He said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:14)
Why, more than 750 years after it was written, did our Lord choose this time in history to resurrect the Rule of 1221? Perhaps in the early days of the BSP the Divine reasoning may have seemed less apparent and harder to explain to those not feeling called to a life of penance. But as the Culture of Death grows ever more brazen, and its diabolical roots become more exposed, it is becoming abundantly clear to everyone whose eyes of faith are open, why our Lord is renewing the call to penance. As Jesus said, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:29)
The battle is intensifying, there can be no doubt. We are called on daily to increase our prayer and sacrifice, the weapons of choice in Our Lady’s army. But I believe there is another aspect to our ascetical practice that will become more apparent in the coming darkness. I have mentioned before the correction that I feel is coming to the Church and the world. This correction is certainly now underway and there will be much more to endure than we have already seen. Much, much more.
Yet, the Lord, in his infinite mercy, has been preparing us in many ways. He has sent his Mother and various messengers so that we will not be afraid when these things happen. As my Spiritual Director says, everything that God allows to happen is for our ultimate good. We must be completely surrendered to the will of God and see everything as coming from the Divine Will. Even the difficult things.
Christ said as much in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Father if you will, let this cup pass me by. Yet, not my will but thine be done.” Did Christ only learn obedience that day in the Garden? No, he learned and practised it all his life at the hands of Mary and Joseph. For Scripture tells us that after his parents found him in the temple at the age of 12, he returned with them and was obedient. It was precisely that school of obedience that prepared him for the Garden.
Which brings us back to the Rule. Through it, we are being trained in the ascetical life so that we may learn detachment from all things. An article by Jordan Aumann, O.P. on the teachings of St. John of the Cross says:
“In this context St. John urges the Christian to try not to prefer that which is easiest but that which is most difficult; not that which gives the most pleasure but that which gives least; not that which is restful but that which is laborious; not that which is the greatest but that which is the least; and so forth. In a word, one should strive to cultivate a spirit of holy indifference, a perfect obedience to the divine will.
“In the second set of counsels St. John returns to his basic teaching that ‘we are not treating here of the lack of things, since this implies no detachment on the part of the soul if it has a desire for them; but we are treating of the detachment from them of the taste and desire, for it is this that leaves the soul free and void of them, although it may have them.’ (chap. 3).
“These counsels are reminiscent of the manner in which Christ spoke when he said: ‘Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’ (Mt 16:25)”
Difficult days are coming, but our Lord has been preparing us through our little penances, building spiritual muscle so that we will not be shamed when we come to the Garden. The greatness of God is not that he prevents us from suffering, but that the soul completely surrendered to him becomes an instrument of his infinite mercy and the unimaginable power of his love.
May Jesus Christ, crucified, died, and risen bless us all. Jesus we trust in you.