Oh Lord, purify me, make me a chalice in which you dwell, offer your sacrifice in me and spread your love through me. Let me shine like gold, adorn me with the jewels of virtue that I may always be open to you. Fill me. Overflow me. Let me be like that most perfect vessel, the Singular Vessel of Devotion, She to whom I cry for protection against the Evil One. I ask this for your glory, for the vessel is nothing without the sustenance inside, the cup nothing unless it is filled. Oh Lord, purify me.

Give me a word, Abba

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hard Teaching

One of the most cited verses from the Bread of Life Discourse in the Gospel of John is the one that goes like this: "This teaching is hard."

That's what Jesus's disciples say when he says that they have to eat his flesh and drink his blood. Then they leave him. Often in Catholic/Protestant debates, this comes up when discussing the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Let us set aside this hard teaching, because there are other hard teachings. People mostly don't think about the Eucharistic teaching because either they take it for granted, believe it and love it, or they don't believe it and don't really care.

It seems that almost every Catholic struggles with one or more of the teachings of the Church, or at least some of the practices of the Church. Does this mean that they have to leave the Church? What does Union with the Church mean? What constitutes heresy?

Now, I can generally give the reasons for practices and teachings of the Church. Does that mean that I don't struggle with them? There are things called emotions and desires. For those who are less familiar with the reasons, the struggles must be much worse.

We are "the Church of the dropouts, the losers, the sinners, the failures, the fools." (Switchfoot) We are always struggle to find our way and often can not. We turn our backs on God because He seems to turn His back on us. We dropout of the Communion of Saints, and yet we know that we must stay. We desire our God, but we want Him on our own terms. We want to hold onto the rope but would rather not climb the mountain.

We think we understand the Mountain. We actually don't. We think we have arrived at a resting point, we think we have finally encountered the Life of God, we have finally reached the top. Then we realize that there is a sheer wall in front of us that is insurmountable. These hard teachings, these calls to do the impossible, to feel the impossible and believe the impossible get in our way to the extent that we just want to stay put without plunging forward.

Obviously we can't do it, which is why we don't want to. Only God can do it, and He wants to. We have to really want to do His will without thinking about our personal preferences. If God or the Church tells us something, we have the duty to listen and the act accordingly. The Church gives lots of leeway when it comes to spirituality, but because it does that, it reserves the authority to judge these spiritualities according to the teachings of Christ.

When we encounter a disconnect between what the Church says and what we want, let us look into the reasons the Church does what she does. Let us try to understand. Let us not be afraid to lose what is ours, for Christ said that anyone who gives up things in this life will be repaid a hundred fold in the next.

Let us not be afraid, as a wise man told the whole Church just 34 years ago.

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