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The Friendship of Christ
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The Friendship of Christ
The following pages contain in all abbreviated form sermons preached in Rome in the Church of St., Silvestro-in-Capite, during the year of 1911. Some of them were also preached in the Carmelite Church in Kensington in 1910; and all of them, With others, in the Church of our Lady of Lourdes, New York, in 1912. The author apologises for the the much compressed form in which they are printed here; but he has sought to suggest rather than to develop the thoughts of which he treats. Part 1 is Christ in the Interior Soul. It considers the Friendship of Christ, then the purgative and illuminative ways of the spiritual life. Then we move to Christ in the Exterior, which considers His holy presence in the Eucharist, the Church, the priest, the saint, the sinner, the average man and then the sufferer. ?IT seems inconceivable at first sight that a relationship, which in any real manner can be called a friendship, should be possible between Christ and the soul. Adoration, dependence, obedience, service, and even imitation all these things are imaginable; but until we remember that Jesus Christ took a human soul like our own ? a soul liable to joy and to sorrow, open to the assaults of passion and temptation, a soul that actually did experience heaviness as well as ecstasy - the pains of obscurity as well as the joys of clear vision - until this becomes to us, from a dogmatic fact apprehended by faith, a vital fact perceived by experience, a full realization of His friendship is out of the question.? Yes, Jesus is our Friend! ?And, extremely often, the first sign that the Way of Purgation has been really entered, lies in a consciousness that there is beginning for her an experience which the world calls Disillusionment. It may come in a dozen different ways.? This may sound strange, but indeed there are trials in the spiritual life. ?She may, for example, be brought face to face with some catastrophe in external matters. She may meet with an unworthy priest, a disunited congregation, some scandal in Christian life, in exactly that sphere where Christ seemed to her evidently supreme. She had thought that the Church must be perfect, because it was the Church of Christ, or the priesthood stainless because it was after the Order of Melchisedech; and she finds to her dismay that there is a human side even to those things that are most associated with Divinity on earth.? There are other things that can disillusion us, but Monsignor Benson helps us through these trials. ?The next stage of Purgation lies in what may be called, in a sense, the Disillusionment with Divine things. The earthly side has failed her, or rather has fallen off from the reality; now it begins to seem to her as if the Divine side failed her too. A brilliant phrase of Faber well describes one element in this Disillusionment - the "monotony of Piety."? Let us not suffer the shipwreck here described: ?The way of the spiritual path is strewn with the wrecks of souls that might have been friends of Christ. This one faltered, because Christ put off his ornaments; this one because Christ did not allow her to think that His graces were Himself; a third because wounded pride still writhed, and bade her be true to her own shame rather than to His glory. All these stages and processes are known; every spiritual writer that has ever lived has treated of them over and over again from this standpoint or from that. But the end and lesson of them all is the same - that Christ purges His friends of all that is not of Him; that He leaves them nothing of themselves, in order that He may be wholly theirs; for no soul can learn the strength and the love of God, until she has cast her whole weight upon Him.?