Entering abundant and eternal life through “the strait and narrow” way

[From https://www.litcharts.com/lit/the-pilgrim-s-progress/part-1-at-the-wicket-gate#summary-207998]

Christian hastily makes his way to the Wicket-gate. When he gets there, he sees a sign over the Gate reading, “Knock and it shall be opened unto you.” Christian knocks several times, asking if a rebel like himself can be admitted. At last, a solemn person named Good-will answers and asks who’s there. Christian introduces himself as a poor sinner who’s fleeing the wrath to come. Good-will gladly opens the Gate.

Good-will gives Christian a slight pull within the Wicket-gate, explaining that Beelzebub, whose castle is nearby, often shoots arrows at those who are approaching the Gate. Then he asks Christian to tell his story. Christian describes everything that’s happened to him so far, including Mr. Worldly Wiseman’s diversion. Good-will tells Christian that nobody’s past misdeeds are held against them when they knock at the Gate, and now that he’s within, he will never be cast out.Beelzebub’s castle is nearby so that he (the devil) can try to destroy sinners who are on salvation’s doorstep, suggesting that, in Bunyan’s view, sinners are in constant danger without Christ’s protection. Now that Christian has made it inside the Wicket-gate, however, he is safe, no matter what he’s done before, and no matter what further dangers he must face en route to the Celestial City.

The Burden of Sin and Salvation through Christ Theme Icon
Obstacles on the Journey Theme Icon

Good-will then shows Christian the “narrow way,” which was established by the “Patriarchs, Prophets, Christ, and his Apostles,” and is as straight as a ruler. Many wide and crooked paths intersect with it, but if Christian sticks to the straight and narrow path, he won’t get lost. Good-will also tells Christian that when he reaches the place of Deliverance (the Cross), Christian’s burden will fall off.

Christian at the Foot of the Cross

The following is from John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress.”

THE CROSS

Now I saw in my dream, that the highway up which CHRISTIAN was to go was fenced on either side with a wall; and that wall was called “Salvation”.

“In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.” Isaiah 26:1

Up this way, therefore, did burdened CHRISTIAN run; but not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back.

He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending; and upon that place stood a Cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as CHRISTIAN came up to the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble; and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.

Then was CHRISTIAN glad and lightsome, and said, with a merry heart,

“He hath given me rest by his sorrow,
And life by his death.”

Then he stood still awhile to look and wonder; for it was very surprising to him, that the sight of the cross should thus ease him of his burden. He looked therefore, and looked again, even till the springs that were in his head sent the waters down his cheeks.

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” Zechariah 12:10

Now, as he stood looking and weeping, behold three shining ones came to him, and saluted him with, “Peace be to thee!” so the first said to him, “Thy sins be forgiven thee”;  

“When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” Mark 2:5

the second stripped him of his rags, and clothed him with change of raiment;

“And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.” Zechariah 3:4

the third also set a mark in his forehead, and gave him a roll with a seal upon it,

“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” Ephesians 1:13

which he bade him look on as he ran, and that he should give it in at the Celestial Gate: so they went their way. Then CHRISTIAN gave three leaps for joy, and went on singing:

“Thus far did I come laden with my sin,
Nor could aught ease the grief that I was in,
Till I came hither. What a place is this!
Must here be the beginning of my bliss!
Must here the burden fall from off my back!
Must here the strings that bound it to me crack!
Blest cross! blest sepulchre! blest rather be
The Man that there was put to shame for me!”

More on “The Muckraker”

Christian is the name of the Pilgrim in “The Pilgrim’s Progress.” But there would be another pilgrim, Christian’s wife Christiani. It is she who comes across the Muckraker.” See the picture below.

“This done and after these things had been somewhat digested by Christiana and her company, the Interpreter takes them apart again, and has them first into a Room where was a Man that could look no way but downwards, with a Muck – rake in his hand.

There stood also one over his head with a Coelestial Crown in his hand, and proffered him that Crown for his Muck-rake; but the man did neither look up, nor regard, but raked to himself the straws, the small sticks and dust of the floor.

“Then said Christiana, I persuade myself that I know something of the meaning of this; for this is a figure of a Man of this World, is it not, good Sir?

“Inter. Thou hast said the right said he, and his Muck-rake doth shew his carnal mind. And whereas thou seest him rather give heed to rake up straws and sticks and the dust of the floor, than to what he says that calls to him from above with the Coelestial Crown in his hand, it is to shew that Heaven is but as a fable to some, and that things here are counted the only things substantial.

Now whereas it was also shewed thee that the man could look no way but downwards, it is to let thee know that earthly things when they are with power upon men’s minds, quite carry their hearts away from God.

“Chris. Then said Christiana, O deliver me from this Muck-rake.”

“The Pilgrim’s Progress”

If you have not read the complete “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan, I highly recommend you do so. I further recommend that you buy the version (well worth the extra cost) with quality paper (old fashioned magazine quality) illustrations. Here is one which is the basis of the word “muckraker” that Teddy Roosevelt used to good effect. To his credit, the well-read Roosevelt credited Bunyan.

Patrick’s Prayer

Over 1600 years ago a young shepherd was taken from England and forced to work in Ireland. He was able to escape and go back home. But God called him back to the island of his servitude.

The man we have come to know as St. Patrick brought Christianity to the entire island. It was not easy. But he persevered with God’s help.

March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day. May you be blessed by this prayer attributed to him.

“Christ be with me, Christ within me
Christ behind me, Christ before me
Christ beside me, Christ to win me
Christ to comfort me and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger
Christ in hearts of all that love me
Christ in mouth of friend or stranger.”

The Prayer of Francis

Years ago I saw the movie “Brother Sun, Sister Moon.” It introduced me to the life of the man who has come to be known as St. Francis of Assisi. After the movie, I was moved to research this remarkable man. He is one of the giants of Church History.

Here is a prayer by him that fits our time.

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

Ukraine and the Sunflower


Image courtesy of kaissaoil.com

www.mircorp.com/why-is-thesunflowerthe-national-flower-of-ukraine/

“Sunflowers (sunyashniki) are especially loved in Ukraine, where golden fields of them face the sunrise in the east. They are Ukraine’s national flower, and in folk imagery represent the warmth and power of the sun.” Wreaths of sunflowers (venki) are sometimes worn. www.mircorp.com/why-is-thesunflowerthe-national-flower-of-ukraine/

“Just War”

In a previous post I mentioned that Augustine of Hippo developed a just war theory. Here is a summary of his just war theory. This information is drawn from dogmadoctrineblog.org.

A “just reason for going to war may be defending the innocent from attacks, the punishment of a perceived evil, and the recovery of kidnapped persons or stolen property.”

I believe that the country of Ukraine fits each of those categories.