Enemies of the Body

Father Cassilly compares earthly dwellings to the souls of the just, wherein God dwells: “An earthly habitation has many enemies—amongst them poverty, sickness and death. . . . A shadow is always impending over it. The most perfect of homes cannot endure. It is but temporal, and so meant to be. At times want and distress descend upon it.”

“And what home escapes sickness? It is a legacy of original sin and is always seeking to enter through the chinks of doorway or casement, and, in the event, it always succeeds in ensconcing itself by bedside or hearth. Yet, evil as it is, it serves to draw closer the heartstrings of the family. The memory of past tribulation is often a sweeter possession than that of a placid and even prosperity. The helplessness of the sufferer not only wins the compassion and sympathy of the strong, but it draws forth the spirit of self-sacrifice. When the invalid sees with the eyes of others, is served by their hands and nursed by their affection, the bonds of family intercourse become riveted as by steel; and thus one great purpose intended by the Creator in the institution of the family is attained, forgetfulness of self.”

“And finally death, the enemy of mankind, ruthlessly enters the happiest of homes and carries away its victims one by one; the sound of cheerful voices is succeeded by silence or the mocking echoes of noises from without, and nothing remains to tell of once happy lives save desolate rooms, and blackened embers on the hearth.”

“But in the human habitation chosen by God, there need be no fear of these enemies of domestic felicity. . . . Sorrow, though, and crosses, tribulations and afflictions will ever be with us; but, if we welcome them with outstretched hands as friends of ours and God’s, they will not harm but only purify and strengthen us.”

“God, then, has made choice of our soul for His home, there to stay, if we but permit Him, in calm and storm amidst all the vicissitudes of our mundane existence until our tenement of clay falls apart, when, clinging all the closer to our emancipated spirit, He will enlarge it with the fulness of His Being forever.”

Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).

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