Table of contents
Chapter Twenty-Two: ON THE USE OF MATERIAL THINGS
WE are made up of soul and body; the two cannot be separated in our conduct. Let the physical therefore come to your aid: Christ knew our weakness and for our sake used words and gestures, spittle and earth as media. For our sake He let His power flow from the fringe of His garment (Matthew 9:20; 14:36), from the handkerchiefs or aprons that were carried away from the apostle Paul's body (Acts I9:I2), yes, from the shadow of the apostle Peter (Acts 5:I5).
Therefore use all that is of earth as a staff of remembrance on your troublesome wandering along the narrow way. May the whiteness of the snow and the blue of the heavens, the jewelled eye of the fly and the scorching of the flame, and all of creation that meets your senses, remind you of your Creator; but make use especially of what the Church offers you to help you yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness(Romans 6:19). First of all, the Lord's Holy Communion. But likewise the other mysteries, or sacraments, and the holy Scriptures. And the Church offers you also the holy icons of the Mother of God, the angels and the saints; and prayer before them, and candles and incense, holy water and the gleam of gold, and singing. Receive all this with gratitude and use it all for your upbuilding and encouragement, improvement and benefit as you travel further.
Give free outlet to your love for the generous Lord of love, kiss the Cross and the icons, adorn them with flowers; if only evil be crushed with silence, the good will be allowed to breathe freely. If what is given in love is received with love, the scope of love is increased and enlarged, and this is the aim of your work. The greater the river, the wider the delta.
Use your own body, too, as an aid in the struggle. Trim it down and make it independent of earthly whims. Let it share your trouble: you wish to learn humility, so let the body also be humble and bow to the ground. Fall on your knees with your face to the earth as often as you can in privacy, but get up at once, for after a fall follows restoration in Christ.
Make the sign of the Cross assiduously: it is a wordless prayer. In a brief moment, independent of sluggish words, it gives expression to your will to share Christ's life and crucify your flesh, and willingly, without grumbling, to receive all that the Holy Trinity sends. Moreover, the sign of the Cross is a weapon against evil spirits: use this weapon often and with reflection.
A house is never built until the scaffolding is raised. Only the strong man has no need of outward support. But are you strong? Are you not the weakest among the weak? Are you not a child?