From a letter by St Raymond of PenyafortGot your attention yet? He continues…
The preacher of God’s truth has told us that all who want to live righteously in Christ will suffer persecution. If he spoke the truth and did not lie, the only exception to this general statement is, I think, the person who either neglects, or does not know how, to live temperately, justly and righteously in this world.
May you never be numbered among those whose house is peaceful, quiet and free from care; those on whom the Lord’s chastisement does not descend; those who live out their days in prosperity, and in the twinkling of an eye will go down to hell.
Your purity of life, your devotion, deserve and call for a reward; because you are acceptable and pleasing to God your purity of life must be made purer still, by frequent buffetings, until you attain perfect sincerity of heart. If from time to time you feel the sword falling on you with double or treble force, this also should be seen as sheer joy and the mark of love.Does one not wonder about all the folks searching for God’s love but expecting to find it in exactly the opposite way?
The two-edged sword consists in conflicts without, fears within. It falls with double or treble force within, when the cunning spirit troubles the depths of your heart with guile and enticements. You have learned enough already about these kinds of warfare, or you would not have been able to enjoy peace and interior tranquility in all its beauty.
The sword falls with double and treble force externally when, without cause being given, there breaks out from within the Church persecution in spiritual matters, where wounds are more serious, especially when inflicted by friends.
This is the enviable and blessed cross of Christ, which Andrew, that manly saint, received with joyful heart; the cross in which alone e must make our boast, as Paul, God’s chosen instrument, has told us.
Look then on Jesus, the author and preserver of faith: in complete sinlessness he suffered, and at the hands of those who were his own, and was numbered among the wicked. As you drink the cup of the Lord Jesus (how glorious it is!), give thanks to the lord, the giver of all blessings.
May the God of love and peace set your hearts at rest and speed you on your journey; may he meanwhile shelter you from disturbance by others in the hidden recesses of his love, until he brings you at last into that place of complete plentitude where you will repose for ever in the vision of peace, in the security of trust and in the restful enjoyment of his riches.
This reading is a good reminder of what the reality of following Christ is about, as the Christmas season ends.