Tomorrow is the feast of the Dominican St Raymond of Penyafort, who was Master of the Order, outstanding as a canonist and theologian of confession, and lived to be 100. There is a marvelous second reading for the feast in the Roman office, part of a letter in which St Raymond writes:
"May you never be numbered among those whose house is peaceful, quiet, and free from care; those on whom the Lord's chastisement does not descend; those who live out their days in prosperity, and in the twinkling of an eye will go down to hell."
I like this line because it's a smack in the face to most "political theology"--and also to our (my) preference for personal peace and prospering. "Your purity of life must be made purer still," says St Raymond, "by frequent buffetings." That this is a comforting thing to hear (if you're feeling buffeted) is nice; but it also challenges the buffeted to realize that being comforted isn't enough, isn't something to set one's heart on. Instead the business of our life is purity of heart, which is the beatitude rewarded with seeing God. A comfy, lazy life doesn't purify--that's why such a life is tragic and undesirable. A life with upsets and difficulties is better, not because it is pitiable or poor (that would still be way too much about us), but because it can, with grace, purify. And that gets us ready for GOD.
Cue Handel's "Messiah," "And he shall purify..."