The Four Foundations
of Sanctity: Page 2
by SAINT JOHN EUDES
THE NATURE OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
The Christian Life Must be a Continuation of the Most Holy Life Which Jesus Led on Earth
Members of His Body
Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, King of Angels and of men, is not only your God, your Saviour and your Sovereign Lord, but is also your head and you are "members of His Body," as St. Paul says: "of His flesh and of His bones." (Eph. 5, 30)
You are consequently united with Him in the most intimate union possible, that is, the union of members with their head.
You are united with Him spiritually by faith and by the grace He gave you in Holy Baptism.
You are united with Him corporally in the union of His Most Sacred Body with yours in the Blessed Eucharist.
It necessarily follows that, just as the members are animated by the spirit of the head, and live the same life, so you must also be animated by the spirit of Jesus, live His life, walk in His ways, be clothed with His sentiments and inclinations, and perform all your actions in the dispositions and intentions that actuated His.
In a word, you must carry on and perpetuate the life, religion and devotion which He exercised upon earth.
Foundation of this Doctrine
This doctrine rests upon a very solid foundation, for it receives confirmation repeatedly from the sacred words of Him Who is Truth Itself. Do you not hear Him saying in several places in His Gospel: "I am the Life" (John 14, 6); "I am come that they may have life" (John 10, 10)? "You will come to Me that you may have life" (John 5, 40). "I live, and you shall live. In that day you shall know that I am in My Father and you in Me, and I in you" (John 14, 19-20).
That is to say, just as Jesus is in His Father, living His life, which the Father communicates to Him, so also are you in Jesus, living by His life, and He is in you, giving you this same life. And thus He lives in you and you live in and with Him.
St. John Explains
St. John, the beloved disciple, explains that God had given to man the gift of eternal life, which life is in His Son, and he who has in himself the Son of God has life; and, on the contrary, he who has not the Son has not life (1 John 5, 11-12).
God sent His Only Begotten Son into the world that you may have life, and you are in this world even as Jesus is, that is, you have taken His place here, and ought to live as He lived (1 John 4, 9; 17).
Saint John Continues
Again in the Apocalypse he says that the well-beloved Spouse of your souls, Jesus Christ, cries out incessantly: "Come. And he that heareth, let him say: Come, and he that thirsteth, let him come; and he that will, let him take the water of life freely" (Apoc. 22, 17), meaning, let him draw from Christ, the fountain-head, the waters of true life. Furthermore, it is written in the Holy Gospel that one day the Son of God stood up among a great multitude of people, and cried out with a loud voice: "If any man thirst, let him come to Me, and drink" (John 7, 37).
Saint Paul's Constant Teaching
What does the holy Apostle St. Paul constantly preach to you, if not that "you are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3, 3), and that the Eternal Father has given you life with Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2, 5)?
This means that He makes you live not only with His Divine Son, but also in His Son and by the life of His Son.
Does he not also tell you that you must manifest and show forth the life of Jesus in your bodies (2 Cor. 4, 10-11), and that Jesus Christ is your life (Col. 3, 4), and that He is in you, and abides in you? "I live," he says, "now not I; but Christ liveth in me" (Gal. 2, 20).
For if you study well, the rest of the chapter containing these words, you will find that St. Paul is speaking not only of himself, in his own name, but also in the person and in the name of every Christian.
Finally, in another passage, addressing the followers of Christ, he says that he prays God to make them worthy of their calling, and to accomplish powerfully in them all the desires of His goodness and the work of faith, so that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in them and they in Him (2 Thess. 1, 11-12).
All these sacred texts show that Jesus Christ must live in you
All theses sacred texts show quite clearly that Jesus Christ must live in you; that you must not live except in Him; that His life must be your life, and your life must be a continuation and expression of His.
Also you have no right to live on earth except in order to bear, show forth, sanctify, glorify and cause to live and reign in you the name, the life, the qualities and perfections, the dispositions and inclinations, the virtues and actions of Jesus.
Confirmation of the Foregoing Truth
Christ has not simply one Body
To understand more clearly this fundamental truth of Christian life, and to establish it more solidly in your soul, bear in mind that our Lord Jesus Christ has not simply one Body and one life, but two.
First, there is His Own personal Body, which He received from the Blessed Virgin, and the personal life which He lived in human form in this world.
There is also His Mystical Body, namely, the Church
There is also His Mystical Body, namely, the Church, which St. Paul calls "Corpus Christi," "the Body of Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 12, 27).
And His second life is the life by which He dwells in this Mystical Body, and in all true Christians who are the members of the Church.
The passable and temporal life of His natural Body was ended at the moment of His death. But the life of His Mystical Body He wills to continue until the end of time, in order to glorify His Father by the acts and sufferings of a mortal, suffering and laborious life, not only for the space of thirty-three years, but until the end of the world.
Thus the passable and temporal life of Jesus in His Mystical Body, that is, in all Christians, has not yet reached its accomplishment, but develops itself from day today in each true Christian and will not be perfectly complete until the end of time.
"I fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ . . ."
This is why St. Paul writes: "I fill up those things that are wanting of the suffering of Christ, in my flesh, for His body, which is the Church" (Col. 1, 24).
And what the Apostle says of himself may be said of every true Christian, when he suffers anything in a spirit of love and submission to God. It may also be said of all the other actions performed by a Christian on earth. As St. Paul assures us that he fills up the sufferings of Jesus Christ, so also every true Christian, who is a member of Jesus Christ, and united to Him by grace, continues and accomplishes, by every act he does in the spirit of Jesus Christ, the actions which Christ Himself performed during His earthly life.
Thus, when a Christian prays, he continues and accomplishes the prayers of Jesus Christ.
When he works, he continues and accomplishes Christ's laborious life.
When his relations with his neighbor are inspired by charity, lie continues and accomplishes Christ's public life.
When he takes his meals or his rest in a Christian fashion, he continues and accomplishes the subjection to these necessities that Christ willed to have in Himself.
It is the same for all the other" acts he performs in a Christian manner.
For this reason St. Paul declares that the Church is the fulLness of Christ (Eph. 1, 22-23), and that you are all tending to the perfection and the fulLness of His maturity (Eph. 4, 11-13), that is, to His mystical age in His Church, which will not be completed until the Day of Judgment.
You can understand from this the nature of the Christian life.
You see that it is a continuation and fulfillment of the life of Jesus, and that all your actions must be a continuation of the actions of Christ.
You have to be so many other Christs upon the earth, in order to perpetuate here His life and works, and to do and suffer everything in a saintly and Divine manner, in the Spirit of Christ, that is, with the holy and Divine dispositions and intentions which Jesus Himself showed in all His acts and sufferings.
As this divine Jesus is your head and you are His members, and as you are bound to Him by this union, incomparably closer, nobler and more elevated union than the union between the head and the members of the natural body, it necessarily follows that you must be animated by His spirit and live by His life more perfectly than the members of a natural body.
These truths are very great, very important, and call for intent consideration.
They oblige you to do great things, and should be well thought out by those who desire to live a Christian life. Therefore, study them frequently and attentively, and to learn that Christian life, religion, devotion and piety truly and properly consist in continuing the life, religion and devotion of Jesus on the earth.
Consequently, not only religious but also All Christians are bound to live a completely holy and Divine life and to perform all their actions in a holy and Divine spirit.
This is not impossible, nor is it even so difficult as many imagine. On the contrary, it is very pleasant and easy for those who remember to lift up their mind and heart frequently to Jesus, and to unite themselves to Him in all that they do, following the practices of the exercises which will be presented further on.