Dan Burke is an award-winning author, writer, and speaker on Catholic spirituality. He has written and/or edited nine books on faithful Catholic spirituality and is the Executive Director and writer for EWTN’s National Catholic Register. Dan is the president of the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, and the creator of Divine Intimacy Radio and SpiritualDirection.com.
In the Discalced Carmelite Propers today is the Feast of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) who was martyred during the Nazi persecution. At a time close to her death she penned an ominous reflection on the state of the world and of our need to abandon all to Christ. Though we are not in a world war now, we are no less in a battle for the soul of our country. On the stage of the world, in the past 100 years, more Christians have been martyred for their faith than in all previous centuries combined. Her words are worthy of reflection:
The world is in flames. The struggle between Christ and Antichrist rages openly, and so if you decide for Christ you can even be asked to sacrifice your life.
Contemplate the Lord who hangs before you on the wood because he was obedient even to the death of the Cross. He came into the world not to do his own will, but that of the Father. And if you wish to be the spouse of the Crucified, you must renounce completely your own will and have no other aspiration than to do the will of God.
Before you the Redeemer hangs on the Cross, stripped and naked, because he chose poverty. Those who would follow him must renounce every earthly possession.
Stand before the Lord who hangs from the Cross with his heart torn open. He poured out the blood of his heart in order to win your heart. In order to follow him in holy chastity, your heart must be free from every earthly aspiration. Jesus Crucified must be the object of your every longing, of your every desire, of your every thought.
The world is in flames: the fire can spread even to our house, but above all the flames the Cross stands on high, and it cannot be burnt. The Cross is the way which leads from earth to heaven. Those who embrace it with faith, love, and hope are taken up, right into the heart of the Trinity.
The world is in flames: do you wish to put them out? Contemplate the Cross: from the open Heart the blood of the Redeemer pours, blood which can put out even the flames of hell. Through the faithful observance of the vows, you make your heart free and open; and then the floods of that divine love will be able to flow into it, making it overflow and bear fruit to the furthest reaches of the earth.
Through the power of the Cross you can be present wherever there is pain, carried there by your compassionate charity, by that very charity which you draw from the Divine Heart. That charity enables you to spread everywhere the Most Precious Blood in order to ease pain, save, and redeem.
The eyes of the Crucified gaze upon you. They question you and appeal to you. Do you wish seriosly to renew your alliance with Him? What will your response be? ‘Lord, where shall I go? You alone have the words of life.’ Ave Crux Spes Unica!