S. Benedict Joseph Labre
“The Spirit pushes us to take a more evangelical path but we resist this.” - Pope Francis
I found this quote on Spike is Best blog:
"The layperson is a layperson and has to live as a layperson with the power of baptism, which enables him to be a leaven of the love of God in society itself, to create and sow hope, to proclaim the faith, not from a pulpit but from his everyday life. And like all of us, the layperson is called to carry his daily cross — the cross of the layperson, not of the priest." --Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio in an interview, now Pope FrancisHis words resonate with my own sense of 'vocation' as a Catholic, as well as some of the things I've been reading by others, since Pope Francis was chosen to lead the Church.
As I've mentioned in the past, years ago I tried my vocation in religious life, attracted as I was by the call to 'pray without ceasing'. An attraction which led me away from enclosed monastic life in pursuit of life as a pilgrim. Inspired both by St. Benedict Joseph Labre, whose feast we celebrated yesterday, as well as the Russian type - popularized by 'the Baroness' Catherine Doherty. I failed in that too - although never giving up the hope to live a prayerful - some might be tempted to call it, contemplative life. I've failed in that too. But I keep trying.
"The power of Baptism... the strength of the Spirit."
At time I thought, "I must belong to something" - imagining being a baptized, confirmed Catholic wasn't enough. A third order maybe? So I was admitted to the Secular Franciscans and professed. Then a priest thought I should be a Secular Discalced Carmelite because of my knowledge of Carmelite spirituality and love of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. I obediently tried, obtaining permission to 'transfer' - but I dropped out. I was never able to live up to the social expectations.
To say I 'failed' at this or that is on one level a way of admitting I wasn't 'faithful' to what I was called to be. I tried to be what I thought I was supposed to be. You want to pray? Become a monk. I tried to fit a mold, to find a niche, to fit an expectation, to become something. All the while ignoring the immediate: ordinary life. It's about the sacrament of the present moment, and that kind of stuff.
All along my thoughts and prayers return to Benedict Joseph. Gradually I understood that my vocation is to be an ordinary layman, a baptised, confirmed, Roman Catholic layman. To embrace ordinary life. To be 'Christian' as my real name proclaims - a Christian in a secular world - right where I am. I had a wise spiritual director who recognized the action of grace in my soul and he agreed. This was long before I encountered the teachings of St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer.
‘No, we are Christians, I was baptized, I made Confirmation, First Communion ... I have my identity card alright. And now, go to sleep quietly, you are a Christian. But where is this power of the Spirit that carries us forward?” - Pope Francis, Homily, 4/17/13
When I began reading St. Josemaria, his 'Way' resonated with me immediately. For a moment I thought - "I should join Opus Dei!" Almost immediately I knew that wasn't my call, nor was it the response I needed to have to his 'spirituality'. Is his 'Way' really a particular school of spirituality? I've never asked anyone, so I don't know. I simply see it as practical direction on how to become a saint in today's world. Every school of spirituality the Church sanctions may be implemented by anyone I suppose, but I do not see 'customized' spiritualities as practical for myself, or the majority of laity. By customised I mean, that a Franciscan should only follow Franciscan teachings, Carmelites follow Teresian, and so on. I'm probably wrong about that - so pay no attention to it. Nevertheless, it helps to explain why I do not believe there can be a special 'gay spirituality'. But that's another post.
Pope Francis said we need to be, “faithful to the Spirit, to proclaim Jesus with our lives, through our witness and our words.” - Vatican Radio
There is no great point to this post except to say that I think what the Pope said while still a Cardinal goes very well with what St. Josemaria taught about the ordinary layman's proper and specific role in the Church. In an interview Escriva said:
"I simply point out, because a complete doctrinal exposition would take a long time, that Opus Dei is not interested in vows, or promises, or any form of consecration for its members apart from the consecration which all have already received through baptism. - St. JosemariaFurthermore, similar to St. Paul's exhortation in one of his Letters, St. Josemaria taught: No change in one's state in life. Nothing different from ordinary faithful Catholics. Each person should and can sanctify himself and evangelise in and through his own particular state in life. In the place and condition he finds himself in the Church and society. As the Pope said:
"The layperson is a layperson and has to live as a layperson with the power of baptism, which enables him to be a leaven of the love of God in society itself, to create and sow hope, to proclaim the faith, not from a pulpit but from his everyday life. And like all of us, the layperson is called to carry his daily cross — the cross of the layperson, not of the priest." --Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio in an interview, now Pope Francis
I'll be writing my thoughts about this going forward.