These story sermons have been grouped around a main plan, namely, the making of an image of Christ in our souls. They are divided into five parts, before each of which there is a statement of the general aim. The first part treats of the materials for building the image; the positive side of the plan. The second part treats of the negative side, the things that will destroy the image. Part three gives the tools we use in making our image of Christ - the Sacraments. Part four gives our motives for acting and part five our co-workers. We become like those we love. It is hoped that this plan will stir up in children the love of Christ unto likeness.
Bertram's Statue of Christ
The Image of Christ in Our Souls
There is a legend of old Germany, about a monk named Bertram. Bertram had been a monk for years and years and had spend most of his time in the monastery workshop. Bertram was a wood carver and a good one too. All the statues in the monastery had been carved by him. The altar rail, the altar, the pulpit all these were Bertram's work. The abbot one day sent for Bertram and said, "His Eminence, the Cardinal, is going to visit soon. Everything about the monastery is prepared for him except that we still need a statue of Christ on the main altar. Can you make one for us in time?"
Poor Bertram went back to his workshop and began to worry. "Cardinal, statue of Christ, main altar? Cedar wood from Lebanon is just the thing, but I have none. There isn't a single piece of fine costly wood in the workshop. All I have is that old piece of oak in the corner, dusty and twisted. What good is that? I wish I had a piece of cedar wood, what a fine statue I could make then. "Statue, main altar, Cardinal, piece of oak," and mumbling to himself Bertram fell asleep.
The legend goes on to say that while he slept a strange thing happened. An angel came from heaven, picked up Bertram's tools and began to carve. And of all things, the angel began to work on the old oak log in the corner. Blow by blow the image of Christ began to be formed of the castaway piece of wood. Soon the statue was finished. The angel tickled Bertram's nose with a shaving to wake him and then vanished. Bertram was so surprised he almost forgot to sneeze. There was the statue of Christ, As large as life, with our Lord standing just as if he were preaching the Sermon on the mount. A wonderful statue and all carved out of the old piece of oak which Bertram thought was not good enough.
Bertram brought the abbot and told him the story. The abbot then said to Bertram, "Christ wants us to make the most of what we are, and not to dream of what we would do if things were different." There is a lesson hidden in there for us. How often do we dream of great deeds that we could do if things were only different. For example, how often do we say, "If I had only lived in the time of Christ, how I would love Him… If I had only been born in some other country, old Ireland for instance… When I go to college how good I'll be… or after I graduate from grammar school, that will be when I'll start." If you say things like that to yourselves and forget to be good now, you are making the same mistake that Bertram did when he wanted a cedar log from far Lebanon instead of the oak log at his feet. You must make the most of what you are. God had a reason for making you at this time, in this place, in the home where you are. You must make the most of it and not dream of how good you could be if things were different… if you lived a little closer to the church… when you grow up.
During this year we are going to try to make ourselves like unto Christ, into images of Christ. Our first lesson is contained in the words of Bertram's Abbot, "Christ wants us to make the most of what we are and not to dream of what we would do if things were different." There is a little prayer that you can say over and over to yourselves. It is in keeping with what we are trying to do this year, that is, to make images of Christ out of ourselves. Here it is, " Jesus meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like to Thine."
God bless you!