Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Cleaning the Inside of the Cup and Dish
So very often in the spiritual life people strive to behave better. They think that they can simply will themselves into avoiding the sins with which they struggle. They think that since they know better they should be able to act better. This is simply not true. In fact it is a great detriment to growth in the spiritual life. This attitude belongs to the self help spiritual tradition that has more to do with feeling good about oneself than actually being and knowing your good. The Scribes and Pharisees felt great about themselves but are called hypocrites by Christ. They felt great because they were doing all the things that they believed were right in order to be holy. But they were wrong. And so are we when we enter into the self help spiritual tradition that infects our age. When we think we are right with God and growing in our spiritual lives because we have performed so many duties, got so much done, and said so many prayers that we feel good about ourselves. The spiritual life that we as Catholics are called to live is not about feeling good about yourself. It is about being loved by God, knowing that love, and living in that knowledge unafraid. Yes we must have discipline in our spiritual life and yes it does feel good to be a Christian. But neither of these come simply by our willing them. Instead they are a gift from our Father in Heaven. They are given in his Son Jesus, and they take root in our live according to the will of the Holy Spirit. The inside is only cleansed through the in pouring of the Holy Spirit into our hearts. Thus cleansed our hearts can be united with the Sacred Heart of Jesus especially in the Sacraments the source of our strength. Thus cleansed and strengthened we can do the Will of the Father in imitation of Jesus, and not our own will. So rather than embrace self help spirituality, we should embrace the way of Mary our Mother who is full of grace. Who is filled with the Holy Spirit. Whose Immaculate Heart is united for all eternity with the Sacred Heart of her Son. And who said "Let it be done unto me according to your word" doing the Father's Will. And what is her way? Quiet, humble service. Living in the knowledge of God's love, and going about her daily labors unafraid. Quiet confidence is Mary's way. It is her way that prepares us to encounter the Holy Spirit and allow him to flood and cleanse our hearts. It is her way that prepares us to enter into union with her Son in the Sacraments. It is her way that calls us to unite our will with that of the Father. Quiet confidence in the Merciful Love of the Most Holy Trinity is Mary's way. Our Mother wants us to follow her example and not be afraid despite the struggles of life. She tells us "He remembers his promise of mercy " wait for him. Mary shows us that we do not have to measure ourselves by how we feel but instead we ought to recognize our dignity in the midst of our daily lives and be confident in God's love. He will look with favor on us as he has our Beautiful Mother.