For faith? — you must pay very high indeed for faith. God calls people, as He called Abraham, out from house and family. You must leave all to follow Him. You must dare something if you would go His way, for He would see you part of His own mystic body.

“You pay not for faith only, but even for hope also, for that too you share with Him. Our courage is but a sharing of His courage. Remember that to lose hope is to lose life: ‘Unless you eat My flesh and drink My blood you shall have no life in you.’

“Love even. Must we pay for that? Love it is that makes you a pilgrim. You are a pilgrim because you love something that you shall not see here, because you are seeking after that which is invisible, which ‘No man has seen and lived.’ That is indeed what makes you a pilgrim — love! It is love of something that is not to be found here, that is on the other side — love also is the prize. For love it was that He gave His body and blood. For love went He to Calvary through Good Friday’s pain and all the Passiontide.

“We are pilgrims here — we are strangers. The only dreadful danger that assaults us is the danger lest we settle down. We are pilgrims on the march. Always beware of comfort! Beware of being content with what you have! Forget the things that are behind and stretch forward. There ahead is your comfort; and this also shall comfort you, that you are not a pilgrim alone. You are not left to yourself. He is your fellow. The fellowship of His sufferings is the fellowship of His pilgrimage. ‘I am the way,’ He said. What does sorrow matter? His company is there too. You may not see Him. Their eyes were held, and they never saw Him. None the less to Emmaus He went a pilgrim by their side. He was a pilgrim with them, talking with them, and they never knew it was He. ‘Did not your heart burn when He spoke to you? You did not know it was He.’ But then, they constrained Him to stay with them. ‘Stay with us for it is now past daylight and the evening comes.’ When will our evening come? None of us knows. They could see the light failing. They could see the shadows lengthening. They could see the great, hot sun sinking and the darkness widening, widening. When it is our evening, we know this, that we shall have no need to constrain Him to remain with us. Always is He by our side. Had they known who it was they would have remembered that He said: ‘I am with you always.’ That is why He came, to give us His company always. We are pilgrims, and yet, He comes with us. That robs the pilgrimage of any real pain. ‘This day shalt thou be with me in paradise.’ He was only a thief, and he hung there in agony, but it was honor and paradise to hang by the side of Christ. Would not you wish it also, to share the privilege of the good thief? Would not you wish that you too when you are dying should die by the side of the dying Christ? Well — that is always possible. If you live with Him you shall die with Him. You shall die with Him if you wish to. He will be there. Death means only that you step out of your pilgrimage, that it ends, that you come to Him face to face.

“May He give us all the courage that we need to go the way He shepherds us. That when He calls, we may go unfrightened. If He bids us come to Him across the waters, that unfrightened we may go. And if He bids us climb the hill, may we not notice that it is a hill, mindful only of the happiness of His company. Even if He calls us to a last desolation, though He seems absent, He will be there. If He calls us to a bitter agony, that too would be an honor and a privilege, since our agony would be still only a sharing of His agony; He would have lifted the coverlet of suffering and brought us in to lie by His side.

“He made us for Himself, that we should travel with Him and see Him at last in His unveiled beauty in the abiding city where He is light and happiness and endless home.” (Fr. Bede Jarrett, O.P., No Abiding City, ch. 12)

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