We have to come back to the chief’s question: “You present yourself to the Road but do you know how the Road presents itself to you?” In the previous article, we have mentioned that it evoked a parable of Jesus about someone who wants to build a tower. We have made the comparison with the construction of your rover life and we said that you need three tools in your virtual rucksack: the religious adviser, the time of prayer and a rover godfather. These tools are necessary but not enough. You need more, as the following passage expresses (Lk 14, 25-35): “Great crowds were traveling with him, and he turned and addressed them: (…) Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple (…), who does not renounce all his possessions. Salt is good, but if salt itself loses its taste, with what can its flavour be restored? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear!”
A fight ahead
The general line is given for all the questions you will be asked by the chief. Indeed, these questions concern your freedom. Do you know the way of freedom, the freedom that will enable you to go deep into your heart? In order to conquer this freedom, you must fight a real struggle against flesh, the spirit of the world and of the devil. Without this freedom, it is impossible to follow Jesus, nor to love God and your neighbour with all your heart. Without this freedom, there is no love, it is as simple as that. So, fight is necessary. But, with freedom, you are able to love, and with your fervent love, you will give flavour to the world.
So, the aim of this detachment, which belongs to spiritual fight, is not a so-called “Buddhist” void. It is a detachment from everything in order to attach yourself entirely to Jesus, by love. He is the one who gives you his life: constantly, he wants to give you everything, and he can do it to the extent that you are more and more his disciple: carrying your cross, following him, detaching yourself from all you own. You walk with Him, hence the importance of the three tools. You attach yourself more and more to Jesus, by love, in order to live fully God’s love and charity towards your neighbour. All the rest is at the service of this mission of life. Without love, you mean nothing, neither now nor after this life. In the firm words of Jesus, we can already hear a prelude to the final part of the Rover Departure: “A Rover Scout who has not given everything has given nothing. A Rover Scout who is not able to die is able to do nothing. But remember that it is sometimes more difficult to live. And now, brother, good bye!”
To put your life in order
With the help of the three tools – religious adviser, time of prayer and rover godfather – you will be able to conquer your freedom gradually, and thus to love more and more as God loves. The imitation of Jesus, with his grace, will become the heart of your life. His Word will constitute the rock upon which you will build your life. The Mont-Saint-Michel is a marvellous illustration of this: a church built on a rock surrounded by the sea. In order to build your life in this way, saint Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Jesuits in the XVIIth century, could be your guide. He suggests a regular meditation of the « principle and foundation » of his spiritual exercises. This short text shows you how to put your life in order properly. It says:
God created human beings to praise, reverence, and serve God, and by doing this, to save their souls. God created all other things on the face of the earth to help fulfil this purpose. From this it follows that we are to use the things of this world only to the extent that they help us to this end, and we ought to rid ourselves of the things of this world to the extent that they get in the way of this end. For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things as much as we are able, so that we do not necessarily want health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honour rather than dishonour, a long rather than a short life, and so in all the rest, so that we ultimately desire and choose only what is most conducive for us to the end for which God created us.
This « principle and foundation » can be used as the background of the questions of the rover departure. So, you will struggle your spiritual fight for the victory of love! Saint Thérèse of Lisieux was really inspired by the hymn of charity, in saint Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 13, 1-3), which says more or less the same thing as saint Ignatius “If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing”.
To abandon oneself to the Heart of love
So, if you have no love, all your efforts of detachment will be vain. Something must replace the thing that you leave. Man is not made for emptiness but for good and positive things. These positive things are called virtues for they make us become virtuoso in the art of love. Love is the culmination of all virtues. So, if you aim at loving all in all, you will consequently act drastically against all your vices and your bad attachments.
Obviously, we are not the source of love; we cannot win the fight without the help of the God of love. We do need his grace so much! Saint Thérèse of Lisieux had understood that very well. Although the logic of the “principle and foundation” of saint Ignatius’ spiritual exercises is strong, it can become a reality in our life only with the grace of God. You must ask for the grace of consecrating yourself entirely to the Heart of Jesus. If you throw yourself into the Heart of Jesus, with all your weaknesses, Jesus will cover you with his merciful love. Because there is a big difference between “asking for a grace” for something and “throwing oneself unconditionally into grace”! The saints have understood that and all of them have chosen the second option!
The first question of the rover departure is on this line. It reminds us of God’s call to Abram: “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing” (Genesis 12, 1-2). It is only when Abram answered effectively that the promise was realised. The fecundity that was promised to him was linked to the liberation from his “natural” links. By attaching himself to God through faith, Abraham went into the desert. In a similar way, the rover will enter into the night, not knowing what will happen to him, but with confidence and abandon.
If you have found the access to the road, a life is expecting you: love will be its main lighthouse, as the pillar of fire guided the people of Israel during the night in the desert when it left the slavery of Egypt.
Christ will be this Light. So, you must be ready to leave, like Abraham and like the people of God under the guidance of Moses. Detachment is only to make way to a different attachment, outside ourselves: the abandon to divine Providence, just like the Virgin Mary. As we have seen, reality is facing you, but it is not at random. God speaks through it and He wants to lead you to freedom in order to teach you how to love like Him.
Father Servaas Bosch