Our Lord once said, “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world, but lose his own soul?”
The truth of this statement has converted countless millions over the centuries. There is nothing more important in this world than God. Not family, not money, not a good job, or a good name. God is all that matters and it is our job as Christians to take the Kingdom of God by force because “the violent bear it away.”
Our culture prides itself on the herd mentality. A young man in his mid-twenties is expected to hold down a good job, have a nice apartment, and begin building a life for himself. Yet what if this young man has a strong desire and vocation to become a brother in a religious order? What if he stands out from the herd? How does the herd look at him then?
In my own experience, the herd does not care about God or such a thing as a religious vocation. There are persons in this world who believe that if a young man were to enter a monastery, he would be throwing away his life. Not only this, but he would be throwing away everything that the world holds as meaningful: money, a nice house, and a good job. To the world, a life given over to God is a wasted life and one that is not worth living.
I must admit that my own call to become a brother was something that troubled me for a long time. It was not something that I had sought or wanted. Rather, it was a gift given to me by God. It is a gift that the world does not understand and one which it does not see is valuable. Even some Catholics view brothers as someone two rungs down from the priest. “He’s a brother. Therefore, he wasn’t smart enough to go to seminary.”
The truth is that being a brother does not mean that one is less intelligent or that one does not have the social skills to become a priest. Rather, a brother is the priest’s “right hand man.” If cables need to jumped, children need to be taught, or gardens grown, it is the brother’s job to go and fulfill those duties. If cooking needs to be done and the lawn needs to be mowed, the brother is your man. If the server does not come for Mass, the brother goes and fulfills his duties. The life of a brother is one of countless toil and sacrifice, but it is a good sacrifice and one that is worthy of God. Indeed, monasteries would not exist if brothers weren’t there to help the priest.
If following a religious vocation is not counter-cultural then I don’t know what is. Indeed, being a brother is not the world’s idea of a career. But to God, the young man following His vocation is sacrificing everything for Him and gaining everything in return
Indeed, the Church constantly gives. God grants graces through the sacraments, He offers comfort to the grieving, and solace to those who need it.
Yet the world is completely different. It continuously makes demands on people. It pressures us to be the same and to view everybody through its standards. If we are humble, it views us as somehow being deficient. If we don’t lose our personalities in the group, we are viewed as sore thumbs that must be crushed. The world tells the sorrowful that their suffering is in vain and the poor that they are doomed to their condition. The world is a scary place and it goes completely against God.
Christianity goes against these demands in every single way. If you think about it, countless people converted to the faith because the world had nothing to offer them. The great saints of this world were people like you and me. Yet they left the world and became great in the world’s eyes. The apostles were humble and despised men in the eyes of the world, but they became great in the eyes of Our Lord.
Why can’t we see the world for what it is? What is it that is preventing from realizing the truth of our condition?
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!