THE PRACTICE OF THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST
XXX.-HE THAT LOVES JESUS CHRIST SEEKS TO DETACH HIMSELF FROM EVERY CREATURE
To arrive at a perfect union with God, a total detachment from creatures is of absolute necessity. And to come to particulars, we must divest ourselves of all inordinate affection towards relations. Jesus Christ said: If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple -(Luke xiv. 26). And wherefore this hatred to relations? Because, generally, as regards the interests of the soul, we cannot have greater enemies than our own kindred: And a man’s enemies shall be those of his own household-(Matt. x. 36). St. Charles Borromeo deelared that he never went to pay a visit to his own family without returning cooled in fervour. And when Father Antony Mendoza was asked why he refused to enter the house of his parents, he replied, “Because I know, by experience, that nowhere is the devotion of a Religious so dissipated as in the house of his parents.”
When, moreover, the choice of a state of life is concerned, it is certain that we are not obliged to obey our parents, according to the doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas. Should a young man be called to the Religious life, and find opposition from his parents, he is bound to obey God, and not his parents, who, as the same St. Thomas says, with a view to their own interests and private ends, stand in the way of our spiritual welfare. “Friends of flesh and blood are oftentimes opposed to our spiritual profit.” And they are content, says St. Bernard, to have their children go to eternal perdition rather than that they should leave home.
It is surprising, in this matter, to see some fathers and mothers, even though God-fearing, yet so blinded by mistaken fondness, that they use every effort and exhaust every means to hinder the vocation of a child who wishes to become a Religious. This conduct, however (except in very rare cases), cannot be excused from grievous sin. But someone may say: What, then, and if such a youth does not become a Religious can he not be saved? Are, then, all who remain in the world cast away? I answer: Those whom God does not call into Religion may be saved in the world by fulfilling the duties of their state; but those who are called from the world and do not obey God may, indeed, possibly be saved; but they will be saved with difficulty, because they will be deprived of those helps which God had destined for them in Religion, and for want of which they will not accomplish their salvation. The theologian Habert writes that he who disobeys his vocation remains in the Church like a member out of joint, and cannot discharge his duty without the greatest pain; and so will hardly effect his salvation. Whence he draws this conclusion: “Although, absolutely speaking, he can be saved, yet he will enter on the way, and employ the means of salvation, with difficulty.”
The choice of a state of life is compared by Father Lewis of Granada to “the main-spring” of a watch: if the main-spring be broken, the whole watch is out of order; and the same holds good with regard to our salvation,-if the state of life be out of order, the whole life is out of order too. Alas, how many poor youths have lost their vocation through their parents, and have afterwards come to a bad end, and have themselves proved the ruin of their family!