Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness. For about a hundred years we have so concentrated on one of the virtues—“kindness” or mercy—that most of us do not feel anything except kindness to be really good or anything but cruelty to be really bad. Such lopsided ethical developments are not uncommon, and other ages too have had their pet virtues and curious insensibilities. And if one virtue must be cultivated at the expense of all the rest, none has a higher claim than mercy. . . The real trouble is that “kindness” is a quality fatally easy to attribute to ourselves on quite inadequate grounds. Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment. Thus a man easily comes to console himself for all his other vices by a conviction that “his heart’s in the right place” and “he wouldn’t hurt a fly,” though in fact he has never made the slightest sacrifice for a fellow creature. We think we are kind when we are only happy: it is not so easy, on the same grounds, to imagine oneself temperate, chaste, or humble. You cannot be kind unless you have all the other virtues. If, being cowardly, conceited and slothful, you have never yet done a fellow creature great mischief, that is only because your neighbour’s welfare has not yet happened to conflict with your safety, self-approval, or ease. Every vice leads to cruelty.
From The Problem of Pain
Compiled in Words to Live By
The Problem of Pain. Copyright © 1940, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright restored © 1996 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
The Sundays We Celebrate: Emmaus Sunday
APRIL 27, 2019
And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”
Recommended Reading: Luke 24:13-35
Some of the best-known words in Christian hymnody were penned by John Newton in his poem, “Amazing Grace”: “I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.” Many Christians have expressed similar sentiments upon believing in Christ: “I finally saw Christ for who He really is.”
One wonders whether John Newton had in mind the experience of two followers of Jesus on the day of the Resurrection. The resurrected Christ joined them on the road to Emmaus, though they didn’t recognize Him. They expressed confusion over events in Jerusalem, how the leaders had put Jesus to death. So “beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27). As they broke bread together, “their eyes were opened and they knew Him” (verse 31).
Have your eyes been opened to the reality of who Jesus is? Don’t let this Easter season pass without encountering Jesus through faith in Him.
The heavens declare Thy glory, Lord, in every star Thy wisdom shines; but when our eyes behold Thy Word, we read Thy Name in fairer lines.
Quote: "Let me look at the foulness and ugliness of my body. Let me see myself as an ulcerous sore running with every horrible and disgusting poison." (Ignatius Loyola)
A small boy when Columbus first set sail, Ignatius Loyola (1491 - 1556) grew up in a world filled with possibility and exploding with geographical and mechanical discoveries. As the founder of the Society of Jesus—known simply as the Jesuits—he formed a militaristic missionary organization demanding strict discipline and loyalty. He set the pace for Catholic outreach worldwide, and before he died there were Jesuits scattered across Europe and serving in outposts as remote as India, Japan, and Brazil.
Born into nobility in the Basque country of Spain, Loyola is schooled in the Spanish court and steeped in military training and the art of chivalry. But the excitement of training soon turns into the horrors of a war in which his shin is shattered by a cannonball. He endures excruciating primitive surgery with no anesthetic, leaving him with constant pain and a lifelong limp.
In his early thirties, while recuperating, he reads biographies, including Stories of the Saintsand Life of Christ. He is particularly impressed by the lives of two monastic leaders, Francis and Dominic, who founded religious orders. He vows to become a soldier of Christ, living a life of holy chivalry devoted to the Virgin Mary. To confirm his calling, he takes a pilgrimage to religious shrines that end in a remote village. There he lives in seclusion—tempted, as he later relates, to take his own life. Yet he continues to seek God, retiring to a cave where he prays for hours and experiences visions that reassure him in his faith.
His fame spreads through his writing, particularly his still-influential Spiritual Exercises. Here he lays out a path to piety, reflecting on his own spiritual life and the necessity of absolute obedience to Christ. Spiritual Exercises does not offer a warm and fuzzy spirituality; its purpose is to lay the groundwork for devout and disciplined discipleship. The subject matter is designed to fit a four-week retreat, focusing first on sin, followed by Christ's earthly kingship, his passion, and his reign as risen Lord. The exercises are designed not only for those who would become Jesuits but also for lay people.
In the following years he travels and studies theology at various universities. Collecting a band of followers, he stirs suspicions and is questioned by the Inquisition. In fact, he is twice briefly imprisoned. In 1534 he and six companions unite together and take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to the pope.
In 1539 they travel to Rome and receive the blessing of the Pope Paul III, who officially sanctions the Society of Jesus. Their absolute obedience to the pope comes in a "special vow" that Jesuits, unlike other orders, are required to obey—vowing to "take upon ourselves, beyond the bond common to all the faithful, a special vow . . . meant so to bind that whatsoever the present Roman Pontiff and his successors may command us concerning the advancement of souls and the spreading of the faith, we shall be obliged to obey instantly."
Distinct from most other religious orders, the Jesuits do not require a monk's cowl or any other religious uniform, nor are daily liturgies or fasting or penance part of the religious routine. They follow the Spiritual Exercises, with its focus on an intense period of prayer and meditation. Though Loyola does not establish an order for women, he does donate money for the establishment of the House of St. Martha, which helps prostitutes leave their profession and reunite with their families or join in the ministry.
Missionary outreach becomes the hallmark of the Jesuits as they spread out across the globe from India and Japan to South America, Africa, and French Canada. Loyola serves as Superior General, heading up the vast administrative duties from his office in Rome. Before he dies, he drafts the Constitutions, a lengthy and detailed rulebook that clearly differentiates Jesuits from the other monastic orders that require a strict ascetic life style. Mobility is the key to Jesuit effectiveness. As the church militant, cloistered monasticism simply is not their way of serving Jesus. By the time of his death in 1556, there are more than a thousand Jesuits, and within decades the membership exceeds ten thousand.