Sunday, February 25, 2007

Fervour and Tepidity

1. The only choice in the life of a Christian is between fervour and sin. The tepid or negligent soul cannot remain long in the grace of God, and when God's grace is removed, it means the death of the soul. The spiritual life resembles a steep hill. A man cannot stay still. He must keep going upwards or begin to slip downwards. Whoever struggles on up the hill is approaching perfection and Heaven; whoever slips backwards is approaching sin and Hell. There is no middle way. Those who are lukewarm are an object of disgust to their Creator, Who casts them away from Himself. Because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, the Holy Spirit says, I am about to vomit thee out of my mouth. (Apoc. 3:16)

So it is not enough to be mediocre Christians. The half-hearted and indifferent are already travelling along the slippery path of sin and are on the waiting-list for Hell. It is dangerous for anyone to remain thoughtlessly in this state of spiritual ineptitude. A man who never thinks of his own salvation is suffering from a serious illness. He is running a grave risk of eternal damnation.

2. Our Lord does not command us to be merely virtuous. He commands us to be perfect. You therefore are to be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Mt. 5:48) He tells us to love Him with our whole heart and our whole soul. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul. (Mt. 22:37) He orders us to renounce everything rather than offend Him, (Luke 14:33) even to pluck out an eye or cut off a hand or foot if it should present an obstacle to our eternal salvation. (Mt. 18:8) How can we remain unmoved and inactive in face of these exhortations? The grade of perfection to which Our Lord calls us cannot be reached without His grace, which we can only obtain by fervent and unceasing prayer. Fervour is the animating principle of the spiritual life. It wins God's gifts for us and makes us almost immune from sin.

3. We can become fervent by eliminating the causes of tepidity. These are: (a) The lack of a living faith. The remedy is frequent meditation on the eternal truths in order to arouse our faith and make us think more constantly of Heaven. (b) The spirit of the world and inordinate attachment to worldly things, Which are like bonds restricting us in our advance towards God. Let us remember that the world passes away and cannot satisfy our souls which have been made for God. Let us seek Him, therefore and love Him above all. (c) Our lack of perseverence in doing good. It is not easy to preserve constant intimacy with God, even at times when we seem to have become spiritually dried up and deprived of all supernatural consolation. It is not easy to persevere in our resistance to the attractions of the world and of sin. It is not easy to pray constantly even when God does not seem to heed us. It is no wonder that we grow tired and discouraged. But let us remember that God rewards His faithful servants by making them fervent in prayer and in action. So let us be constant. We shall be rewarded with spiritual fervour, which will give us the joy and inner peace which conquer every obstacle and arc the prelude to unending happiness with God in Heaven.