We Have Here No Abiding City
from Lenten conferences given by Friar Bede Jarrett, OP
Our Lady of Victories – Kensington, England 1932
We are pilgrims – travelers; we have no lasting city here; we have no home. We are urged to live, remembering that we are travelers. This will help you to explain your life to yourself. As you look at your life, perhaps it seems unsatisfactory. It has no apparent continual growth in an orderly progressive fashion. True, for life is not really a growing up, but a journey. You are a traveler rather than a growing child. You are taking a journey to life eternal. People are disappointed because they do not understand this.
We are always planning and designing for ourselves what one day we shall do. As children we planned what we were to do when we had grown up. In youth we planned for our middle years. As we grow older it is always in the future that the great event, whatever it is, is to happen. We plan, at last, to settle down in old age. We cannot settle down. We never shall. We are pilgrims! …
If you are to go on a long pilgrimage you must accommodate yourself to others. So life is an endless accommodating of ourselves to others. You say when you begin: “This is only for a short time; later on I shall be able to organize my life as I want it.” That will happen truly, but not here. No one here ever really has a chance of having exactly what he wants. Only on the other side will you really have a home. We belong to a great city, but the city lies over the far side of the river.
So live that you remember whence you came, and whither you journey. Keep your eyes steadily fixed on the height toward which you climb. Forget the things that are behind you. Strive earnestly forward. Nothing here on earth can ever content us. We get past one difficulty only to encounter another. That is right and proper. Indeed, that is life! So do not expect to find here your city – the thing perfectly worked out, complete, that you desire, dream of, work for. Do not expect to be able to settle down for long to enjoy your life.
The danger that assaults us is the danger that we might settle down. We are pilgrims on the march. Always beware of comfort! Beware of being content with what you have! There – ahead – is your comfort. Pilgrims, travelers, strangers, that is all we be! We seek a city, whose maker and builder is God, a city that is God Himself. We shall enter within it by His mercy. God Himself shall be our home. Cannot you be grateful for the road, though it be rough? It does all a road was ever made to do. It takes you home!
Taken form the booklet, “Letter to My Non-Catholic Friend”, distributed by Catholic Treasures. Posted with thanks to fellow pilgrim, Dr. Bruce Gearhart, for sending it.