I Do Not See Sin

“There is only one sorrow – not to be a saint.” –Léon Bloy

We tend to judge people by their mistakes, by the worst moments in their lives, moments of weakness or failure. Instead of judging others, Jesus invites us to see the goodness in people. All of humanity is holy because God became human in Jesus, thereby sanctifying each and every human being, no matter their faults. We called to search for the goodness in every one.

If we are attentive, the infinite horizon of God’s love stirs within us a willingness to try to move beyond the normal, safe and limited way in which we encounter the other. Within everyone there is a seed of holiness, and each of us, knowingly or unknowingly, is on a journey toward a fuller realization of their inherent holiness through a deeper communion with all beings; therefore, kindness to all is essential. Humanity reflects the endless diversity of the Spirit, all united in Christ.

Authentic Happiness

 

“Humility contains in itself the answer to all the great problems of the life of the soul. It is the only key to faith, with which the spiritual life begins: for faith and humility are inseparable.”
-Thomas Merton

We begin the journey to authentic happiness only when we are able to look deeply at our own pain, and truly see the fear, doubt, and disappointments we have hidden away within us. In doing so, we begin to acknowledge and accept our imperfections and negative feelings, and embrace the reality that we are not perfect, so there is no need to take ourselves so seriously or engage in the defensive tactics of denial and scapegoating. We need to see ourselves as we truly are. While we look to heaven, we need to keep both feet firmly planted on the ground. The spiritual life requires both upward-looking (at God) and downward-looking (at our self.) In doing so, we see our flaws and we see God’s love for us despite those flaws. As it says early in the Bible: “God saw that everything was fine.” And that includes you. When you are truly one with yourself, God is walking with you and God is closer to you than you can imagine. There is no need to be afraid of God, or to live in fear. God knows your imperfections, but God also knows that at your core you are good…because you were created in and are sustained by Love. There is a divine center within all of us which gives each of us divine dignity. And Christ’s sole wish was to liberate us from anything that separates us from that divine dignity.

Strong and Steadfast

God’s mercy is always there to pick is up and dust us off. God pours his self-emptying love into unlimited acts of mercy wherein He eagerly shares in our sufferings. God’s mercy heals and renews us, gives us new life. God’s mercy is strong and steadfast in its embrace of sinners, absorbing our suffering and helping us the weight of our misdeeds.

Without God’s mercy I would quickly wither and die. And if I do not share God’s mercy with those around me, with all those in need of mercy and forgiveness, then I am guilty of hoarding the transforming power of mercy for myself. Divine mercy must flow through one human toward other humans. The more of God’s merciful love we receive, the more compelled we are to extend an offering of mercy to others.

I’m the Best

Jesus instructed us to never think of ourselves as more important than others, to never put ourselves before anyone. His message is clear: think little of yourself and be happy that others do not consider you very important. Moreover, Jesus asks us to stop struggling to control events for your own benefit, and instead try to be a servant to others. Sadly, I find it easy to ignore His advice.

Self-importance fosters an addiction to and craving for human respect. I am the source of my own misery. As my ego decreases, happiness and peace increases. All addictions mask a craving to be loved and express a need for acceptance or power.

The best way to lovingly serve our neighbor is to take our eyes off ourselves, to forget ourselves, to become unimportant to ourselves, and fix our eyes and hearts and minds on Christ. We must let go of self-centeredness to love with true purity under all circumstances.

Amazing Grace

Sin is saying no to grace. Sin closes my eyes to the truth. Sin erodes the will and renders it impossible to stand against the tyranny of lust in all its manifestations. Sin weakens us, then kills us.

Christ’s resurrection turned disgrace into grace. Grace opens the door to the possibility of change. Grace changes a person. Conversion is about being changed.

Grace is the breath of Love. Beg for the grace of prayer. Hail Mary, full of grace, help me to pray.

Mindless Worship

The emerging global economy has a strong tendency to foster soulless consumerism and mindless worship of technology, and it often tramples the rights of workers and the poor. We need to be attentive to the human consequences and social impact of globalization.

Poverty will not be reduced until we address the extraordinary growth of the inequality of income and wealth that has been fueled by American-style, no-holds-barred capitalism. Unfettered free markets and financial systems perpetuate structural injustice and social sin that often keep people trapped in poverty. Merton would have had a field day with this stuff.

Climbing the Mystical Ladder

Only God knows who I am, originally, essentially. The Good News is God wants to tell me who I am, and what I can be. Right now, God is busy trying to teach me how to listen. Truly listen.

Asceticism plays a part in the spiritual life just as discomfort plays a part in the natural life. We do what we need to do in order to fight cold and heat; so also, we need to fight sin and weakness. But compulsive asceticism is of no use. At the very least, asceticism can be an effective self-management tool. And God knows I can use a tool like that. When asceticism and mysticism wed, the saints tell us they give birth to a luminous creation…as long as both are hidden with Christ in God. Some degree of mysticism is within the reach of everyone, and all Christians should aspire to climb as high as they can on the mystical ladder.


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