Monday, April 1, 2019

Don't think that God only wants to see a report card that only has As.

There are plenty of reasons why Catholics have stopped going to Church.  One of the very common reasons is because they may have some moral issue that they just cannot resolve or get around in life.  These folk sometimes feel that they just cannot bring themselves to journey in life with the community that God has given them, and prefer to ‘work things out’ outside of church, and outside of the praying community consisting of their brothers and sisters.  As well, there are many who believe that they can only come into the church and the community after the messiness of their lives is somehow sorted out, and often by their own effort.  What undergirds this mental construct is that they have to earn their place in God’s eyes, and that life is about presenting God with a life-report card that is full of As.  Fortunately, this is a very erroneous view of God and his offer of salvation.

The only way a Spiritual Director can help a directee to grow and mature is if he or she is willing to present to the director a complete picture of his or her life, including the parts that reveal the often hidden and secret moral failures.  A Spiritual Director cannot do much to help a directee who chooses to only present their best side of their lives in direction.  After all, if a directee is only going to show the side of his life that has straight A scores, there isn’t much that needs directing. Among other things, it could show that the directee’s idea of God is that God only wants to see the good parts of our lives.  Is this a problem?  How should we see our spiritual lives?

First of all, we need to understand that God doesn’t love us less should we sin or have some moral transgression in life.  And because God’s love doesn’t waver, nor does it wax and wane, there is nothing that can make God love us more, and there is nothing that can make God love us less.  This is perhaps where God’s unconditional love is so different from the love that we extend to one another, and also different from the love that we receive from one another.  We waver so much in our outreach of love toward others, basically because we have days when we don’t love ourselves as well.  In order to appreciate how divine love is so different, we need to try to get out of ourselves, and check our egos at the door when we enter into prayer. Although this is never a teaching of the church as far as the use of the Holy Water at the stoups of the church is concerned, right there – at the doors of the church before we enter into the sacred prayer space – is where our egos need to be left, and that is because our worship and adoration of God in the Mass is never about us.

Secondly, because we are aware that God’s love that is extended to us is unconditional, we are then really able to lift up our ‘minds and hearts’ to God without worrying if what is on our minds and hearts fall short of the perfect A.  In other words, we need to learn to stop editing out or censoring out what we think God should know or see in our lives.  Besides, his omniscience knows us through and through.  That’s what omniscience means – that God has a knowing that covers all.  Our church isn’t one that is perfect by any means, and if it can attain perfection, it is only possible with God’s grace, and not by our efforts alone.  

Coming before God cannot be something that is compared to coming before some important dignitary where we show him what we think he wants to see, and hide from him the things that we believe will somehow make him love us less.  

Adam and Eve hid from God when they sinned, causing God to ask them “why are you hiding from me?”  When we present ourselves to God, bring to him all that we are, so that we won’t hear God asking us that same question.  And know that the God who can heal and repair all wounds, and knows all and sees all, isn’t only interested in a report card full of As.

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