Thursday, November 16, 2006

The hidden sacrifice

The current issue of Catholic World Report features an article I wrote about unvowed chastity — the chastity of one who hopes for marriage and at the same time realizes that one's future, married or not, is in God's hands. I wrote it partly in response to those in the Catholic world who assert that chastity lacks spiritual significance or a sense of purpose unless it is sealed with a vow. Here is an excerpt:

When it comes to faith, God recognizes no mushy middle. The Bible is filled with exhortations to take a stand, perhaps most eloquently in Revelation 3, when Jesus tells the Laodicean church to be cold or hot — but not lukewarm.

On the other hand, the Bible makes clear that our life on Earth, on the other hand is an ongoing study in reconciliation. “I have been a stranger in a strange land,” said Moses, and God’s people have always been strangers among the worldly. The Lord wants us to rely solely upon Him for direction, as David writes in the 25th Psalm: “Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net.”

In other words, as I see it, we are supposed to be absolutely certain of where we stand — but not so sure about where we’re going. ...

A friend of mine, while training me to volunteer at a charity that helped homebound senior citizens, warned me not to assume that a healthy-looking client was able to take good care of himself. “Not all disabilities are visible,” she said.

In the same way, not all abilities are visible. It is impossible to tell from observing someone’s life what spiritual graces that person has received. "The world admires only spectacular sacrifice," wrote St. Josemaria Escriva, "because it does not realize the value of sacrifice that is hidden and silent."