Summary: Our spiritual life, our moral life must be built on the sold foundation of Christ’s law of love, and maintained and grown by frequent prayer, confession and communion.
Thursday of the 12th Week in Course 2018
Build on rock or build on sand? Who on earth would build on sand? The idea is you build on something that isn’t going to move around. Get on Sunset Road, just west of here, right past Hwy 281. It’s like driving on gelatin. This whole area is dotted with the kind of porous limestone that washes out–makes little caves under the surface. When it does that, any pavement laid on top drops. Contrast that with the office building being built just this side of 281. You see they have sunk pillars down far into the bedrock. That building will not shift around. Our spiritual life, our moral life must be built on the sold foundation of Christ’s law of love, and maintained and grown by frequent prayer, confession and communion.
In the 16th century the Church’s superstructure had not been properly maintained. The foundation in Christ was still there, but there were holes in the floors and walls and ceiling. That’s the proximate cause of the Protestant revolution. But there was real reform happening, as well. We know that many of the religious orders had fallen on hard times because they were straying from the Gospel and the spirit of their foundation. But the Holy Spirit never leaves the Church alone; that same spirit was stirring up younger members of these religious orders to bring about true reform.
Let’s go to Spain and consider the Franciscans there. Everyone knows that St. Francis was a model of the spirit of poverty. But people get old and die, and if they have wealth and have benefitted from the Franciscans, they leave property and money to the order. That means the successors can get fat and prosperous, losing the spirit of the founder. Maybe not sinning, but certainly straying from the rigor of the foundation.
Enter Peter. Tomorrow is the Solemnity of Peter and Paul; Peter of Alcantara was named for the prince of apostles. Peter was born right at the close of the fifteenth century. He was just sixteen when he returned from the University of Salamanca, full of zeal for Christ. He joined the Franciscans of the Stricter Observance, and ordained at age 25. Before he was forty he was in an even stricter community. Remember, Franciscans want to follow Jesus Christ, and that means a radical appropriation of His poverty, celibacy, obedience, and way of life. That’s what Peter wanted. It is said that he slept sitting up, only ninety minutes a day, and took very little food. “When he was close to death, Peter took to his knees and prayed. When he was offered water he refused it saying, ‘Even my Lord Jesus Christ thirsted on the Cross.’
Now when you give up something good, like food or sleep, you must put something else in its place. Peter substituted adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for sleep. Thus he is one of the patrons of the practice of nocturnal adoration. As the Protestant revolutionaries were preaching a diminished appreciation of the Eucharist, God was raising up men and women who would focus their attention and preaching on the Real Presence of Christ. In other words, instead of fighting the negative, live and preach the positive.
As our culture more and more denies the truths of the faith, and leads men and women and youth into sinful, self-destructive behaviors, we may find that instead of preaching doom and gloom on the streetcorners, it is more effective to pray, lead exemplary lives, and counsel the bewildered as we can. God will work miracles in our day, but only if we listen to His call.