The Christian Way of Life
All men seek happiness, but few find it because they limit their quest to material levels, to such earth-bound preoccupations as the possession of wealth or power, or indulgence in the pleasures of the senses.
True happiness is to be found only in union with God, to whom we belong – union with Him through the Christian way of life. He alone can free us from bondage to passion and from the tragedy of sin. He alone can satisfy the hunger of the soul for the infinite. Estrangement from Him, on the other hand, turns the soul into a miniature hell or isolation of misery and despair.
Is it not a matter of everyday experience that the Christian way of life is comparatively carefree and fear-proof and full of the spiritual gladness arising from a good conscience, whereas godlessness is a state of continual turmoil and torment? If frustration is the dominant note in world affairs today, is it not because men have dethroned God and scrapped His plan for the universe? Is it not because they have turned their backs on the perfectly balanced philosophy of life which the Christian religion offers – a philosophy in which God is the Creator, Ruler and Center of the universe, and in which the life of the humblest citizen has purpose, meaning and value, because he has a specific contribution to make towards the fulfillment of the Divine plan?
Of course, it is not enough to shelter ourselves behind the Christian name. We must make our Faith the supreme controlling factor of every aspect of life and, thus, close the gap between profession and practice.
It is true that we are weak and that our powers are limited but, by means of prayer which unites us to a God of infinite power and love, we can obtain grace, which makes easy what otherwise would be too difficult or impossible.
Many people are scared away from the Christian way of life because it involves self-denial but, if people are prepared to submit to great sacrifice for reasons of temporal security, why not for eternal spiritual values?
It is not for its own sake that we are called upon to practice self-denial, but in order that we may build up will-power for effective co-operation with Divine Grace so that, instead of being dragged down by the urge of passion and by the pull of temptation, we may become masters of ourselves and be able to say: I can do without these seductions; they mean nothing to me!
Without this interior conquest of the bewitchery of sin, happiness is impossible. The tree of renunciation bears good fruit and the feast grows out of the fast. The timid need to be reminded that the Christian message is one of good news. That is what the word GOSPEL means. It is a message telling us of reconciliation between God and man, and telling us also in the clearest possible terms that there is a life beyond the grave – a life inconceivably richer than life here on earth.
It was the exuberant joy of the Apostles, after they had received the Holy Ghost at Pentecost that startled the world into attention to their Gospel of the Risen Savior.
Cultivating a Christ-like spirit, the good Christian is lighthearted and even merry in the best sense of the word. There is a foretaste of Heaven in his heart. He discharges his duties cheerfully and observes the courtesies of life amiably. His very presence is an inspiration to others because, with strict moral principles, he combines kindliness and sympathy. His is the magic touch which gilds the dull cares of life with the gold of contentment and, when disturbing incidents arise, it is he who brings a sense of humor instead of a sense of grievance, to bear upon them. He praises God even when humiliations or misfortune comes his way.
The Christian way of life weans the soul from attachment to sin, and drives away all phobias, superstitions, obsessions and all other joy-killing and misery-producing poisons. It is the most powerful force in the world against the sordid, the morbid and the neurotic, and it bids us in the words of Saint Paul to “rejoice in the Lord always!” (Phil. 4:4)
The Sign Of The Cross
Catholics often make the Sign of the Cross casually, just as a nice gesture for beginning and ending their prayers. But, when we learn to take this act seriously, signing ourselves frequently with faith and reverence, remarkable results can take place. We find ourselves doing measurably better in our Christian life: Praying with more passion, resisting our bad inclinations more effectively, and relating to others more kindly.
The Sign of the Cross, after all, is not merely a pious gesture. It is a powerful prayer, a sacramental of the Church.
The Holy Scripture, Church Fathers and Saints, and Catholic teaching offer SIX perspectives on the Sign of the Cross that reveal why making it opens us to life-transforming graces. Once we grasp them, we can make the gesture with more faith and experience its great blessings.
Six Reasons To Make The Sign:
(1) A MINI-CREED:
(2) A RENEWAL OF BAPTISM:
(3) A MARK OF DISCIPLESHIP:
(4) AN ACCEPTANCE OF SUFFERING:
(5) A TWO-EDGED MOVE AGAINST THE DEVIL:
(6) A VICTORY OVER THE FLESH:
Apply These Truths NOW:
Right now, you can imprint in your heart, these SIX truths about the Sign of the Cross by making it SIX times, each time applying one of the perspectives:
First, sign yourself professing your faith in God.
Second, mark yourself remembering that you died with Christ in Baptism.
Third, make the Sign to declare that you belong to Christ as His disciple and will obey Him.
Fourth, sign yourself to fully embrace whatever suffering comes and to celebrate your suffering with Christ for the Church.
Fifth, make the Sign of the Cross as a defense against the devil and as an offensive advance of God’s Kingdom against him.
Finally, make the Sign of the Cross to crucify your flesh, put on Christ and live by the Holy Spirit.
Go through these SIX Signings often in your Morning Prayer and watch the Grace flow through this ancient sacramental, all in the days to come.