What I am asking you, each one individually, each one personally, is this: are you ready to be a fool for Christ? And I mean it: a fool! It is not a question of joining revolutionaries somewhere in Timbuktu. No. But it may be a question of renewing your parish. Did it ever occur to you that perhaps the foolishness of Christ is to remain right there in your parish and rebuild it?
That, my friend, is foolishness for Christ’s sake. Don’t kid yourself. Nothing from without will change the world. Only what comes out of your heart, your very entrails, so to speak, can change it. The world needs to be changed, now! Today! Immediately! At once! And who but Christians can lead the way? We have the luminous words of Christ that tell us how to change the world.
Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Urodivoi
Reflection – For Catherine, the image of being a fool for Christ meant being passionately in love with God, loving beyond the limits of reason and prudent moderation, pouring oneself out in a total gift of love no matter what the personal cost.
She was very clear throughout her life that this was the only way to be of any use whatsoever in the world, the only way Christ could be proclaimed in a convincing way and his Kingdom be advanced. This whole business she writes of here—that it is what comes out of one’s heart and entrails that alone can change the world—this is the heart of the matter.
In North America anyhow, we are in love with programs. If we just get the right program in our parish or diocese, all shall be well. Just show people a Christopher West dvd, or Fr. Barron, or the Alpha course or… something. Just get the right curriculum in the school, the right marriage prep method… something.
I’m not dissing any of these fine men or the fine work done by people who devise curricula or this or that program. But the world is not evangelized by programs. The world is evangelized, and always has been evangelized, by Christians who have fallen in love with God and who carry that love within them, and out of that love reach out in love to everyone they meet.
A ‘program’ run without love is a body without a soul, a lifeless and useless thing, even if it has the very best material in it. But love—the kind of love that Christ calls us to, the love that alone proclaims and makes visible God’s love and saving power—exacts a terrible cost from us, is no easy thing at all.
And this is why foolishness is so necessary in this world. Love hurts, love costs; it is ‘unwise’ to love to the extent that Christ would have us love, the extent to which He loved us. It was foolish for Him to love us that way, involving scourges and nails and blood. But it’s only love at that foolish extreme that wins the soul of our brother or sister, that can melt hardened hearts, mend broken hearts, steady wavering hearts, encourage fearful hearts.
And while it is on the one hand a very overwhelming thing to be called to that kind of foolish Christian love, the love of Christ, at the same time it is such an immediate thing. We are not Jesus (thank God!), not charged with the salvation of the world. We are asked to love the person who is before us right now, to be kind and generous, compassionate and listening, engaged and active for the good of the other who is before us at this instant, and then the next instant, and then the next. It is a lot, and asks a lot of us, if we really take it on and give our lives to it, this work of constantly and totally loving whoever God puts in front of us at any given moment. But it’s not ‘too much’, not with His help and grace.
And it is the one thing, the only thing, the real thing that makes a difference in the world, that changes the world, that makes the world a place of peace and joy instead of confusion and sorrow. It is the most foolish, and the wisest, way to spend one’s day and one’s life. So, let’s get on with it for another day.