Monday, March 31, 2014

The Least in the House of God
Ven. Solanus Casey (1870-1957)

 "I chose to be cast down in the house of my God rather than to live myself in the tents of sinners."--Ps 83:11b

The great temptation against us is this: will we choose to enjoy the delights of the wicked or the reproach of the righteous?  "You cannot serve both God and mammon," as Christ declared.  We must serve the Lord despite all obstacles, despite all pains, rather than delight in the riches of the wicked.  For the riches of the wicked are not true riches: they are rather fool's gold that will not outlast death; they are the treasures which moth will eat, rust will corrupt, thief will steal.  In the end, all such riches will be stripped from us, and we will stand before God with only His riches.  What are His riches?  The riches of righteousness, the riches of holiness, the riches of the Truth.

"Lord, God of powers, blessed the man who hopes in You!"  Blessed the man whose riches are in You!  For the riches of the world will perish, but the riches of God will remain forever.  So often, though, we are tempted by the riches of this world, for they delight our senses, as the fruit tempted Eve.  Yet to be holy we must reject their allure and instead place all our hope on the Lord, despite all afflictions.  For the wicked can cause us pain in this world if we do not dwell within their tents, but they cannot give pain to our soul, and we are to fear the one who can destroy both body and soul.  Even having the greatest earthly wealth will not save one's soul.  And that is why the least in the house of God, in the kingdom of God, is greater than the richest in the sinner's tents.

A Christian must then not despise being lowly, if he is still in God's house.  Salvation is a greater price than any earthly glory or wealth.  Thus even the doorkeepers can become saints, like André Bessette and Solanus Casey (who is on the way).  If this applies in the Church at large, it applies even more so within God's house, the chapel.  "Everything to do with the church is like an inner fire enkindling us, and looking after it is the best work of all," as St. Seraphim of Sarov said.  "The humblest job, be it only to clean the floor of the house of God, is a nobler work than all others."  The point cannot be said better than that.

For the one who dwells with God hopes in Him and trusts in Him.  Though he is lowly, though he is cast down and abject, he is still loved by God.  For we know that God enlightens all His children and "makes them children of the light, sharers of [His] Divine Nature"; He even "converses with them as with [His] true and trusted friends."  Let us say with St. Symeon the New Theologian, "These things make me bold, O my Christ, these things give me wings!"  The greatness He bestows on even the least of His servants is wondrous to behold.

So let us always recite David's declaration, and let us always live up to it, for even the one cast down in the house of God is infinitely greater than the one who is high in the tents of the wicked.  But even the most wicked can claim that glory through repentance.  Let us, too, persist in repentance, and let us glory in the gift of the Lord, for "the Lord will not withhold the good from the ones who proceed in innocence."
  St. Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022)

 Nota Bene: The quote from St. Seraphim of Sarov is from Valentine Zander's St. Seraphim of Sarov, trans. Sister Gabriel Anne S.S.C. (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1975).  The quotes from St. Symeon the New Theologian are from his "Prayer before Communion," as found in the Publican's Prayer Book (Boston, MA: Sophia Press, 2008).

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