In the first reading for the Office of Readings today, there is one of my favourite passages from the Apocalypse (Ch.3 : vv.15 – 16) – which I cannot resist quoting in the King James version :
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Yet again, then, the command is to make your mind up : to make a commitment . . . to be something definite, not something lukewarm.
I’ve recently been reading an interesting book entitled ‘Lukewarmness’, which makes its fundamental point in its subtitle : ‘The Devil in Disguise’ – a book which I would recommend for occasional reading * (it’s broken into quite convenient, shortish, chapters any one of which will do well as the basis of a meditation). One of the comments I liked – something to remember – was that ‘Lukewarmness derives from a prolonged carelessness towards the interior life. The condition of lukewarmness is always preceded by a series of small infidelities.’
Going back to the Office of Readings, though, the second reading was from a sermon on the Most Holy Eucharist by S. Gaudentius of Brescia; and although the connection between the two readings wasn’t, at first, obvious, as I thought about them, I began to see a link.
S. Gaudentius says :
‘. . . the Wine of His Blood is made from many grapes, the fruit of the vineyard He has planted Himself, which are gathered and pressed in the wine-press of the Cross; by its own energy this wine ferments in those who, with faithful hearts, receive Him like capacious jars.’
So, if we are to gain from Christ’s love, if we are to share in the joy of His resurrection, there mustn’t be lukewarmness : we must be committed - ‘on fire’ for love of Him.
If you think about it, being a Catholic is really about making a commitment. It may be possible to be some other sort of Christian and essentially just have a belief in ‘being good’, and enjoy a service on Sundays full of pleasing hymns and benevolent prayers : but for a Catholic, it’s all about commitment – the commitment that led our Blessed Lord to Calvary, and to the cross from which His Blood pours down onto our altars, to wash us clean of sin so that we may, through His love, find out way to heaven despite our failings. The commitment that makes us face up to admitting our sins; accepting the modest humiliation of the confessional as a way of making up for all the dire things we do; the commitment to trying to be saints . . .
I’ve mentioned the nuns of Summit, NJ before. Have a look here at their Easter celebrations – keep scrolling down, and you’ll find lots of photos – and I think you’ll agree with me that there’s no lukewarmness there : these are women in love with God, and happy to share that love with everyone.
Are we as committed as they are ? I know that they won’t find themselves condemned of lukewarmness : shall we ?
I know we all see Easter as a relief from the demands of Lent : but why don’t we all try, especially at this time when the Church is taking so much flak from all sides, to be just a little bit more committed this Eastertide . . . give just a little bit extra . . . and one way might just be to contribute to the Spiritual Bouquet which the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest, are preparing for the Holy Father. Fr Tim did a very good post on it the other day, which you can read here.
Let’s all warm up a bit, shall we . . ?
* ‘Lukewarmness : The Devil in Disguise’ by Francis Carvajal, published 1992 by Scepter Publishers in the US, and by Sinag-Tala in the Philipines.