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June 1979

By standing firm you will save your souls. (Luke 21.19)

Do you know who are the saints?

Christians who have been fulfilled; who have saved their own souls. We can be sure of that, because the Church does not make mistakes in such matters.

I would like to give you examples of living people who will save their own souls, but of which of them can we be certain that they will endure to the end?

The saints have already arrived.

Why? Because a power has triumphed in them, a virtue: endurance.

By standing firm you will save your souls.

'By standing firm'. This is the translation of one word in the original Greek, but a word rich in content: hypomone - including the idea of patience, constancy, endurance, confidence.

This 'standing firm' is necessary and indispensable when you suffer, when you are tempted, when you are discouraged, when you are enticed by the seductive pleasures of this world and when you are persecuted.

I think that you have also found yourself in one or other of these circumstances and have experienced that without standing firm you could not but succumb. Sometimes perhaps you have fallen. Even now, at this very moment, you may be in the midst of such sad circumstances as we have listed.

Well! What is to be done?

Pick yourself up and... stand firm! Otherwise the name of 'Christian' is not for you. You know that.

Whoever wishes to follow Christ must take up his cross daily and must love - at least with his will - suffering. The Christian vocation is a call to stand firm.

The apostle Paul demonstrated the authenticity of his Christianity by his endurance, and he was not afraid to put it on the level of a miracle.

If you love the cross and endure you will be able to follow Christ who is in heaven, and then you will be saved.

By standing firm you will save your souls.

It is possible to distinguish two categories of people: those who hear the invitation to become true Christians, but this invitation falls upon their souls like seed on a rocky ground. Such enthusiasm! But it is like the fire of burning straw, nothing remains.

Then the second, on the contrary, receive the invitation as good ground receives the seed. Their Christian life germinates, grows, overcomes difficulties, and withstands the storms.

These latter are those who stand firm and:

By standing firm you will save your souls.

Naturally if you wish to stand firm it is not enough to lean on your own strength alone: you will need the help of God. Paul calls God, 'the God of steadfastness' (Romans 15.5). So it is to God that you must go to ask for steadfastness and he will give it to you.

Because you are a Christian, you will not be satisfied with just being baptised or occasionally performing some acts of worship and charity. You win need to grow as a Christian, and every growth in the world of the spirit can only come in the midst of trials, sufferings, obstacles and struggles.

There are those who really stand firm and these are the ones who love. Love sees no obstacles, no difficulties, no sacrifices. In fact, endurance is love proved.

Mary is the type of person who stands firm. She chose God alone from her youth to be her all, and she remained faithful to him all her life. Tradition tells us that she consecrated herself to him while still a girl, pledging her virginity, but she was not afraid to become a mother when God wanted it. She became the mother of Jesus while still remaining a virgin. She stood firm in her vocation when Joseph was perplexed, when she was constrained to give birth to her son in a cattle shed, when she fled with him into Egypt, and when she lost him for three days while he was in the temple.

She stood firm in her love for God and his will, keeping his mystery hidden for 30 years, allowing Jesus to accomplish his ministry for three years. Such was her steadfastness and her adherence to the path that God had set for her that she stood at the foot of the cross, in an ocean of sorrow, before her crucified son. Then after the ascension, she was there at the heart of the new-born Church, enduring to the end in her love of God until the moment when she was, in her turn, assumed into heaven.

Mary is the lady of endurance.

Ask God to kindle in your heart love for Him, and endurance in all the difficulties of your life will come to you as a consequence of your love. With that you will have saved your soul.

By standing firm you will save your souls.

But there is more. Perseverance is contagious. Whoever stands firm encourages others to endure unto the end.

I have spoken to you about the saints and about Mary. Notice that they are all people who have drawn crowds after them in order to lead them to God, and that they continue to have an attraction across the centuries with their example of perseverance, with the light which radiates from the love that made them persevere.

Let us set our sights high. We have only one life and it is short at that. Let us clench our teeth and stand firm from day to day, let us face one difficulty after another in order to follow Christ... and we shall save our souls.

Chiara Lubich

 

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