Tuesday, January 27, 2015

He who suffers in us . . .

Real meditation on the passion always becomes suffering with Christ, Caryll Houselander tells us.  To draw close to the suffering Christ is never easy; nor is it without real sorrow and pain.  We are all "other Christs" - but not all know it and in this life of ours we shall act in different parts as all those who entered into his first passion did.  Some find comfort in the knowledge that they are one with Him and can face every onslaught, knowing that he who is in them has overcome the world.  Others will grasp the even harder truth that whatever we do now, we did to Christ in his passion.  All things are present to him and in Gethsemane he saw our world now, feared with our fear and the angel who brought the chalice brought all that any of us would do to comfort him.  We do this when we recognize him in our suffering but especially when we serve and love him in our neighbor.  

It is never easy to meditate on the passion; the more we know of real sorrow and real pain, the more we see of suffering, the more difficult it becomes to think about the pain and sorrow of Christ.

Indeed, it becomes impossible, because once we know inwardly, with our hearts, not only our minds, how real Christ is - and what suffering is - we can no longer bear to have beautiful thoughts about the suffering Christ.  The mind becomes bleak, we begin to suffer with him - and that is what real meditation on the passion always becomes, suffering with him.

It is more than that, it is actually Christ suffering in us.  We are united to him, we are one, and it is when his passion becomes real to us, through experience and love, that we grow aware of his presence in us.  But for this presence of Christ, his living in us, his actually being our life, we could not bear the things which have actually happened to some, indeed to many, and which are more than a threat to everyone.  We can bear them for one reason only, because Christ, Who is identified with us, Who is in us, has already suffered and overcome everything that we shall suffer, or ever can suffer.

We cannot shed a tear, but that tear has already blinded the eyes of Christ.  We cannot be without tears, but that constriction of the heart has constricted his Heart.  He has known all and every kind of fear that we know, and there is no possible loneliness, no agony of separation, but it is Christ's; indeed, not one of us can die, but it is Christ dying.  And Christ, Who faces all these things in our lives, has overcome them all and has sanctified them by his limitless love.  His love made every moment of his passion redeeming and healing and life-giving, and this love, this Chirst-love, is ours, just as much as his suffering is.

We are now beginning in very earnest to experience the contemplation which consists in suffering with Christ, and the way to sanctify it is not so much to offer with him as to ask him to let us realize that he it is Who suffers in us.  For, this understood, we cannot help abandoning our will to his completely, and letting him suffer in us in his way, and his way is the way of love.  Complete though it is, in his grief there is no bitterness; and what seems to be frustration and waste is not, it is fruitful; this is because every moment of his passion is informed by love.

Our work is to love too, to love always, to love everyone, and to love to the end.

The words spoken by Our Lord on the cross reveal far more that we can hope to grasp; they are in themselves enough to show us how to live through his experience of his passion . . .  .That is the only excuse for tearing the mind away from its direct, unthinking acceptance of our present suffering, to consider some of Christ words on the cross, one by one.

Caryll Houselander

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