Wednesday, June 09, 2010

"If anyone wishes to follow me...


Let him deny his very self..." [Mk. 8:34-35]
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"Oh who can make this counsel of our Saviour understandable... Oh who can explain the extent of the denial our Lord wishes of us..." - John of the Cross
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I have some sections of John of the Cross nearly memorized, so often do I ruminate upon them, as I do with Scripture.  Such as, "Not everyone can accept this teaching, only those to whom it is given to do so..." [Matt 19:11]  And, "This sort of talk is hard to endure!  How can anyone take it seriously?" [...]  Jesus said; "My doctrine is not my own; it comes from him who sent me.  Any man who chooses to do his will will know about this doctrine... whoever speaks on his own is bent on self-glorification." [Jn. 6:60,66; 7:16,18]
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People tell me I take passages out of context, or take them too literally, or that John of the Cross was writing for contemplatives and about contemplative prayer and the renunciation needed to reach union with God.  Whatever.  I repeat:  Oh if only people understood the extent of the denial our Lord calls us to...  This negation must be similar to a complete temporal, natural, sensual and spiritual death - that is in reference to the esteem of the will: the disordered attractions and affections and appetites. (My liberty with John's text.  Ascent, Bk II, Chp 7:6)
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That's all I have to say today concerning yesterday's post "The End of Homophobia".   Although I'll conclude with the following:
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12. What, then, are homosexual persons to do who seek to follow the Lord? Fundamentally, they are called to enact the will of God in their life by joining whatever sufferings and difficulties they experience in virtue of their condition to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross. That Cross, for the believer, is a fruitful sacrifice since from that death come life and redemption. While any call to carry the cross or to understand a Christian's suffering in this way will predictably be met with bitter ridicule by some, it should be remembered that this is the way to eternal life for all who follow Christ. - On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, CDF

Self denial is not  'self-hate'.
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Art:  John of the Cross.  An image of Christ carrying the cross spoke to John, asking him to make any request of Jesus whatsoever, and he would grant it, and John asked, "To suffer and be despised."  Oh!  Who?  Who can explain the extent of the denial our Lord wishes of us...

8 comments:

  1. Isn't everyone called to self-denial?

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  2. Yes. "it should be remembered that this is the way to eternal life for all who follow Christ." - CDF Document

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  3. Everyone is called to self denial. Everyone is called to pick up and carry the cross. It will be a different cross for each. For some it will be same-sex attraction, or inappropriate sexual attraction, or a desire to overeat, or overspend, or to hurt somebody else, or to contemplate ending a marriage or pregnancy, or to be bitter because one isn't whole, or beautiful, or talented. The list is endless.

    Yet we are encouraged by our modern, progressive thinkers to consider some varieties of sin or disorder to be sinless.

    It cannot be done. It will not hold. Sin is sin. God is God. We choose one or the other.

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  4. St. John of the Cross pulls "no punches"...we either do our purgatory here on earth (through penance and self-denial) or in the next...it's our choice.
    Following Jesus is not all "butterflies and rainbows" (LOL!)
    It's about the serious work of conversion, which can be like severing a limb. Yeah. Ouch!

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  5. scuppered5:03 PM

    "Got to pay your dues if you want to sing the blues, and you know it don't come easy".
    Words from the prophet Ringo, I think.

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  6. So so so so so so so true.

    Chesterton said something like, it's not that the world has tried Christianity and found it wanting, but that they have tried it and found it too hard!

    Thank God for the grace He sends, or I'd have given up long time ago.

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  7. Self-denial and love, all so united as they are (for the lover denies themselves for the beloved) are central to my own theological explorations. Sadly, in an age of consumerism... it's a difficult message to get across.

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  8. +JMJ+

    Terry, this is a beautiful post--and yet the one thing echoing in my mind is the line . . .

    Denial is not a river in Egypt!

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