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God loves sinners

God loves sinners.

I think this is a lot easier to accept when the sinner in question isn’t myself. When I’m the sinner, I find it impossible to accept that God really loves me, and can’t help hiding from God and trying to earn my way back into His good graces. Which I also know I can’t do.

Basically, God has to batter me down with His tenderness, to accept His merciful love. It’s impossible for me, but not for Him. The most I can do is ask Him to do this.

When we sin, we are in a state of sin, and live by the logic of sin, which is entirely incapable of understanding God’s grace and mercy. We think God is like us, judging and measuring up and seeking to exploit his friends and crush his enemies. Like Adam and Eve, we hide from God, because love doesn’t make sense to us.

Somehow God breaks through. I am put in His presence, and His merciful love breaks me down. In fact, it crucifies me. The heart of stone is shattered, and I’m set free, made alive again.

But it’s not about becoming “righteous”… In fact, I think that when I’m no longer the sinner that’s being crucified by His merciful love, I’m back in the logic of sin, and will soon commit a sin that makes that clear. Christian holiness is God’s own life in an unworthy sinner, and once we’re “worthy”, we’ve kicked Him out.

Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen

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How to forgive

Recently, I realised I hadn’t properly forgiven some people. I wanted to, but couldn’t figure out how. I thought things like, “I forgive them, but they did still…” I realised that I didn’t really know what forgiveness was.

So I looked to the cross to learn, and there I saw that forgiveness means letting yourself be hurt. Jesus didn’t have to endure the cross, but He did, accepting every blow and every lash, rather than fighting the sinners attacking Him. All our sins are against Him, and so in choosing to suffer our sins, He was directly and immediately forgiving us.

So to forgive, we must allow ourselves to be wounded. Those we must forgive will be the ones who have wounded us, and are wounding us.

I think I had been thinking of forgiveness as being a matter of letting go, but now I think of it as accepting. I can’t just drop my pain, physical or otherwise, but if I accept it, if I say yes to the pain, then I’m free, and the pain, and whoever inflicted it, is no longer an enemy I can’t escape.

It feels pretty great. Unforgiveness creeps up again sometimes, but then I remember to accept the pain, and I’m free again.

And I think that that liberty is a small foretaste of the resurrection.

God bless!

Madly in love with God

I’ve been thinking a bit about the Saints today, and how they were madly in love with God. Like how young men and women fall madly in love with each other, and do stupid, foolish, and very brave things for each other. Like all our better love stories.

Like Tolkien’s Beren and Luthien, this mad love gives extraordinary courage and strength, and moves the course of world history. It is ready to risk and sacrifice everything.

Saints like Francis, Clare, Mother Teresa, Rock, Benedict Joseph Labre, Peter Maurin, Dorothy Day, Maximilian Kolbe, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Anthony, Ignatius, Agnes, Cecilia, Augustine, Francis Xavier… and on and on, were just people who had fallen head over heels in love with the living God. Yes, they are heroes of our faith, but they are only heroes because they are lovers. However powerful ideals and honour and nobility may be, it is love and only love that is capable of the ultimate heroism.

But when I look at myself, I don’t think I can honestly say I’m in love with God. I love God, but I can’t say I’m in love with Him. Not yet.

I want to be though… I guess we call it falling in love because it’s out of our control. And I guess that the way people fall in love, is by giving in to the love they already have.

God bless you!

P.S. One thing I love, is that this idea that our religion is about falling in love with God Himself isn’t a modern sales pitch, but essential to the faith, running right throughout the Tradition, the New Testament, and back to the Old Testament, taking up the whole book of Song of Songs.

I’m writing a book!

For a while now, I’ve been slowly working on a book of Philosophy/Theology. It began as just one or two philosophical thoughts, but as I wrote them down, I found myself stumbling into other thoughts, including some very theological ones. I don’t really know where it is heading, because every time I revisit it, it seems to lead me in some new direction.

I don’t want to give any details away just yet, firstly because the paint’s still wet, and secondly because I think these thoughts need their proper space. So please forgive me for being vague. I believe these ideas are powerful, and I need to handle them carefully.

I will say that I’m very excited by them. They’ve changed my understanding of basically everything. They’re not particularly similar to anything I’ve written on this blog so far, probably because they can’t easily be slipped in, one at a time. Also, they’re just not ready.

Please say a prayer for me and my book. That I’ll write in humility and truth. That I’ll actually write it, and not get scared and bury it in the ground like the wicked and lazy slave in the parable of the talents. That whatever is true in it thrive, and whatever is false in it wither.

Thanks, and God bless you!

Am I not just adding to the noise?

Why do I bother writing, or even thinking, about matters so high above me, that already have so much said about them, by so many truly extraordinary minds? Am I not just adding to the noise?

No. I’m entering into, and adding to, the harmony of the whole. The things we speak about- the true, the good, and the beautiful- impart themselves to the mediums that bear them, and make prose into poetry and speech into song.

My voice might not be extraordinary, but it was made to sing. And it will not detract from the other, stronger, more beautiful voices, because we were always meant to rejoice in singing different parts of the same song. And not only is the whole made more beautiful with each voice added, but each one, in the mystery that is music, adds to the beauty of each other.

I began writing this thinking only about why it’s worth me bothering to write, when so many people more holy and more learned than me have already spoken on almost everything. By the end I realised I was actually writing about the communion of the Saints. I love it when a post doesn’t do what I planned for it!

God bless you all!

Accept – Offer – Surrender

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‘Accept, offer, surrender’ is a method of prayer I’ve formed recently, to help me come to Jesus and find rest in Him. It’s longer name is, “accept the past, offer the present, surrender the future.” It’s been very helpful to me, and so I share it now, in the hope that it might help someone else.

Accept

I found I have a tendency to fight the past. Stupid, right? I routinely exert my effort and stress into hating and complaining about things I cannot change. On the other hand, meanwhile, I resist the good things I’ve been given, by being ungrateful. I think this is generally because I don’t like that I’m not in control of the good things in my life, so I either ignore them, or pretend they’re my right and take them for granted.

In order to accept what I’ve been given, especially the bad, I start off by saying something like, “Lord, I accept Your love.” Unless I accept God’s love, I’ll always remain on guard against the world, never letting anything in, and always remaining at war. I then proceed to go through the things in my life, especially those most on my heart and mind, and pray, roughly, “Lord, I accept ____ in Your love.” God works everything for good for those who love Him [Rm 8:28], and all things, good and bad, are to be accepted from His hand. God is present in all things, and we ought to love and accept Him in all things.

But some things are seemingly impossible to accept. Thinking about them brings too much pain. When this is the case, I recommend praying again, “Lord, I accept You love me.” Let His love enter you, ask for His help, and try again to accept it. Then, if you fail repeatedly, change tact, and instead accept, offer and surrender your struggle to accept it.

Offer

It is easy to live with a worldly mindset, in which I just get by, serve myself, and my life is basically meaningless. It’s incredibly easy, corrupted as I am by sin, to remain closed in on myself, refusing to love. But we are called to follow Christ, who opened and poured Himself out for us.

I say, “Lord, I offer myself to You now, in union with Jesus’ sacrifice upon the cross, in union with His love, and in union with His obedience.” I then go through every situation I’m in, each problem, each obstacle, and each opportunity, and offer it up to the Father, asking to be obedient in each one, and united to Jesus’ offering upon the cross.

It’s in this offering of love and gratitude that we find true life and true freedom in Christ. In sharing His love, we experience His own joy, and our joy is made complete [Jn 15:11].

Surrender

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Ultimately, I’m not in control; I never have been; I never will be. Nothing at all is truly in my power. But this is good news, because it is all in God’s power, and His plans and desires for me, are far greater than mine. It is difficult to let go of the illusion of control and trust in God, but it is the only way to peace and freedom, both for ourselves, and for those we have been oppressing.

Again, I start with something like, “Lord, I surrender to Your love for me.” I don’t think I could surrender to anything but love, and I don’t think I’d want to. Then, I go through the things I’m uncertain of, each of my fears and my hopes, needs and desires and say, “Lord, I surrender ____ to Your love.” Often I’ll make a petition that it goes a certain way as well, because I know God is a good Father, who is happy to treat us [Mt 7:11].

 

 

God bless you!

 

P.S. Also, if a particular matter arises to trouble me, I’ll do a short accept-offer-surrender for just that issue. I’m sure it can be adapted in many other ways too.

God bless!