Let us begin with a brief review of the reflections we have considered during these first three weeks of the celebration proclaimed by yours truly, the Associate Pastor of the Western Hemisphere, of the Year of the Meek:
1) The land which is the inheritance promised in fulfillment of the hope of the meek is not real estate, but a home in Our Father’s House in the Kingdom of Heaven.
2) Here on earth our Mother, Holy Church, serves as threshold and doorway into the heavenly Mansions of Our Father’s House.
3) Those who cultivate the virtue of holy Meekness are not doormats abused and put upon by the cruelty of the worldly all around us; the holy meek are welcome mats, happy to join Our Saviour Jesus Christ in suffering for the love of God, inviting all comers to enter Our Father’s House by way of the sacrificial love we unhesitatingly offer to each of our brothers in the Faith, as well as to those potential brothers we hope to draw to the One Shepherd’s One Flock by our willingness to share in the Passion, Death, and Rising of the Lamb of God.
4) Eve became the first doormat when she let the devil walk all over her with his murderous lies; the Blessed Virgin Mary became the first Welcome Mat in her Immaculate Conception, by her very being – free from all sin by the power of her Divine Son’s Cross — crushing under her beautiful feet the hideous head of the internal serpent.
5) We cease to be doormats like Eve and become welcome mats like Mary through the waters of Baptism when the filth of sin is washed away by the Blood of the Lamb, and our souls are permanently marked with the Sign of welcome in the Kingdom of Heaven, the Sign of the Cross.
6) Both doormats and welcome mats get walked on, rained on, splattered with mud, frozen beneath snow, and left unthanked by the feet entering the door above us; the difference between them is that doormats complain and vainly desire to flee their post, while welcome mats stand fast and never cease to offer their welcome to any and all who make use of them.
7) Blessed are the meek welcome mats who imitate the littleness of the Infant Jesus, extending that blessing to any and all who allow them the blessing of imitating their Jesus as the meek Lamb led to the
slaughter of the Cross, by which the Father is pleased to recognize His Only-Begotten Son and the sons of His adoption who, ‘tho’ meek on earth, are destined to inherit the reign of the Almighty King of Heaven! Amen!
Now, speaking of might and kingship and reign, we ought also remember that the meek brothers of Jesus yet comprise His members in the Body of Christ on earth, the Church Militant. How, then, do meekness and militancy go together? How can a meek soldier hope to wage victorious warfare? How will an army of the meek do battle with the fury of the proud and yet remain meek? Meek soldiers of Christ begin where Jesus began His work of our salvation. Jesus begins as the humble Babe in the Manger, continues as the humble servant and teacher of the poor, and consummates His life in the humiliation atop Golgotha. Thus, His meek brothers are to be humble, to seek poverty, and to die to self.
The meek of the Kingdom of Heaven in the Church Militant on earth take as their marching orders the Word of God expressed in the Gospel of Saint Matthew in chapter eleven: The Kingdom of Heaven suffered violence, and the violent bear it away! Earth is a war zone. The meek are the foot soldiers in the army of the Kingdom of Heaven. The first territory, the first piece of land, in dispute between the righteous army of God and the denizens of satan out of hell is the very soul of each and every man born of woman. The violence by which is won the Kingdom of Heaven is first inflicted by the meek of the earth against the proud of the earth who desire to be meek.
No, this is not an incitement to attack one’s weaker, meeker neighbors. Before any other battle can be fought, much less won, the battle of self-possession must be waged and won. Saints receive possession of themselves before being honored with the greater gifts of the Kingdom of Heaven. This is eminently appropriate when we remember that man was first formed from the slime of the earth, and is reminded by God when being cast out of the earthly paradise that he is but dust and unto dust he shall return. One of the beauties of the Mercy of God’s salvation of mankind is that the return of man to dust is the means by which God glorifies man. Proud dust baptized in Christ ceases to be proud, loves to be meek, and in the wind, but eternal as God Himself is eternal! Man himself is part of the land of Heaven!
Meek soldiers of Christ do violence to themselves first and most and only. By doing so, the meek then spare their brothers the pain of pride inflicted by hypocrites pretending to be Christian who in fact are deserters to the cause and have enlisted in the ranks of satan. We learn from the example of Jesus and Mary and all of the Saints that the meek do not seek to impose their moods on others, nor do the meek wish to thrust their way on others, nor will the meek desire to force their fellows to endure their lack of grace. By grace, the meek extend peace to their neighbors, the meek silence their self-will, and the meek cause joy in the men around them by renouncing their own sins and forgiving the sins of even the unrepentant. Here are five simple skirmishes by which the proud dust in the mirror can be defeated each day, and a meek heir be joined all the more closely to Jesus and Mary:
1) Conquer your face: Looks can kill, so disarm your mug and don’t take pot shots at others by revealing how much of a sourpuss you feel like right now. Rather than having the soul-killing expression found on so many faces in the morning, in traffic, in response to gravity still being present on earth, bring life to your face and to the spirits of those around you by reminding yourself frequently that God is in His Heaven and His grace is at work upon His earth, including your face. Try not to look preoccupied, pensive, or pouty. Instead, make faces at other people that bring to mind the Face of God in whose image and likeness you were created and in whose image and likeness you were restored at Baptism and re-restored at each Confession.
2) Conquer your tongue: Think before you speak. Pray before you speak. Count to ten when you are angry. Count to one hundred when you are really mad. Count to a thousand when you are right and you want to make sure the other guy knows it. Anger leads to murder; angry words are weapons of murder. Saint John the Beloved teaches us that no murderer has a place in Heaven. By extension we can say that no one given to angry, murderous words has a place in Heaven. Meek and murder simply do not go together — unless it is the meek murdering his own willfulness.
3) Conquer your voice: Many people are quite capable of turning the sentence, “Have a nice day,” into a threat or an insult. Often it is not so much what we say as how we say it. Replace the vinegar in your voice with a taste of honey. Not only will it be savored more by your tongue, but it will sound all the sweeter in the ears of the people you have been commanded to love with the very Love of God. Sarcasm, spite, and skepticism are not on the menu in the eternal Banquet of Heaven; they ought not to be set on the table for the consumption of our neighbors on earth. And always remember how sweet is the gold of silence. Your neighbors, whom you love as yourself, will be twice as happy when you learn to use your ears twice as much as your mouth.
4) Conquer your mind: Think thoughts of peace, and not affliction. Shout down all of those thoughts whirling in your head that tempt you to complain, to express bitterness, to agree with being disagreeable.
When you get up in the morning, examine your thoughts to see if any stale leftovers from yesterday are stinking up your mind. If so, throw them out like last week’s trash. If you leave last week’s trash in your mind, then you will end up with nothing but trash talk to disgust anyone with the misfortune of being within earshot. As Saint Paul says, say only the good things men need to hear, emphasis on good and need. And remember, if you have nothing good to think, you will have nothing good to say. If you aren’t thinking at all, then what you say will be worth nothing at all toward salvation, but will suffice nicely for your condemnation.
5) Conquer your heart: To paraphrase Saint Augustine, love, then say what you will! All must speak from the heart. He who loves will speak precious treasures into the hearts of his loved ones, beginning with God in prayer, extolling Our Lady in song, and delighting his neighbor with words of wisdom and joy. Lovers love to send their beloved into a swoon by whispering sweet nothings to each other. Love God with heartfelt prayers. Love Mary with a child’s tender devotion to his Mother. Love your neighbor as you yourself wish to be loved with kind speech, wise advice, and understanding of faults and shortcomings. In the midst of your life, have many heart-to-heart talks wherein you share with those whom you love a heart that wishes more than anything else to listen to the secrets of other hearts, rather than being insistent that all others understand the morass and muddle in your own heart. You will discover that you are much more understandable to others when you learn to understand others. What others will come to understand is that you are all about love, and they will love you all the more for it. You will understand that after all your real desire is not to get loved, but to share love. The neat thing about sharing love is that love is shared even if only one person is doing the giving. If that sounds difficult to believe or to understand, give a few centuries’ thought to the fact that Jesus loves you while you nail Him to the Cross. Do for your neighbor the same as Jesus does for you!
Last week I mentioned that this week I would begin a series of reflections about yet another proclamation in my capacity as the Associate Pastor of the Western Hemisphere. Already I have declared 2010 to be the Year of the Meek. Now I declare, announce, and trumpet to all and sundry that 2010 the Year of the Meek shall have as its patroness Blessed Margaret of Castello! Little Margaret, as she is affectionately known, is a veritable poster child of meekness. Blind from birth, she saw nothing but the love of God in all the experiences of life. Hunchback and unlovely, Margaret moved countless souls by the compassion she showed to the rich, powerful, and able-bodied. Lame and halt of foot, she never grew weary of praising God for the chance to love Him in the many friends she met in her brief life. Astoundingly, even though she was abandoned by her parents, she never faulted them, always loved them, and never thought there was any need to forgive them, but rather to thank them for the fact that through them God brought into being Little Margaret.
If you are not blind, then you should be able to see the sense in trusting that God has not forgotten you in favor of watching sparrows fall out of trees. If you are not mentally deformed, you should have no problem in figuring out that a hardhearted fiend will get very little sympathy from others when he is in trouble, but the gentle little guy can count on a helping hand at least from the other little guys, especially the little guys in the Church Triumphant. If you are not a deviant, you should feel an overwhelming gratitude for the good people in your life, and not insult them by giving more thought to the pains of your existence then to the joy given you by the people who love you. If you are serious about being a Saint then the idea of holding a grudge on the way to Heaven will strike you as healthy and wise as trying to get a needle through the eye of the camel.
Little Margaret and her brothers in meekness are too small to be able to bear the burden of contempt for others. Little Margaret and her brothers in meekness are too small to be able to carry the weight of being right all the time, and the heavy responsibility that goes along with knowing too much does not appeal to them who find it all they can do to know the Love of God and the love of neighbor. Little Margaret and her brothers in meekness are too small to be able to see above the past the blessings God has placed in their way today to be able to look back on the molehills and the potholes that the hopeless will call the abyss tomorrow. Let us be just like Jesus, the same yesterday, today, and forever, meek and humble of heart, calling sweet the burden of loving all the days of our life, and called to see Light Himself in the endless day of His Kingdom in Heaven. Amen