“A witness to Christ in a world seemingly on its way to faithlessness.” These words were written about the man who is the focus for our prayer for August. This former conscript to the revolutionary army of France was from peasant stock, did not take well to Latin and was not a particularly bright chap from any academic perspective. Yet when he died, he was mourned by thousands and not only for his life of deep compassion and kindness. He was a man of deep Christian conviction and clear teaching. He provided profound spiritual insight and clear Christian teaching for the countless people who visited him in his simple parish Church in Ars. He gave himself relentlessly in over forty years to all who sought his advice and counsel. His advice and counsel however can be described in a very simple formula; “Give your heart to Jesus.”
Men and women have not changed greatly since the time of the Cure d’Ars. The externals and trappings of materialism and modernity have of course and folk no longer wear clogs (although given half a chance Glyn Roberts would be back in his, sparking the cobbles up the Bower!) We who occupy the twenty- first century are still driven by the same human impulses that paradoxically generate love and hate, kindness and meanness, joy and sorrow, laughter and tears, fear and uncertainty and greed and generosity. So it is the case that the same very simple message of the Cure is needed; “Give your heart to Jesus.”
The primary mission of the Church is to signpost this destination.
However, this does not require winning a debate. What we believe about Jesus that is contained in the Gospels and set forth in the Creeds is essential in this mission. It is our starting point and we Christians need to be courageous in identifying the Faith as the impetus to any good works that we undertake to alleviate the suffering of others. But the mission also involves encouraging men and women to consider their own spiritual life and find a meaning and purpose deeper than that in social activism. In his earthly ministry Jesus taught his disciples about prayer, healing and the restoration of fractured souls, the need to be born again, about sin, about judgement, and discovering the never-ending mercy and love of God. It seems to me that there is as much need for this in the world today as ever it was in the days of the humble priest of Ars.
Keep the Faith