The godless say, ‘let us wait for the righteous one, who makes life inconvenient to us and opposes our actions; who reproaches us for sins against the law, and accuses us of sins against our training’ (Wis. 2:12). ⧾
As a bibliophile, a lover of books, with St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, I assert that there is a providence of books. Often enough, for the Christian disciple who wishes to deepen his or her knowledge of God, a book comes along at the right time and it proves to be am experience of grace, providing a new or deeper perspective on the joy and privilege that is Christian life. I read such a book many years ago; its title is God’s Gentle Rebels, Great Saints of Christianity. Among other saints, both men and women, the author discusses the life of St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars, whose feast we celebrated in August. In this book, Christian Feldmann presents the life of ordinary people who, in the process of being true to themselves as men and of women of integrity and seeking to follow God’s commands, became saints – despite the detractions, misunderstandings, envy and jealousies of others. The godless say, ‘let us wait for the righteous one, who makes life inconvenient to us and opposes our actions; who reproaches us for sins against the law, and accuses us of sins against our training’ (Wis. 2:12). The author and more importantly, the lives of these saints challenge our need to conform and be obedient to be Christian. Sometimes, our fidelity to God demands that we not conform; and indeed in the course of history this has often been the case. This is of particular relevance to us as we struggle with government overreach, the pressure to conform to a plethora of mandates and diktats, even at the cost of doing violence to our conscience.
This is not a battle cry for anarchy. It is impossible to be a Christian without obedience, but the obedience that is exemplified in the lives of the saints presented in this particular book is what St. Benedict describes as a listening with the ear of our heart. Their refusal simply to conform – a pressure we are all facing – in a real sense turned the world they knew upside down; but in so doing provided that prophetic witness which is at the core of Christian faith and life. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom. 12:2).