Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 34 From all their distress God rescues the Just; Matthew 6:7-15
I have had a book of lenten reflections on my shelf for several years now and i had yet to really open it and look at it. This morning i woke up early because it seems my cell phone, which is my alarm clock, as been acting strange since the time change. It has been ringing an hour earlier then i have set it. It keeps trying gain an hour.
It must have a glitch in its system. But again, i think we all experience that with the hour change.
Nonetheless this morning I decided to break open that book of reflections, having time on my hands, and see what it said.
I must say i was disappointed.
That is right. I was disappointed with the reflection for the tuesday of the first week of lent.
Here is an excerpt that really bothered me, the author posed this question, "Is it important, then, to get to work on our worst sins and try to sandpaper them away? In past times those pursuing a life of virtue might have made notes on their failings and falls from grace within a 24 hour period. This spot-checking as a long history, this kind of self-criticism may not be a good idea. such a blame game-even against ourselves-seems based on a narrow understanding of God as a vindictive Being who is pointing his finger at us and keeping track of whatever we do wrong."
The author goes on to suggest that rather than be self- critical we should focus on God's love and mercy and move forward.
THis disappointed me.
Do we try to better ourselves with self-critical eye because of our narrow understanding of a God as vindictive and pointing fingers or do we try to better ourselves with a self-critical eye in order to respond to the love and mercy we have received from God?
Doesn't Jesus tell us to recognize the wood in our own eye?
Does he not tell us to be attentive to our pray so that we don't babble like the pagans in today's gospel?
Is not self-examination essential to understanding our we respond to God's grace in our life, grace that builds and perfects our nature?
The author as a narrow view of grace. The author presumes that God's love and mercy are magic. That we have no part to play in our own perfection.
I examine myself and it isn't because I think God is vindictive or pointing fingers it is because to discipline myself to respond more e to God's offer of mercy and love.
Self- examination and wanting to improve by recognizing our short comings and failings isn't opposed to God's mercy and love as the author suggest but is because of God's mercy and love.
what is amazing about this author is that she is founding member of Chrysostom society named after St. John Chrysostom who states the following, "Let thy mind and thy thoughts sit in judgment over thy soul. Look into thy doings, cast out thy faults, and to each of them assign a fitting chastisement and a proportionate penance."
I think the author missed the point on this one...
Grace and nature go together. Love and mercy are not opposed to self-critical examination and desire to make amends. When we recognize our faults in light of God's mercy we are able to move forward and thus seek to learn to grow in perfection and learn to love truly as we are created to love.
Just a thought for today....besides all St. Charles Borromeo hired someone to follow him around taking note of his faults and failings just in case he would forget or fail to notice them himself. He did this in light of his desire to love more fully and to be available to respond to God's grace.
Sometimes I think the modern spirituality is a bit soft and presumes too much on God's love and mercy and yet remain unwillingly to get their hands dirty where true growth is concerned.