One's path to God is through the sacraments in which one is engaged. I am a Catholic, a husband, a father, a son, a brother, and a friend. My path to God is through these sacraments. My greatest fear is failing to observe them, to have something to give and not give it, to have something I must say and not say it, to have something to do and not do it, to have something to love and not love it. Where will I be if I betray these?
It is mine to suffer if I do not pray, if I do not confess, if I do not communicate. It is mine to be crushed if I do not teach my children what is right and teach them to reason, to be chaste, and to love. I am to be tormented with every vanity and every passion if I do not love my wife. Dishonor is mine if I dishonor my parents. It is mine to be alone if I do not do every good to my friends.
Yet, I know that the world hates the righteous. Never yet has there been a person who loved righteousness that the world did not hate. I know that if I pray, if I confess, and if I communicate I will suffer. I know that I will be crushed if I teach my children to be good and do good, to love God and His holy Church. I know that if I cleave to and love my wife I will be tormented with vanity and every passion. I know that if I honor my parents, the world will wag its ugly head at me. And if I am the truest of friends, if I behave as a true friend does... I will be very alone.
To live out one's sacraments is a life of courage. "O, Lord! How heavy Thy honor is to bear!" To live a sacramental life with fidelity, that is the long, hard and narrow path between two mountains. A hard place where your enemies crash down upon you, and the rocks roll down and crush you. It's to choose to do what is right and abstain from evil everyday of your life, knowing that concupiscence never abates; to have to make the same decision 1,000 times everyday. There is no hope of resisting so long that one day all temptation to sin ceases. There is only the hope that God strengthens, that resolve may harden and chastity endure. A vain hope to lessen the ferocity of evil; we can only put on the mail of piety from lip to ankle, and there upon place the full plate of charity and obedience; on our head, the sallet of wisdom, and a shield and sword in hand.
O, that tomorrow were the day! That some agent of evil would martyr me so that I could in one hour secure the crown of life! Such an end I do not fear. That some deadly disease sent from Satan for hatred of me would shortly deprive me of life! Then, I could so easily count up my offerings to Him, with sturdy hope of rest in sight. Then, I would have a deadly sign of my friendship with Him, a clay seal on the contract of my salvation. Such a death I cannot fear. Yet to wake up everyday and live, with no respite and no end of toil, this is menacing.
To not be a great Christian, that is my fear. To have never inspired anyone, that is my fear! While I am alive, let me speak for those who do not know how to say what they believe. Let me get beyond being a gadfly, only irritating the wicked and the reprobates. Let me reason for those who cannot reason! Let me defend the weak and succor the poor by the work of my hands! Let me pray for those who have no one to pray for them! Let me be a hammer against heresy, and a doctor to those who have fallen. For those who have not known true friendship, let me be a friend. Let me be the ram who protects the sheep where the shepherd is not near. Let me crack the teeth and the ribs of the wolves who have yearlings in their mouths.
I am afraid of dying and having been less than this, to come into His courts with only self inflicted injuries of negligence and no battle wounds. How can I sit at His table in the presence of so many with not so much as a scar?! Eternal shame! I am afraid of dying and not having spoiled my enemy. To die not only in the dregs of mediocrity, but to have left my work undone, to have failed my sacraments, of this I am afraid. To fail in this single hard hour of combat and glory, and to have it slip through my fingers beyond all recovery, of this I am terrified.
O Lord, deliver me from such an end! Grant me the strength to honor Your name! Some pray for a peaceful death, but I have no such prayer. I pray for the end that best glorifies You. I do not pray for a peaceful death, only, let me have a holy death reconciled to You, in Your friendship. Grant me, therefore, a happy death; and whether it is peaceful matters not to me. The peace of Your friendship and the peace of knowing that I have honored You is sufficient for me.Your holy will be done. Amen
"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~