I am trying to climb the mountain of the Lord, but I am not getting very far, because I have been bowed down by a weight bigger than myself. There is no use trying to fool myself or anybody else. If I am supposed to preach the Gospel—and for this I was born—then I have only tears to give people.
Because, you see, tears, as Russians say, wash away your own sins and the sin of mankind. Are you ready to weep? Well, if you are, then the Lord be praised. But so many of you are not ready to weep. How shall I call you forth from the den of misery in which you have pushed yourself? You are afraid, arrogant, greedy, feeling rejected and lonely, notwithstanding all the gadgets.
What more can I say to you? You have the key to the door of Christ’s heart. All you have to do is put the key into the lock and open it, and you will be at peace. And peace will come to the world.
But nobody wants to listen, or very few do. Nations hate nations and people hate people. It may seem as if there is no way out, but there is always a way out. The way out is the love of God, the mercy of God, the kindness of God, and above all, the faith that he has put into our hearts.
Are you going to be silent? Aren’t you going to open your mouth? Aren’t you going to proclaim to the world the love of God for men? Aren’t you going to give men the cup of reconciliation? That is what he came for. Speak now of Christ reconciling sinful ‘Adam’ to God, of Christ reconciling humanity and God. Speak now. But in order to speak the way he wants you to, you must be crucified on the other side of that cross. Then you will speak. You won’t say much. Two crucified people don’t speak easily. But what they say remains in the hearts of men…
Looking around, I behold the whole world. It is deeply imbedded through my eyes into my brain, my heart, my soul. The wind is mournfully urging me, “You have only one thing to do, in season and out of season, night and day: you must cry out, across the whole world, Christ’s love for all.”
Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Urodivoi
Reflection – It’s been a quiet kind of week in Madonna House, so I will leave my usual ‘This Week in MH’ Saturday post aside, in favor of just a bit more of Urodivoi. Here we see, more and more clearly, what Catherine meant by being a ‘fool for Christ’.
The Russian fools embraced poverty, want, humiliation, the low place of the street beggar, without any shelter or shield, any structure of sociological or ecclesial institution to define or support them. They simply lived, as St. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, as ‘the scum of the earth, the refuse of all things’ (1 Cor 4: 13). In this, they exercise a powerful identification with all humanity, penetrate into the heart of the human condition, which is defined by precisely that degree of poverty and want, motivated by their love of Christ and their desire to be one with Him in his work of identification and redemptive love.
It is a most ‘impractical’ vocation—what good does it do to live as a beggar on the street, to reduce oneself to that state of wretchedness and misery? But that is what they did, in classic Russian style, and the figure of the fool for Christ towers over Russian Christianity.
For Catherine, translating this very Russian form of holiness into the socio-cultural reality of 20th century North America, this meant opening oneself up to the pain of the world to a degree that is, simply foolish and impractical. It meant weeping over the wars in the Middle East and the poverty of the Third World, and all the other sweeping global tragedies of our time. It meant being anguished deeply over the turning away of so many people from faith, from Christ, from God. It meant being tormented by the mediocrity and lukewarmness of so many Christians. It meant being grieved to the heart by the mediocrity and corruption of priests and bishops.
It meant allowing all of this, which is truly the pain of Christ in the world, to become her pain. It is always our temptation, even if we are basically nice people who do care about stuff, to either turn a blind eye to this pain, or to just get angry and hard and cynical. It’s just too much for us—all the pain of all humanity all the time.
What Catherine came to—and of course how she came to this is a story that is precisely 89 years long—is that in Christ, with Christ, for Christ, and out of love for Christ, it is not too much for us. Or it is too much, but that’s OK, because He makes up for what we cannot do or bear. Or rather, He comes to us in our love and our identification for humanity, and in our choice to not close our hearts, turn away, become hard or indifferent, we find ourselves mysteriously in the presence and in the heart of Him who was the Fool of fools, the King of Fools, whose foolish love for mankind is the salvation of the world.
What good does it do? What practical purpose does it serve? Only Christ can answer that question, and only fools for Christ can understand the answer. I would simply say that nothing else does any good; nothing else, in the end, serves any practical purpose whatsoever. Let Christ is, and letting Him in, let in the whole world and all its joys and pain, hope and sorrow. Be a fool; it is what is needed now.