Still, how much closer are we to God when suffering, especially when we suffer willingly for the sake of the God who loved us unto death, even death on a Cross? We can suffer gladly in reparation for our sins, in union with Christ Crucified and offer up these pains for the conversion of sinners, the Church Suffering in Purgatory and perhaps most importantly of all, in these times when a Papal Visit to the UK is starting to resemble a drive in Helmund Province, the liberty and exaltation of our Holy Mother, the Church.
Gardening is a perfect way to mortify the flesh. Are you finding it hard to overcome your fragile, fallen, human nature? Well, aren't we all, but, see, help is at hand. Let nature conquer nature! Let nature herself overpower you! Gardening, if done totally recklessly and in a spirit of outright rebellion to health and safety procedures, will mortify you quicker than you can ask, "So, what really happens at these Opus Dei meetings, then?"
1. Berberis: The sworn enemy of human skin. A shrub that causes even the most hardened and skilled burglar to admit defeat and say, "Ouch...I'm out of here, shall we try number 11?" Just walk up and brush yourself against it at first. Then, once you're getting used to it, climb up a ladder and throw yourself onto the prickliest bush this side of the Grand Canyon.
2. And that't it. Pruning Berberis is a nightmare! If you want self-flaggelation that stuff will do the job in half an hour. Oh, I did disturb a wasps nest last week and found myself running about the garden like a man fleeing a disturbed wasps' nest would. Aaaaargggh! It's a wasps nest! Ruuuuunnn! This evening I passed a lady in the car who I met at the Windmill last year. She's a protestant lady. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, she couldn't remember our having met and my having sat in her lounge debating Pentecostalism and Catholicism with her. I stopped in the car with a couple of friends as she was sitting on a park bench having a drink and asked if she'd like to come to the pro-life vigil tomorrow outside Wistons and whether she had anything she wanted to donate to the Building Fund Car Boot Sale.
She said, "Who was the first person to see Jesus? Mary Magdalen."
I said, "Well, no, the first person to see Jesus was the Virgin Mary, after he was born. Oh, you mean after the Resurrection."
She said, "Why would I want to hassle women at an abortion clinic?"
I said, "Well, its less hassling people and more bearing silent witness to the rights of the unborn to live."
So she said, "Well, I'm pro-choice. I believe in a woman's right to choose."
So I said, "What about the unborn child's right to live?"
She said, "What about women who've been raped."
So I said, "Well, that is not the fault of the unborn child."
So she said, "It's not the fault of the woman either..."
So, the lady rebuked me and said, fixing me with her eyes through her shades, something along the lines of, "My relationship with Jesus Christ goes much deeper than that. Do you know how I can tell a Christian? It's because they're smiling all the time. Whereas when I began to talk to you your face literally fell and a black cloud came over your head and it seemed you were full of hatred."
Clearly, I was unable to contain my horror. I don't think I hated her so much as felt outraged by someone professing to believe in Our Lord expressing views so brazenly against what mainstream Christians believe. Okay, perhaps my thoughts were indeed sins against Charity. Mea culpa.
So I said, "Well, it's not that. It's just that I was shocked that you were a Christian who did not believe in the rights of the unborn to live."
She said, "Well, I don't believe a lot of things Christians believe."
So I said, "Okay, well the main reason we stopped was to ask if you wanted to come to the pro-life vigil and whether you had anything you wanted to donate to the Car Boot Sale for the Restoration Fund, since you had already given my friend something to sell." Indeed, she had, it was a Tomy baby cot protector.
She said, "No, I only gave him that because I thought he could get some money for it."
I said, "Okay, well we've got to go, bye."
So she said, "Bye, see you in Heaven...maybe!"
I turned around and said, "God bless."
Aaaarggh! It's a wasp's nest! Ruuuuunnn!
You see. The lesson is that you just can't assume that just because someone told you they are a Christian, that they will be pro-life and that our Charity must be sincere so that we don't give Protestants reason to doubt our faith. Still, it is a worry when even Pentecostals don't want to bear witness to the rights of the unborn. I thought we had some things in common!