A LAYMAN'S PULPIT
The Compelling Cross
THERE is a mystery about the power which the Church, without the means of physical coercion, is able to exercise over the millions who accept its authority That mystery is partly explained by the fact that man as creature is made to obey. The instinct of obedience is deeply rooted in human nature, so deeply rooted that. when the true source of authority ir obscured. men will set up authoritarian institutions on their own account and accept the sovereignty of self-elected despots. Though it was only in an imperfect manner that God resealed leis will to the Hebrews, the Law embodying that will inspired a costly devotion that was not devoid of joyfulness.
But in Christ we discover an additional motive. To do this we must relate the declaration made after His Resurrection that all authority had been given Him in heaven and on earth to the cry wrung from Him in the garden: Not My will but Thine be done." The power with which He cominands men arises from the fact that He Himself was obedient even unto the death of the Cross. The full force of that truth is partially lost when we forget that the work of redemption which lie accomplished by His Sacrifice was primarily an act of obedience. It is essential we should remember that it was not on His Own initiative nor merely out of pity for man that lie suffered but because this was the vocation He had received from the Father. Because Ile " learned obedience " by the death of the Cross, He is able to exact obedience.
This has an important bearing on the authority exercised by the Church which Christ commissioned to repre
sent Him in this world, A merely juridical office, authority without spiritual power, is incapable of exacting more than a perfunctory submission. The condition of effective leadership is obedience. The principle is illustrated in the career of St. Paul. His anostone n^,var is to bc explained by the fact that he was, as he declared, the " bond-slave of Christ." Because he was obedient to the vision of the Risen Christ. allowing it to master him completely, he became a master of men.
The lust of power as an end in itself defeats its own object. It is only response to the compulsion of the Cross that can make us leaders. Herein lies the secret of personality. Of personality, also, it is true that the quest of it, in order to be successful, must he subordinated to the service of God and man. Egotism destroys the power of personality. It is only recognition of the supremacy and absoluteness of God's authority that can build up man
hood. STANLEY 13. JAMES.
Sunday. March 31. Fourth Sunday in Lent. (Rose or Purple.) Monday. April 1. Feria. (Purple.) Tuesday, April 2. St. Francis of
Paula, Founder of Minims, 1508.
Wednesday, April 3. Feria. (Purple.) Thursday. April 4. St. Isidore of
Seville, Bishop and Doctor of the
Church. 636. (White.) Friday, April 5. St. Vincent Ferrer. 0.P., 1419. (While.) Saturday. April 6. Feria. (Purple.)