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For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith
For the Kingdom of God to come!
We often say, and sometimes we really are, unable to fast or to impose other corporal mortifications because of illness, infirmities or other reasons. However, penance, in one form or another, is always necessary in the life of a Christian. Even without good health, what salutary sacrifices we can impose on ourselves, for example, by mastering our tongue! In the following lines, Blessed Edward Poppe, a contemporary Belgian priest, proposes a particular form of sacrifice of the tongue. Although he presented it during a retreat for priests, it is pertinent for every Christian.
Father Poppe speaks about the necessity of prayer and mortification for every soul that wants to live united to Christ and bear fruit.
“St. Francis de Sales said: ‘Many people who fast, both men and women, are damned, but none of the humble and obedient ones are.’ And he also said, ‘The crosses you encounter in the street are good ones; the ones you find at home are even better. Wherever there is less of our choice, there is more of God.’
“Let us therefore examine together how we ought to make the most of mortification for our apostolate. Throughout the day, unpleasant things occur: monotonous duties, small annoyances, contradictions, etc. Let us learn to see God’s will in them. In this way, we progressively become faithful in the little things and, little by little, we are ready for the great sacrifice.
“The great sacrifice of ourselves, we still have to make one day, either here on earth or in purgatory. If we do it here, it will be of great benefit to us. If we have not, in this life, consummated this sacrifice in all its purity, we will have to let the offering be purified in purgatory…”
And now Father Poppe proposes to his colleagues a form of mortification that is very meritorious, yet accessible to all: the “D.N.C.”
“I urge you to do what the Dutch ‘Crusaders’ decided to do after a spiritual retreat. As a resolution, they simply wrote: “D.N.C.” Three letters, nothing more. And that meant: DO NOT COMPLAIN. With that, they were already halfway to sanctity at the conclusion of the retreat.
“Do not complain about people, do not complain about events. Never complain. Simple, isn’t it?
“After your morning prayer, you sit down to eat your breakfast. Well, there’s someone ringing already! “D.N.C.” Think of Jesus and get up, immediately, to listen to this morning visitor.
“You are busy with your spiritual reading, or the newspaper is open before you. (Today he would say: Your cell phone, your TV, etc…) And someone comes to ask you a favor. Do not complain.
“You have to go out and the weather is bad: rain, snow or wind. Spontaneously you would say, ‘What sort of weather is this?’ No: Do not complain. Offer this to Jesus for the person you must meet. Is it raining? Is it messy? Well, go simply, smiling with your Angel. You have to go out whether you like it or not. Your shoes will get dirty, but they will get dirty in either case. But within, in your soul, you are beautiful. And the people whose home you enter with a smile on your face will find peace.
“And now the mailman brings you a letter: more work to do. How annoying! “D.N.C.” Say instead, ‘Let’s get to work for the love of God!’
“Thus you can go through the whole day with all its little events, and each time you can say and practice the Do Not Complain. It will be all profit for yourself and for others.
“Fasting and scourging, that is no longer of our time, it seems. But to accept the will of God, to fulfill in a supernatural spirit the duties of our state, to make meritorious what we have to bear anyway, that we can all do, even those who are sick…
“Noon: the soup is hot, boiling hot (or the other way around!)Well, you can burst out, think aloud, ‘It’s always the same thing here!’ But take a minute to be patient… and thank Jesus that you have soup in front of you. Some people don’t have any… Eat what is set before you, says Jesus. (S. Luke 10:8)
“Do not complain about people, neither about those who take the best for themselves, nor about those who put up with us badly. No complaining, always for the love of Jesus. Do not complain about colleagues. Go and say a Hail Mary for them instead. Complaining does not make them better, nor does it do us any good…
“In short, when we foresee difficulties and burdensome state duties, we must pay in advance with prayers and also with mortifications. This gives us more confidence when we later find ourselves facing difficulties. Our sacrifice, made out of love, opens the springs of grace more widely.”
O.D.M. Adaptation – Source: Father Edward Poppe, Entretiens sacerdotaux, Paris, Éd. Lethielleux, 1935, Extracts from the Third Interview.