Posted by: Thomas Richard | June 18, 2012

An Inert Laity – The Cure

In my last blog entry, I began with a troubling comment from Frank Duff, and followed it “downhill” to its tragic conclusion.  His comment was:

“An inert laity is only two generations removed from non-practice. Non-practice is only two generations away from non-belief.”

 This comment begs a crucially important question that I did not address!  The question is – the question that must be rightly answered by the Church of today is – what has brought us to this point, where we actually have to be concerned with an inert laity?  How have we come to such a problem?  How has it come to this?  And more importantly, how do we stop the slide downhill, and once more begin to ascend the mount of discipleship and the vocation to holiness?

The Cure for an Inert Laity

First, let us be clear about the cause, then we can address the cure.  An inert laity is a laity lacking the motive power of love for God.  To say it another way: an inert laity is inert in the things of God because it is motivated by love for the things of this world.  Or, to rephrase it further, a laity unmoved toward divine and eternal treasure is still pursuing the pleasures destined for corruption.  To make it simple and plain: there are members of the Church of Corinth still among us:

1 Cor 3:1  But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, as babes in Christ.
1 Cor 3:2  I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready,
1 Cor 3:3  for you are still of the flesh.

 Saint Peter too needed to teach and guide such Christians.  He urged them on toward the true goal of salvation!  He urged them on to seek that which edifies, that which nourishes:

1 Pet 2:2  Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation;
1 Pet 2:3  for you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
…………
2 Pet 1:18  we heard this voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
2 Pet 1:19  And we have the prophetic word made more sure. You will do well to pay attention to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

 Saint James is particularly blunt about all this.  A laity inert toward the things of God are not only lacking in peace with God – they are lacking in peace with one another.  James wrote:

Jam 4:1  Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members?
Jam 4:2  You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask.
Jam 4:3  You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
Jam 4:4  Adulterers! Do you not know that to be a lover of the world means enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

This is then the problem “in a nutshell”.  An inert laity is still in love with the world.  Their hearts are still occupied with the matters that they love and so are unoccupied with the matters of the one they ought to love: our Lord, our God.  They are not, as James says, lovers of God but of the world – and thus, even more horrible, “whoever wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”  An inert laity either is – or is on the road to becoming – an active enemy of God.  In their inertness, they are passive concerning the work of God.  Lord forgive us the wrong we have done, and the good we have failed to do.

What is the cure?  James continues to write:

Jam 4:6 … “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Jam 4:7  So submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Jam 4:8  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds.
Jam 4:9  Begin to lament, to mourn, to weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection.
Jam 4:10  Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.

The passage above deserves to be read, and listened to, several times – until it is heard and believed.  Those of two minds – who want to be friends with both the world and God – who want to love both the treasures of this passing world and the eternal things of God – those who think that God has a middle ground between sin and sanctity reserved for them – had better listen carefully.  “Begin to lament, to mourn, to weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.”

What is the cure for an inert member of the Body of Christ?  It is to become a disciple of Jesus the Master.  It is to listen to Him, to believe in Him, to obey Him.  To say it differently, the cure is to fall in love with Jesus.  It is to love His Gospel, and to be in love with Him, our God.  The cure begins by meeting Him – meeting Him in His Word, His Truth, His teachings, His doctrines and sacraments entrusted to His Church.  It calls for meeting Him in prayer – spending time with Him, listening to Him in His Word, receiving Him in His sacraments with fervor and with love.  It calls for a new mind, a new heart, a new life in Christ.  It calls for really, seriously, being a Christian.

Yes it is simple.  Yes it is hard. Yes it will change one’s life.  And yes it is possible because Jesus went to the Cross to make it possible – that is how much He loves each of us.  The question must be answered: how much do we each love Him?  We need to love Him.  If we love Him, we will follow Him.  If we love Him, the Church will be renewed, and the world will see the light of Christ.  If.


Responses

  1. Dear Thomas,

    It really does come down to love: receiving Him and giving Him to others. Your words urge us to grow, by His Grace, in the perfection of charity:

    “…the cure is to fall in love with Jesus. It is to love His Gospel, and to be in love with Him, our God. The cure begins by meeting Him – meeting Him in His Word, His Truth, His teachings, His doctrines and sacraments entrusted to His Church. It calls for meeting Him in prayer – spending time with Him, listening to Him in His Word, receiving Him in His sacraments with fervor and with love. It calls for a new mind, a new heart, a new life in Christ. It calls for really, seriously, being a Christian.”

    Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful. Kindle in us, the Fire of Your Love. Enable us to become the Christians we are called to be.


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