IMAGE: Friars praying at the Dominican cemetery in Washington, D,C., November 8, 2007.From the writings of our brother, Pierre Andre Liege.
"To die together with Christ."
Our faith in the sacrifice and death of Christ proclaims this event as the fountain and gate of all things which, in our life, take the form of sacrifice and renunciation. For does not the Living God, through the cross of Jesus, reveal a God who turns death, as well as the other evils and calamities in our life, into a living hope? Did not Jesus in his own sacrifice fully restore the relationships of humanity to God by accepting the ultimate spiritual agony?
To die together with Christ is to be bound over to the following of him, eagerly persisting in this very hope and in spiritual combat. Indeed, through spiritual combat we are freed together with Christ when for the love of God and of one another we expend ourselves, no matter what the cost, in opposing whatever falsehood or injustice, danger or violence, hatred or the plotting of the powerful, or fear that may stand in the way. In hope, however, we are bound over to Christ when from the depths of our death, or of our own hopelessness of weaknesses, or of the unbelief or hopelessness of others — all those things utterly blameworthy in our life — we entrust ourselves completely to the care of the Living God.
The paschal mystery shines forth in all renunciations whatsoever to which we give our consent, or in the frustrations we endure, or in the control we exercise over ourselves or in the discipline to which we subject ourselves. We are not speaking here of a certain kind of stoic wisdom or of a certain moral asceticism. Indeed, that life already renewed with Christ flows into the "dying with Christ." That life transforms our combat and our poverty; that life calls forth our sacrifice and our decision. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's.
To die in Christ is to conquer the apathy of existence, to put aside greed, to abstain from fickleness, to dismiss levity of mind, to reject what is useless and what is done for appearances' sake, and to choose the gospel with sincerity and faithfully cling to it.
To die with Christ is to free oneself from riches and human glory, and to moderate one's life for the kingdom of God.
To die with Christ is to accept the risk of human love which demands the denial of self, or to accept the danger of witnessing to truth and justice before others, or to experience the difficulty of holding steadfastly to the faith one has received.
To die with Christ concerns those things which in our daily lives are austerities, or to sustain difficulties and accept change which brings about the renewal of fidelity.
To die with Christ is to accept one's own death as a sacrifice and a trusting burying of self in God, and also to accept in hope the deaths of our brothers, sisters and friends.
To die with Christ is to bear with a serene spirit the process of aging, the rejections, the losses - even in apostolic labors.
To die with Christ is to be freed from egoism and self absorption through the various incentives to love, to share, to sympathize with and to be reconciled with others.
To die with Christ is to experience at times the darkness of faith and courageously to endure it.
So in every Christian life pursed with earnestness there are many occasions for self-denial and sacrifice even of what is necessary. Yet we must beware lest these occasions become merely routine actions. To everyone according to their own circumstances, or the time in which they live, or the vocation they have received, the Holy Spirit at the appropriate time makes a fitting appeal that each may hear. This happens more certainly in peace and joy than in external disturbances or in the excitement of the soul.Truly the celebration of the Eucharist is by no means present where Christ, who shares his paschal sacrifice with believers who are joined together, does not assume to himself everything that in their life of sacrifice and evangelical self-denial gives that life its character. Indeed, everything must be changed into the fruit of life by the power of his resurrection. Is not this our way of celebrating the Eucharist?