Living Cruciform

     One of the richest treasures of late is the way Ron’s and my thoughts have converged on the same topic without realizing it.
     Ron’s class, Faith and Culture, emphasizes the writings of Pope Benedict XVI, one of Ron’s heroes. Ron chokes up just talking about the pope, sometimes.  To Ron, he is a misunderstood saint, a man whose take on Western culture is unsurpassable, and yet he is burdened with an inability to “advertise” himself well.  Benedict, in Ron’s opinion, suffers from underwhelming his audiences, and his personality does not have what it takes to compensate for the deliberate undermining of his credibility by the secular media.
     At any rate, one of the messages Ron has taught most forcefully this summer is that the Christian life is about being Cruciform: conforming one’s life with the Cross of Christ.  Culminating in martyrdom, true Christianity is incompatible with “prosperity theology” and all attempts to idolize comfort, indulgence,  and self-preservation.  Ron has ruminated over his generation and the one he is teaching: we do not know war or poverty or hunger.  His students write things like, “The martyrs are examples of great faith, but the time is past that there would ever be martyrs anymore.”  Our generations fail to realize how recently WWII was, and how soon we will likely see such tortures again.
     As Ron has become concerned about how far the pendulum has swung away from Christianity that knows how to suffer, I piped up: “It is really the faithful Catholic family that continuously reminds the faithful how to life a life outside of oneself.”  To be open to life through the duration of one’s marriage is to be constantly ready to give, to serve, to think about and love someone else.  It is to give up being at the center of one’s own life.
     I have a friend who says that she had not come to a close relationship with Jesus until she married and lived out the Church’s teaching of Humanae Vitae.  Only then, she said, did she have to give up her self-reliance, and in her new found dependence, had to become more intimate with the one on whom she was dependent.
     The faithful Catholic married life is a life of self-donation, of giving up one’s life for another (or in some cases, MANY others!).  This is one of the ways that contemporary Americans, despite the selfishness of the culture, can get back to the heart of the Christian faith, a life lived in the spirit of Christ Crucified.