I once wrote that compromise does not fit well in a cloister. I've been thinking of this lately, and of my own human tendency to try to make fit what, in reality, does not.
The truth is: Compromise knocks daily at my enclosure door. It makes sales pitches through the grille, and some are really quite enticing. The "catalogs" Compromise opens to me do not display pages on which I find the words "Caution: Sin Zone Ahead." Mostly they feature offers like "It Won't Hurt YOU to Watch This Mind-Warping Sitcom," "Let's Enjoy A Harmless Round of Gossip," and the ever popular "Don't be a Spoilsport - Just Go Along With the Crowd!!!"
If I hope to live totally for God, I must battle the temptation to compromise. God has given clear directives on how to live for Him, and frankly, most of what I encounter in the world right now is the exact opposite of these. Every day, I must make my choices. Every day, I must face down the grinning, smooth-talking, hand-offering, smartly-masked ogre of compromise, and I must take a stand.
It helps me to know that the battle is not a new one.
"The earliest monasticism was directed to the tendency in the church to compromise with the world, to water down the strong wine of the Gospels to suit the vulgar taste... Monasticism, in its development, was unmistakably on the defensive against a worldly church" (Walter Nigg, Warriors of God, NY, Alfred A. Knopf, 1959, pp. 80-81)
"Mediocrity is the arch-enemy of Christianity." (Nigg, p. 47)
"The desert fathers fought the corrosion of mediocrity not in others, but in themselves, which is what made them saints and not simply critics of civilization and preachers of penitence." (Nigg, p. 47)
Compromise does not fit well in a cloister. If I hope to live "enclosed in the will of God," I must see through the masks, and boot compromise out the door.
For Prayer and Reflection:
- Do the above quotes strike me in any way?
- If I look for compromise around me today, what masks do I catch it wearing?
- Have I developed habits of compromise in my life? Are there scriptures or prayers I can use to battle these?
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