I should be much more afraid of being mistaken and then finding out that Christianity is true than of being mistaken in believing it to be true. –Blaise Pascal, Pensées
We'll start with the negative emotion. I get a bit exasperated when people talk about a "life well-lived" or she "lived life well". Or even, he "lived life to the full". Mostly because it looks, it reads as far too redundant a phrase. Can we use a synonym in one part, at least? But then, perhaps it loses its catchiness, its charm, even its connotation that is clearly meant to make its audience heave a sigh of contentment and happiness for the other on achieving such a status. Should not we all want someone to say of us "That soul lived life to the full."? I should not, though I want the same sentiment. In which case, I will be obliged to throw out my Editor's snobbery and settle for such an eulogy, instead of "She lived her existence to the full" or "She spent her life well" or "She lived her earthly journey to every width, breadth, and height that it could assume and she did it all only on a supernatural gift of God". Well, maybe that last one is actually better than the cliché one.
Ok, still, I want my soul to experience this world, this existence, this life—as a well-lived one. Once I asked a friend, in a moment of doubt, "How do we know this kind of life is actually worth it? How do we know our efforts at holiness are going to be rewarded with the sight of our unseen God—and that sight will be the one thing we are truly longing for even now? Why do I feel (in this moment) that the ways of the "wicked" seem more enjoyable than the ways I pursue?"
And at the time, she gave me the encouragement that we will never know, but that even the good of living this way on earth is enough to strengthen us to persevere, regardless of whether we can know with certainty that it will be worth it after death.
I was just recalling this conversation, in light of my own vocation. So far I have been blessed—a thousand times blessed—to receive only goodness, joy, encouragement from those I share my vocation with. But there are those who would not understand it, and I know that. They see it as a waste of a life, or why would I spend my whole life serving others and praying? I got a college degree for goodness sake!
But then there's Blaise Pascal, that brilliant French philosopher, who reminds me that I too, would rather risk being wrong about my faith having believed it to be true, than risk being wrong and walking away from it.
Ok, on to the exuberant things. I hope, perhaps, to write my next post a bit more directly about Pope Francis, but in the meantime, I am writing here to say I am following his advice. Pope Francis (Happy One-Year Anniversary to his beginning in the papacy!) has encouraged us Christians to find out our baptism day, and celebrate it as whole-heartedly (if not more) as our birthday…for it was then that our souls were born to eternal life, the gates of Heaven were opened, the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross for "the many" included us! O Happy Fault, O Necessary Sin of Adam, that won for us so great a Redeemer!
So I went through my parents' filing cabinets and found my baptism certificate. I discovered two beautiful things: 1) that the Franciscan priest my grandma has praying for my vocation signed the certificate, as our former pastor, and 2) that I was baptized 52 days after birth, on the feast of St. Mary Magdalene! Imagine my surprise and delight all you die-hard Catholics! Me! A new soul gaining admittance into the Church, as pure white as Christ at the Resurrection! And a newborn Christian on the feast of the Apostle to the Apostles, the Woman at the foot of the Cross, the Adulteress who repented because of Christ's Mercy! Oh wonderful merciful Divine Providence! I have a Baptism Saint as well as a Confirmation Saint and a Birthday Patron Saint. Wow, I love the Communion of Saints. So someday when I enter the Church Triumphant (God's Will be done), I hope St. Peter jokes, "What do St. Lucy, St. Mary Magdalene, and St. Justin the Martyr all have in common? They interceded for St. whatever-my-religious-sister-name-will-be." :D