Christ Is With Us Always

Christ reveals His presence to souls in many ways. Through sufferings and trials and in times of consolation we can be sure that Our Lord is always with us. In his work, Solitude and Silence, Thomas à Kempis describes the different ways in which Jesus is present to those who love Him and the merits of enduring suffering in union with Him.

The Different Ways In Which Jesus Is Present To Those Who Love Him

Christ is indeed present to us now, but in a manner which is congruent with our current state of existence as pilgrims and exiles. For it is only after this earthly life has ended that we shall see Him fully, as He really is. Christ is always present to us, but not always in the same way.

Through Suffering And Trials

For sometimes His presence is revealed through the sufferings and trials which we undergo. But other times, in contrast, He is present through the removal of the adversities we face and the restoration of peace. He is present in this way to those who love Him, but never in such a way that they are freed completely from all adversity and pressure. For He has truthfully declared, “In this world you will suffer tribulation.”

His presence to us may be compared with that of a good father to his offspring. He disciplines us but never kills or destroys us. He sometimes seems to leave us for a while, but only so that we may learn to support ourselves and to have courage and faith; for He never truly abandons us. We sometimes suffer from hardships or are burdened with troubles, but never so much that we are actually broken or crushed by them. We may sometimes experience sorrows and deprivations, but this is only so that we come to long more eagerly for a better world, the world-to-come of heaven. Indeed, in this way, we learn to love that which is eternal and unseen and to regard with detachment everything that is passing, visible, and earthly.

In Consolation 

Christ is present to His faithful in bestowing grace, in providing interior consolation, in revealing heavenly mysteries, in granting peace to the mind and body, in overcoming vices and passions, and in resisting temptations and trials. But at certain times, He permits these blessings to be removed or concealed and adversity and hardship to befall the devout soul. For it is by these means alone that faith is tested and made stronger and purer. This faith is indeed “more precious than gold, which is tested by fire.” But nevertheless, Christ is truly present during those difficult times, even when He seems to be absent. For, in the greater scheme of things, it is precisely those times of difficulty and trial which prove most useful and fruitful for our spiritual growth.

The Merits Of Enduring Suffering In Union With Christ

How blessed and meritorious is the one who loves God just as ardently and faithfully in the midst of adversity as in the midst of prosperity and peace! Blessed indeed is the one who is just as happy to go hungry and thirsty in the company of Jesus as to enjoy a sumptuous feast with Him! Such a faithful soul is ready not only to follow Christ to the glory of the mount of the Transfiguration but also to follow Him to the grim hill of Calvary and to the torments and shame of the cross. Such a faithful disciple of Jesus proclaims his Master to be great and glorious with all his heart in all these changing circumstances, whether they are good or bad.

Hence it is that Jesus declares in the Gospel, “Blessed is the one who does not fall away from me.” He said this because He knew very well that adversities and tribulations of one kind or another are bound to come to all His disciples. For it is not in times of peace and prosperity that the strength of our faith is really tested, but in times of difficulty and struggle.

My friend, love Jesus when He bestows blessings and good things upon you. But love Him no less when He takes these blessings and consolations away, or even sends you tribulations. Let nothing whatsoever—neither success nor happiness, neither distress nor suffering—separate your heart from your Savior!

Indeed, it is when our fleshly or merely human nature suffers or is hurt that we have the opportunity to teach that very nature to be obedient to our spirit and our reason. And it is in this higher spiritual dimension of our being that the truest and most pure love abides.

The Solace And Support Of The Presence Of Christ

Wherever you go and whatever you do, let Christ be present with you. Abide always in His holy company, and seek His wise counsel and advice before you make any decision or undertake any task. And beware that you do not stray from Him or offend Him in any way. For if you separate yourself from the one who is the Prince of Peace, what peace may you then expect to enjoy?

Ambitious thoughts and immoderate elation and love of earthly pleasures and enjoyments all serve to dull the vision of the mind and to cloud the eyes of the heart. The person who permits himself to be rendered dull and blind by the illusions of this passing world ceases to see the Lord Jesus, either enthroned in glory with the Father or as a tender babe in the presence of His immaculate Virgin Mother in the stable.

Those who seek consolation and diversion in material and worldly things soon lose their taste for that which is spiritual, in the same way that a person who indulges in coarse food or wine loses the ability to appreciate that which is fine. To such a person, devotion and contemplation will began to seem insipid and tedious. One form of desire and love always drives out another one, which is (so to speak) its rival. Thus, conversely, it happens that the person who seeks his delight and satisfaction in spiritual things alone will soon come to disdain and abhor all worldly and fleshly allurements.

This article is taken from a chapter in Solitude and Silence: The Cloister of the Heart by Thomas à Kempis which is available from TAN Books



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