Both Jacques and Raissa were aware that the battles which are spiritual prove to be more intense than those which are physical.
Jacques writes in the Forward,
"Raissa was well aware of it--she wrote The Prince of this World. I see better now why she had to suffer so much. It was she who bore the heavier burden of the conflict--in the invisible depths of her prayer and her self-sacrifice. I see better too why the battle was so ruthless and so swift--the baptisms rained down, so did the blows. Conflicts of this kind can be only fought in raids carried out at full speed. And the territory gained is not gained for long. For where the prince of this world has his kingdom, the Christian cannot establish his permanent dwelling as on definitely conquered soil. On such a domain, what he should hope to see, at certain particularly propitious moments in the course of history, is the flaring up of a kind of cultural blaze--what matter is less the result that can be expected than the work of the flame itself while the blaze lasts."
He continues that founders of orders know this, but that when projects or groups fail to grow or are persecuted, what lasts are the friendships in the Lord, the small groups which carry on the kingdom of God in the world.
It has taken me a long time to understand this. As I have looked back on my life, I see times when I thought communities were going to be permanent. First, the lay community I was in seemed to be something permanent. It was not. Then, various parish groupings, including some TLM groups which no longer exist, seemed to be the way.
But, what Raissa and Jacques knew as young people was the quick response in the fighting with evil is primary. When one hesitates, ground and souls are lost.
We are all given "propitious moments" to grow in holiness and to set people on fire with the love of God. In my peripatetic life, I have seen this movement of grace too well not to finally understand that we are all missionaries in the field, wherever we are.
The great evil which has ruined the Church is the false sense of spiritual permanency some people have. They think they are saved once and for all, therefore losing the edge of spiritual warfare.
One cannot be a procrastinator in the spiritual realm of prayer and penance, reading and reflection.
One cannot put off tomorrow finding where God wants one to work, to pray, to love.
For years, I was praying to God to let me die in the vocation to which He called me. I was married, raised a child, single for a long time before those events and single for a long time afterwards.
In all those times, I was being called to study, prayer, reflection, meditation, contemplation.
Now, it is clear to me, as it was to Raissa, (only for her, she came to this very early in her life), that this movement of contemplation and activity is exactly my vocation.
To encounter God and to encounter His People create themes and variations in one's life.
To balance both demands attention, but also a knowledge of when to rest in the Lord.
Raissa was given that grace to rest in the Lord, which I shall examine in the next post.
to be continued....