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Waiting and watching Print E-mail
By Cardinal John Henry Newman   
Monday, 09 September 2013

Now, one of these characteristics of a Christian spirit, springing from the three theological virtues, and then in turn defending and strengthening them, is that habit of waiting and watching, to which this season of the year especially invites us; and the same habit is also a mark of the children of the Church, and a note of her divine origin. 

If, indeed, we listen to the world, we shall take another course. We shall think the temper of mind I am speaking of, to be superfluous or enthusiastic. We shall aim at doing only what is necessary, and shall try to find out how little will be enough. We shall look out, not for Christ, but for the prizes of this life. We shall form our judgment of things by what others say; we shall admire what they admire; we shall instinctively reverence and make much of the world’s opinion. We shall fear to give scandal to the world. We shall have a secret shrinking from the Church’s teaching. We shall have an uneasy, uncomfortable feeling when mention is made of the maxims of holy men and ascetical writers, not liking them, yet not daring to dissent. We shall be scanty in supernatural acts, and have little or nothing of the habits of virtue which are formed by them, and are an armour of proof against temptation. We shall suffer our souls to be overrun with venial sins, which tend to mortal sin, if they have not already reached it. We shall feel very reluctant to face the thought of death. All this shall we be, all this shall we do; and in consequence, it will be very difficult for a spectator to say how we differ from respectable, well-conducted men who are not Catholics. In that case certainly we shall exhibit no pattern of a Christian spirit, nor shall we be in our own persons any argument for the truth of Christianity; but I am trusting and supposing that our view of Christianity is higher than to be satisfied with conduct so unlike that to which our Saviour and His Apostles call us. Speaking, then, to men who wish now to take that side and that place which they will have wished to have taken when their Lord actually comes to them, I say, that we must not only have faith in Him, but must wait on Him; not only must hope, but must watch for Him; not only love Him, but must long for Him; not only obey Him, but must look out, look up earnestly for our reward, which is Himself. We must not only make Him the Object of our faith, hope, and charity, but we must make it our duty not to believe the world, not to hope in the world, not to love the world. We must resolve not to hang on the world’s opinion, or study its wishes. It is our mere wisdom to be thus detached from all things below. “The time is short,” says the Apostle; “it remaineth that they who weep be as though they wept not, and they that rejoice as if they rejoiced not, and they that buy as though they possessed not, and they that use this world as if they used it not, for the fashion of this world passeth away.”

 
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