St. Maria Goretti
Fr. Philip Neri Powell OP
St. Albert the Great, Irving
Fall to the ground and die. Lose your life. Hate the world. Not exactly the Hallmark Card affirmations we usually associate with Christian joy. Taken together these admonitions ground a philosophy of living that directly opposes the nihilism we breath in everyday. The 21st c. American version of nihilism produces entitled, emotion-driven, therapeutic, and narcissistic individuals who cannot imagine a world w/o their unique presence. It is easily the deadliest gas we can breath over time. As followers of Christ, everything we are and do is given in witness to our humility, our total and irrevocable dependence on God. Just being human persons striving for holiness is an incomparable witness to God's mercy. We cannot do it w/o Him. So, when Christ tells us to die to self, lose our lives, and hate the world, he is revealing a truth absolutely foundational to our salvation: I cannot be saved. You cannot saved. Only we can be saved and only then by becoming Christs in Christ. I cannot be both Christ and me at the same time. You cannot be both Christ and you at the same time. But together, we can be Christ – one body, one heart, one mind.
Paul asks, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” And then he teaches, “Whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.” If we are one body and one spirit with Christ, then we will suffer and triumph as he suffered and triumphed. Both our sufferings and our triumphs occur in the world, but their effects echo in eternity. So, we bear witness to them as sacraments of love – external signs of Christ's mission and ministry to die and live again for the sake of sinners. How do we bear witness to Christ? We get out of his way. We die to Self, surrendering the need to be the Star of a life that was never ours to begin with.