I read the quote I wrote into the image above while reading about perseverance in Benedict’s Way: An Ancient Monk’s Insights for a Balanced Life. This particular quote has stayed with me, in part because of where it was found.
Sometimes I think that we Christians in much of Western culture are spoiled. Christians in America and in many European countries can practice our faith relatively peacefully. As for Christians in other parts of the world, our Jewish Sisters and Brothers, in the religion of Islam and others; they have experienced persecution in ways that we just cannot identify with.
On the other hand, many of us experience hardships in our own lives. Economic collapses. Job losses. Divorce. Friendships lost. A parent experiences the death of a child. A child experiences the death of their parents, and at any age it is difficult. A person is the victim of a violent crime. Churches are vandalized. Monasteries and Friaries close down. Religious orders and Monastic communities disband. Church leaders disappoint us. We go through those spiritual dry spells. All of these and many more challenge our faith.
It goes without saying that the Jews who were hiding from the Nazis in the cellar in Cologne showed all of us an amazing example of perseverance. They were understandably terrified. If they were found (and it is possible that they were), they could be shot on sight or sent to a concentration camp. Even with all of that going on, they still believed in what they could not see.
In our Advent watching we are waiting for what we cannot see. On Christmas Day we will remember that God came to us in Christ, but, we will not physically see it. Faith and perseverance tell us to keep believing, keep watching and “incline the ears of our hearts” even if God seems to be silent. In Christ, God is closer to us than we think. In all our uncertainty, doubt and messy lives; God in Christ is already here.
Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB