The Secret of Saints

Father Benson notes: “It is [Christ’s] reproach to the world, not that the Saviour came to the lost, and that the lost ran from Him to lose themselves more deeply, not that the Creator came to the Creature and that the Creature rejected Him; but that the Friend ‘came into His own, and that His own received Him not’ (Jn 1:11).”

“The consciousness of this friendship of Jesus Christ is the very secret of the Saints. Ordinary men can live ordinary lives, with little or no open defiance of God, from a hundred second-rate motives. We keep the commandments that we may enter into life; we avoid sin that we may escape hell; we fight against worldliness that we may keep the respect of the world. But no man can advance three paces on the road of perfection unless Jesus Christ walks beside him. It is this, then, that gives distinction to the way of the Saint.”

“While this friendship between Christ and the soul is, from one point of view, perfectly comparable to friendship between man and man, from another point of view it is incomparable. Certainly it is a friendship between His Soul and ours; but that Soul of His is united to Divinity. A single individualistic friendship with Him therefore does not exhaust His capacities. He is Man, but He is not merely A Man. . . . . He is the Eternal Word by whom all things were made and are sustained. He approaches us therefore along countless avenues, although it is the same Figure that advances down each.”

“It seems inconceivable at first sight that a relationship, which in any real manner can be called a friendship, should be possible between Christ and the soul. Adoration, dependence, obedience, service, and even imitation—all these things are imaginable; but until we remember that Jesus Christ took a human soul like our own—a soul liable to joy and to sorrow, open to the assaults of passion and temptation, a soul that actually did experience heaviness as well as ecstasy—the pains of obscurity as well as the joys of clear vision—until this becomes to us, from a dogmatic fact apprehended by faith, a vital fact perceived by experience, a full realization of His friendship is out of the question.”

Quotations from Robert Hugh Benson, The Friendship of Christ (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1912).

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