Practical Mysticism!

Matthew 10:39

He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.

“Paganism declared that virtue was in a balance; Christianity declared it was in a conflict: the collision of two passions apparently opposite. Of course, they were not really inconsistent; but they were such that it was hard to hold simultaneously. Let us follow for a moment the clue of the martyr and the suicide, and take the case of courage. No quality has ever so much addled the brains and tangled the definitions of merely rational sages. Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die. ‘He that will lose his life, the same shall save it,’ is not a piece of mysticism for saints and heroes. It is a piece of everyday advice for sailors or mountaineers. It might be printed in an Alpine guide or a drill book. This paradox is the whole principle of courage; even of quite earthly or quite brutal courage. A man cut off by the sea may save his life if he will risk it on the precipice.

“He can only get away from death by continually stepping within an inch of it. A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying. He must not merely cling to life, for then he will be a coward, and will not escape. He must not merely wait for death, for then he will be a suicide, and will not escape. He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine. No philosopher, I fancy, has ever expressed this romantic riddle with adequate lucidity, and I certainly have not done so. But Christianity has done more: it has marked the limits of it in the awful graves of the suicide and the hero, showing the distance between him who dies for the sake of living and him who dies for the sake of dying.” – G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Mark Shea

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Mark P. Shea is a Catholic author, blogger, and speaker.

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  • lkeebler

    Like the man who died and tasted heaven only to be brought back to life by the doctors, so he excepts his time left here given to him by God but is now more than ever looking towards heaven. So it is with those who have tasted the Love of Christ, they except their time here that God has allotted, but are ever looking towards heaven.

    Paul said, Philippians 1:23-25 “But I am hard pressed from both, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for it is much better; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. 25 And convinced of this, I know I shall remain and continue with you all for you progress and joy in faith…”.

    So we are here for a time determined by God and for the purpose God put us here, His reason is our mission. What joy it is to serve God for the time He has given us, but heaven awaits!

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