Reposting for Lent and for new Sky View readers:
Excerpts from the book, “Spirituality of the Old Testament,” by Paul Marie de la Croix
Preface: How does God purify his servants? How does he chisel away our imperfections? Answer: Much like a sculptor chisels away the irregularities of his sculpture. Sometimes he uses the hard medal of a chisel so as to deliver the hard blows of adversity; sometimes he employs delicate measures with the soft brush of inconvenience. Whatever the instrument, whatever method, the Father’s purpose is always to conform his servants into the image of his Son.
Spirituality of the Old Testament:
God uses “the life imposed upon his servants to bring about their profound purification. The Bible proves this very clearly.”
“The usual instrument of purification that God holds in His hand is life itself. Life, that is, the whole combination of situations that must be faced day by day, with all the consequent obligations. Nothing purifies men as well as life itself, if they are able to accept it and live it as it occurs. By nature it is unforeseeable and cannot be covered by any formula. It is real and must really be lived. It is all-inclusive and takes the whole man, shaping him on every plane. No one can ever view it as a mere spectator, for sooner or later it involves even those who have refused to commit themselves.
“Life uses and intermingles every rhythm; often a sudden event transforms it in an instant. This forces men to adopt a new pace and to overcome difficulties which show them their inner most selves and purify them to their very core. No man, however prudent and wise, can ever arrange his life just as he pleases. On the contrary, it is life which, day by day traversing strange regions, must ‘lead you where you would not go.’ And always, mysteriously, invisibly, God is the weaver of life’s fabric, the artist who places each tiny item in accord with His infinitely wise pattern. How then, can men venture to judge what is best for them or decide what they require? Only life brings the answer, moment by moment. How can we fail to see that it is a royal road, a safe road? It is the chief means God uses to purify His servants…
“Life was likewise the chisel that sculptured the prophets’ souls, as it exposed them to scorn, hostility, hatred and vengeance. It led them to persecution and to martyrdom. Thus, we have seen that God uses life as the supreme instrument of purification…
“May God help us never to belittle the often intolerable burden of suffering and illnesses, or the still heavier burden of trials that touch souls in their dearest affections, in their reputation or their honor. We should not be deaf to their cries, which are recorded in the bible and often show desperate anguish.”
In short, life is God's chisel which reveals our inner-self in times of crisis and, at the same time, is the very instrument he uses to bring about a better version of ourselves...one that is fully conformed to the image of Christ!