“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Take up your cross daily

Disease might deprive me of physical dignity but it can not deprive me of my spiritual dignity, unless I allow it. I am a child of God, who bears His image and likeness. Although it is a mystery to me, I trust there was an ordained purpose to my suffering and slow destruction.

After nearly quarter of a century (I’m a slow learner) suffering has taught me that at the foundation of existence rests a heartrending and beautiful mystery. Once that mystery is glimpsed, everything else becomes an irrelevance, a diversion. That mystery is the light of Christ. Suffering can create a renewed quality of conversion, so-to-speak. Many people throughout history have discovered this truth, including Saint Francis of Assisi, John Milton, John Donne and millions of ordinary people.

Suffering has the capacity to allow the sufferer to transcend their situation -- and even themselves -- with spiritual illumination (if the sufferer allows it). Suffering can draw the sufferer closer to Christ and transform them toward Christ’s likeness (if the sufferer allows it). Christ grants a special grace that transcends the suffering – if the sufferer allows it.

Christ’s grace allows inklings of comprehension of a glorious, transforming liberty of the children of God, regardless of their physical circumstances

Saint Paul referred to this liberty in his second letter to the Corinthians:

“…but whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image of glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2Corinthians 3.16-18.)

This spiritual liberty may well up internally when, in any human context, the sufferer possesses no liberty whatsoever! Even in a wretched physical state and surroundings, salvation and Joy can emerge. Into the sufferer’s inky darkness of despair a great light can shine as the individual unites his suffering with Christ’s Passion,

Yes, the truth and liberation of Jesus Christ’s light and truth can penetrate through human suffering. Christ’s truth can (and does) set people free, even today.

The Cross of Christ has given a context to my suffering. His Resurrection intensifies my longing and desire for eternity. By allowing Christ as my interior Master and Guide, he is revealing new dimensions of the Kingdom of God being built by the saving power of His love. Christ is slowly leading me into his world, uniting my suffering with his – inviting me to take up my cross daily. (Luke 9:23-25, 14:27)

He is my example. My hope and my destiny are with Him.

Mark Pickup

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