Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Accolade of Christian Knighthood

IF YOU READ THROUGH THE LONG list of St Paul's mortifications (2 Cor 11), or "infirmities", as he calls them, by which he vindicates his title to apostleship, you will find that whereas some of them are due to persecution from without, many of them refer merely to the incidental discomforts - cold, sleeplessness, shipwreck, and so on - which were incidental to a busy life like his ... "Whom the Lord loves, he chastises," he tells us and again, "If you are without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are you no true sons." In a word, suffering of some kind is the badge of the Christian profession, the accolade of the Christian knighthood (emphasis added). Suffering, to be sure, is the common lot of mortality, but Christians - I mean good Christians - will suffer more than their neighbours, because they are less indulgent to themselves, less sparing of their personal comfort, more sensitive to the needs of others. And they have, too, a warfare to fight against spiritual enemies, all the more painful because they are really in earnest about it, because they really care.

As chastised, and not killed, Servants of Christ, we must embrace, with sublime confidence, his assurance that not one hair of our heads can fall to the ground without the will of our heavenly Father (Mtt 19,30). The providence that watched over our Lord in his helpless infancy, the providence which he trusted so utterly amidst the dangers which surrounded him, has watched over his Church all through the ages, will watch over us when all hope seems lost and all prayers unanswered. The eternal God is our refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.

- Ronald A. Knox

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