Over the history of the church there has been numerous “charisms” or “ways of life.” The older orders of the Benedictines, the Franciscans, the Carmelites, and the Dominicans as well as the Jesuits have been the bulwarks of Christendom over the past centuries but it seems that they have lost something deep in their souls in recent times and many of them have succumbed to the “spirit of the age.” This “spirit” is diabolical and it has infiltrated not only these religious orders but the Vatican and most of our secular institutions. We as Catholics find ourselves facing a very harsh world.

By our baptism, we are called to be “priests, prophets, and kings. We are to put on Jesus Christ; “And do this because you know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” (Romans 13:11-14). By our baptism we are called to live a certain way.

The prophet Micah gives us a description of a man of God;

You have been told,

O man, what is good,

and what the Lord

requires of you:

Only to do justice

and to love goodness,

and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8

A Christian in this post Christendom world should be one who embodies these ideals; justice, goodness, and humility. We are pilgrims in this world and even though the world is shipwrecked, we must live and act as people of God.  As a faithful man or woman of God, we walk through the world seen and unseen. We are active in the world and then we retreat to our solitude. It is this tension between activity and solitude that becomes the spiritual life for us. 

Christian’s today must find a way to cultivate stillness but at the same time remain active in the world. Christians cannot totally remove themselves from the world. Despite what the secular world believes, the world needs the Christian. “Christianity is to the world what the soul is to the body.”[1] I see the marginalization of Christianity as an opportunity for us to finally do the work that God calls us to do which is to spread the Good News, feed the poor, help the widow and the orphan and build the Kingdom of God.

I think the peace prayer associated with St. Francis is very appropriate for our times;

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy; 

O Divine Master,

Grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love. 

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. 


The Narrow Path

The early Christians of the first century were known as “the people of the Way” and they regarded themselves as the “anawim” (poor ones) of the Old Testament. Jesus came to show us the “Way” and He tells us; “Enter through the narrow gate for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many.  How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).

The Narrow Gate leads to interior solitude. It is a way that leads to spiritual transformation and self-knowledge. The Narrow Gate could also be seen as a “way of the cross” for it leads to our own “Golgotha” where we would die to ourselves and rise again renewed in Christ.

What is known of the Narrow Gate is this, the way is difficult. Walking this path presents challenges but also offers blessings. Some parts of the path will be easy while others will try us to the core of our being as we go through the fires of refining transformation. One thing will always be true, there will be a change but how it is to be accomplished will vary from individual to individual.

The goal of the Narrow Gate is not only to lead us to Heaven but to lead us into “interior solitude,” where we enter the “cave of our heart” to confront the darkness that dwells within and to overcome with the “Light of Christ.” Ultimately, the goal is to always live from the center of our heart and to become a “servant of God.”

If we knew in advance the difficulties, the fears, the sufferings it would be too overwhelming for us and that is why no one willingly enters through the Gates. That is why Christ said that there are few who travel upon it. It takes the catalyst of some life experience, a divorce or death of a loved one, an illness or the empty feeling of waking up one morning and realizing that youth is far behind and old age is upon you, anyone of these things and more can set you upon the path through the Narrow Gate. But and there is always a but, the choice of proceeding always depends upon the individual because to move forward requires a letting go of “desires” and “pride” and unfortunately there are many who are unwilling to let go. They would rather take the easy path to their doom. It also takes faith in God to guide us into the unknown because as we stand at the beginning of the path it looks bleak and the terrain hostile. We cannot rely on our own skills or strength but only on the Grace of God. Those who take the first steps through the Narrow Gate are following their hearts and seek to discover the deep longing that they feel in the depths of their being.

The Narrow Gate is for the brave of heart who wish to walk this narrow path of Jesus Christ that leads to salvation. In the end, the Narrow Gate will lead to death. This should not be surprising. First, the death is of the self, the ego and second, the death of our physical existence. We change only in death, mystically and physically and this path leads all the way to Golgotha were our weaknesses, flaws, fears, anxieties, and our false self are nailed to the cross of Christ where they are transformed and purified by the “Blood of the Lamb.” We are then restored to the “Original Grace” and goodness that was lost by our original parents.

The Narrow Gate leads to the mystery of the cross and to the transformation of the Resurrection. This is a mystical journey that takes us into the darkness to seek the “Eternal Flame of God” that burns upon the altar found in the cave of our heart. This journey ends in transformation from death to eternal life. 

So, the world is awash with diabolical spirits and a Cosmic War is raging upon this earth and the only people who are left to face the enemy are those who stand firm in the faith and who embody justice, love goodness, and walk humbly with their God. When we enter through the Narrow Gates we are entering into the fight, a fight to preserve what is Right, True and Beautiful in God’s creation. So then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Fight the good fight and stay true to your Baptismal Calling.

[1] Letter to Diognetus: The full quote reads; “To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.”

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