The Royal Way of the Cross
It’s remarkable what we can learn from history. Remember, the Bible you read was written 2,000 years ago and is still relevant for us today. So are the writings of great Bible scholars. When they reflect on the conditions in their day, it almost seems like we have the same thing today. Such a person was François Fénelon, born in 1651. Britain could not provide a balance of power, entangled as it was in the civil war that had led to the execution of King Charles I in 1649. So, the 1648 Peace Treaty signed in Westphalia, Germany, left France the dominant power in Europe. Within France, a series of revolts against the crown had begun in 1648, and the outcome of the struggle was by no means certain. In other words, there was hostility between races, constant riots, rebellion against authority, and disrespect for all things sacred.
These were the conditions and atmosphere in which François Fénelon grew up. So, he decided to write down his thoughts, feelings, and impressions. It is essential to remember as one reads his letters and meditations that they were initially written to individuals and often deal with particular problems. The same is true, of course, of the Apostle. Paul’s letters in the New Testament. In both cases. It is necessary to bear this in mind to avoid stressing some point out of context and spirit of the whole. All this needs to be held in mind when reading or interpreting any individual passage. We will begin by looking at his work that involves many themes, and we’ll start with “Seeing our true spirituality state before God.” So, when reading this, think of a dear and trusted friend writing it to you out of love.
Dear (put your name here), in order to make your prayers more profitable, it would be well from the beginning to picture yourself as a week, helpless, miserable wretch, perishing of hunger, who knows only one person whom you can ask or hope for help. Or picture yourself as a terrible sick person, covered with sores and ready to die unless some compassionate physician will care for you and bring you back to health. [Remember, these are suggested word-pictures, not physical but spiritual conditions] These are genuine pictures of our situation before God. Your soul is as vacant of any heavenly treasure as a homeless person living under an overpass. You need them more urgently, and there is no one but God to whom you can go and expect an answer. Again, your soul is infinitely more sin-sick than a distressed, stricken patient, and God alone can heal you. Everything depends on you moving Him by your earnest prayers. He can handle all of this: but remember that He wills to act when He is asked earnestly and sincerely for real needs.
Once you let this reality permeate your mind, read daily devotion or thoughts for meditation, either in the Holy Scriptures or a book you may be using. Pause after a verse or two, write down whatever impressions God’s Spirit might put into your mind. Then, for the words to motivate you forward, to stimulate your mind from its normal state of inattention, you would do well to thank Him for His Word, the revelation by which He teaches us His will, and for His willingness to teach us. Finally, it would be well first to humble yourself. Confess that you have not heeded all His teachings that could have benefitted your spiritual condition. In particular, examine which guidelines you neglected or are still not heeding, and how far your life has come in conforming to God’s will or in opposition to it.
Write the things the Spirit brought to your mind on a piece of paper. Lay it down before you on the bed or chair before which you kneel. Then reflect on the occasions or conditions which caused you to commit these faults and the best means of avoiding or remedying them. Consider what the Lord justly requires of you, that you may keep from such falls and repent of the past. Think of how critically it is to obey Him, however hard it may seem, how it will benefit you if you do follow through, how disgraceful and dangerous it would be to leave it undone.
Remember that we are the definition of weakness itself, as daily experience proves, and offer yourself to Jesus the Anointed One. Detest your carelessness and faithlessness and ask Him to fill your heart with everything that’s missing. Ask Him to strengthen your will so that you may go on doing better. Trust in His goodness and His earnest promises never to forsake you in time of need. Lean upon His words and rest in the hope that he will confirm what He has done in you so far. However, all of this will end up being worthless unless you are honest and sincere, and willing to open your heart and mind to His Spirit’s coaching, counseling, and comforting.
__Written over 450 years ago
Vocabulary redacted by Dr. Robert R Seyda