Isn't that going too far?
I was asked this question recently. (The best way to answer a good question, is to return a good question, so…)
Did Bl. Juniper Serra go too far? He desired greatly to become a missionary. He had to wait years, finally by a fluke, he got his chance and boarded a vessel headed for the Americas. After a long and arduous journey, he arrived in the Gulf of Mexico to begin the first of many treks across Mexico and California, walking thousands of miles. He is greeted almost immediately by a venomous snake bite. Does that stop his missionary activity? Does that at least cause him to use a mule on his journeys? No, he walks and walks and walks on an ulcerated leg. Isn’t that going too far?
Well, do you think Bl. Damian of Molokai went too far the day he stepped onto the leper colony off Hawaii with the sure fate he would die of leprosy? Or the day Bl. Damian made his sacramental confession while standing in a raft to a priest listening from the railing of a ship which wasn’t permitted to dock at Molokai? There were plenty of passengers on board listening as well. Isn’t that going too far?
Maybe Mother Teresa went too far in caring for the poorest of the poor in the streets of Calcutta? Or Bl. Charles de Foucauld? Really, to go live in the Algerian desert, alone, with no followers simply to pray and witness to the truth of the Catholic Faith, saying: "Pray to God that I may truly be the brother of all the souls in this country". That really does seem to go too far.
But, the lives of the saints are all marked by this type of zeal, of ‘going too far’. The Church calls this ‘heroic.’ The practice of heroic virtue is going above and beyond the call of duty. You can’t become a saint without the practice of heroic virtue.
I am not living in a desert as Bl. Charles de Foucauld did, nor am I on the island of Molokai with lepers. I can’t say, I have gone to the poorest city on earth, Calcutta, to minister to the dying in the streets. But, I can say, I have promised to wear at least ¾ sleeves even in the summer. Is that going too far? In the grand scheme of things, really, a very small sacrifice. But, one the Lord will look upon with favor. It is one small step to regaining a Christian culture in the west and a bridge of peace towards our brothers the Muslims, who highly regard modesty in their women. Will they speak to us of peace if we Christian women in the west do not practice at least ‘Christian’ modesty?
Battleground for the Good
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Isn't that going too far?