We are not just material beings, but spiritual persons with a need for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment that transcends the visible confines of this world. This longing for transcendence is a longing for truth, goodness, and beauty. Truth, goodness, and beauty are called the transcendentals of being, because they are aspects of being. Everything in existence has these transcendentals to some extent. God, of course, as the source of all truth, goodness, and beauty, has these transcendentals to an infinite degree. Oftentimes, he draws us to himself primarily through one of these transcendentals. St. Augustine, who was drawn to beauty in all its creaturely forms, found the ultimate beauty he was seeking in God, his creator, the beauty “ever ancient, ever new.”―Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P.

Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.—St. Francis of Assisi.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Evasion

There was a woman who took issue with the criticism of comfortable Catholics who place their own comfort and well being above the Christian obligation to provide, for example, assistance to someone in need.

When asked by her to provide a concrete example of an untenable Christian witness, another person did just that by asking her whether she would provide direct assistance to someone asking for her help, someone in need of a friend, someone who perhaps she might encounter on her very doorstep. She replied, "That's not my calling."

The bystander challenged her to consider that far too many Catholics have allowed themselves to become motivated by fear of loss of their creature comforts or fear of threat to their person. Far too many Catholics hide behind a veneer of faith when they should seek the grace to trust more deeply in God and the grace to more willingly serve their neighbour. Sure, they trust God. They trust Him as long as He doesn't ask too much of them.

It's not her calling?!
The woman whose behaviour is curious, to say the least, attends daily Mass. She constantly quotes Scripture to proof-text her holiness. She tidies up after Mass and assists with coffee-fellowship. She is careful not to stain her exquisitely neat pant suit, blouse and matching scarf and shoes. She frequently assumes she knows better than others the meaning of Christian discipleship, and frequently lobs love-bombs of fraternal correction at those around her. Meanwhile, Phyllis the Comfortable congratulates herself for her attitude of avoidance of the rather obvious Christian duty to practice mercy, the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

Since when can Christians pick and choose which works of mercy fall into their neatly manicured categories that a proud person might claim, as did Phyllis the Comfortable whose response is given above, mirror the will of God?
You're homeless? Oh, I'm sorry, I'm practicing the spiritual works of mercy today. Tomorrow I practice the corporal works of mercy... if I feel like it. God bless!
Phyllis the Comfortable emptied the corporal and spiritual works of mercy of their claim on us by equating her well manicured comfort zone (that trumps the risk of charity) with the will of God. "God would never ask me to put my safety and well being at risk." Nice try. Imagine, for a moment, where we would be if the Apostles had used that line of reasoning to defend any complacency on their part, to defend a choice to embrace the temptation to elevate self protection above the Gospel.

Instead of repenting of his denial of Christ, imagine if Saint Peter convinced himself that his denial of Jesus was an understandable defence of his own person.
Hey Jesus, I've got to think about myself, my own well being. You'll forgive me if I walk away and tend to my personal need for self protection.
People talk themselves into clever deceptions much as Phyllis the Comfortable has done. She is now accustomed to her self deception, which—whether she realizes it or not—is an attempt to deceive the Lord.

It is understandable, though not acceptable, for a disciple of the Lord to be afraid and, as a result of fear, for a moment avoid his Christian duty. It is quite another thing to convince oneself that one is not afraid and think oneself charitable while one practices protection of oneself to the exclusion of another, the isolation of one's brother or sister.

Phyllis the Comfortable has convinced herself that her charity is perfect because she can cross over to the other side of the street, so-to-speak, and at the same time bless herself for her nicey niceness. Phyllis has reached a diabolical level of indifference.
Hi Jesus. I see you in the poor man lying in the street. I'm a little busy right now, but do remember that I love you. Have a nicer day.
'I'll help you as long as helping you doesn't mean you'll expect me to help you beyond my comfort zone, my healthy boundaries.
'B' as in baloney; 'S' as in sanctimonious doublespeak. Our personal comfort zones do not trump our responsibility to provide assistance to a brother or sister in need. Neither should we attempt to exploit Scripture to broker an excuse to avoid the responsibility to which all Christians are called: the love of neighbour.

The Church needs heros, practitioners of heroic virtue. Perhaps, then, we might begin a journey into deeper trust in God by meditating on the following question: 'Am I acting out of fear, or am I living in the freedom of faith in Jesus Christ?'

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