Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Good Odour of Christ

1. Everyone has an attractive side to his personality which can draw others towards good or towards evil, for a man's behaviour, countenance, and conversation reflect his inner spirit. Charm is very often a mysterious and undefinable quality. Sometimes you may meet a man of the world who has forgotten that he has an immortal soul and lives purely for pleasure. Even before he speaks to you, you can read on his lips and in his eyes the kind of man he is. If you fail to resist and to do your best to remain on a higher plane, you will be overwhelmed by the charm of his personality.

You can also encounter charm, however, in a privileged soul who is in constant contact with God. You can find it in the monk who has left the world in order to meditate on God and to pray for his own salvation and for the salvation of his brothers in Christ. You can meet it in a Saint, one of those rare men who lives in the world but thinks all the time of God. When you encounter this supernatural charm, you experience a longing to be good and holy also.

You can see a reflection of Heaven in the eyes of a Saint. When he speaks to you, words which if uttered by somebody else would have no force, stir you and urge you towards all that is good. What exactly is this quality of attractiveness? It is "the sweet odour of Christ," the spiritual fragrance of virtue. Anyone who met St. Aloysius Gonzaga felt a yearning to be pure. Anyone who heard the unadorned sermons of the Cure d'Ars wept for his sins and was set on fire with the love of God and the desire of everlasting happiness. It was the same with all the Saints. Do we influence others in this way?

2. What quality of attraction do I possess? My behaviour is the mirror of my spiritual life. If I love God and am detached from the world, especially from sin, and if I practise mortification and strive to advance in the way of Christian perfection, my personality will influence others to do good. My good example rather than my words will have a spiritual appeal for others, so that I shall be a living sermon.

Words are heard, but example attracts. It is a great misfortune for me if my sins, tepidity or vices are the true reflection of my spiritual state and lead others into evil also.

3. 1 ought to examine the way in which I behave in the church, in my family, and in society. When I am in the church, my whole being should be absorbed in prayer. My mind should be occupied with God, my heart should love Him, and my lips should praise and thank Him. Anyone who sees me praying should wish to do the same.

When I am in my own home, I should promote peace and harmony by my good example. The family is like a miniature church in which everyone should exercise some priestly function in keeping with his position.

Finally, I should carry about in society `the good odour of Christ,' the fragrance of my interior holiness. I can do this if I am not ashamed of my Christian faith and if I act constantly in perfect accordance with the evangelical precepts.

When I have examined myself on these points, I should form resolutions which will help me to improve my behaviour.