Last week, I encouraged people to attend the services for the Great Feast of the Exaltation of the Precious Cross. As I reflect upon the message of the Cross in these days of the post-feast, I am reminded of a question often asked of me about family life: how does one balance one’s time between school related commitments and the expectation to be in church? The nature of the question can result in opposing the church to the world, setting up a false dichotomy. Thus, I am not comfortable with answering this question the way it is presented.
Yet the issue of balance is important. I think we find balance in life when we do what our Lord commands, when we carry our Cross and follow Him so that, in losing our lives for the sake of the Gospel, we may gain them back. The Cross brings us balance and teaches us how to live in the world as we realize we are not of world. Caesarius of Arles and Saint Jerome offer some wonderful commentaries on this theme.
While there is much in the world to love, it is best loved in relation to the One Who made it. The world is beautiful, but much fairer is the One Who fashioned it. The world is glorious, but more delightful is the One by Whom the world was established. Therefore, let us labor as much as we can, beloved, that love of the world as such may not overwhelm us, and that we may not love the creature more than the Creator. God has given us earthly possessions in order that we may love him with our whole heart and soul [Caesarius of Arles on Mark 8:36].
Christ’s soldier marches on through good report and evil report, the one on the right hand and the other on the left. No praise elates him, no reproaches crush him. He is not puffed up by riches nor depressed by poverty. Joy and sorrow he alike despises [Saint Jerome on 2 Corinthians 6:8].
It is only by embracing the Cross that our Lord commands us to carry that we can find this balance. That is why we have the sacraments of the Church to help us get to this place. Reflect upon the thoughts presented in the above citations; seek counsel from your parish priest. May we all come to experience the Cross of our Lord as the balance we need in order to live in the world, while not being of the world.
The blessing of the Lord be upon you,