The Hidden Temptation

Temptation

I am working on a personal project which is leading me in all sorts of directions. Last night it led me to the following quote, which I really liked it, so I now pass it on to you. I’ve bolded certain terms that I found particularly poignant.

The most common yet most hidden temptation is our lack of faith. It expresses itself less by declared incredulity than by our actual preferences. When we begin to pray, a thousand labors or cares thought to be urgent vie for priority; once again, it is the moment of truth for the heart: what is its real love? Sometimes we turn to the Lord as a last resort, but do we really believe he is? Sometimes we enlist the Lord as an ally, but our heart remains presumptuous. In each case, our lack of faith reveals that we do not yet share in the disposition of a humble heart: “Apart from me, you can do nothing”. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2732)

In the morning when I get up, I have almost unlimited options of what I can do or focus on. What does my heart seek in the morning? Does it seek the Lord, or seek television. And if I seek the Lord do I only do so when I feel I need help, presuming that God will help me?

The CCC further points out that presumption can flow both ways:

There are two kinds of presumption. Either man presumes upon his own capacities, (hoping to be able to save himself without help from on high), or he presumes upon God’s almighty power or his mercy (hoping to obtain his forgiveness without conversion and glory without merit) (2092)

Somewhere between those two is a proper approach to the Lord. 

A day of prayer and fasting

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Pope Francis has called Catholics and invited other Christians and all people of faith to a day of prayer and fasting today for Syria.

#fast4syria #prayforpeace

Will you join with your brothers and sisters, your friends and your enemies to pray for peace in a world that always seems bent on violent resolution, bent towards eternal conflict?

What work do your hands do?

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“Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.
Establish thou the work of our hands;
establish thou the work of our hands.”

Those three lines are the opening sentences of the Midday Prayer in Celtic Daily Prayer.

We use our hands for all sorts of tasks, in fact, pretty much all of them from putting on glasses, brushing our teeth, feeding ourselves, driving, performing wage earning work, building a house, reading a book… our hands are essential to our existence.

Our hands can also be used for evil purposes: they can be used to commit violence, write hate, masturbate, type search terms into google to get a “hit of porn” or indeed, we can simply fail to use our hands for a good (someone needs help but we simply refrain from helping).

Yes, Lord, “establish thou the work of our hands”. Often those of us who study theology can be guilty of “thinking” too much and not “doing” enough with our knowledge. The epistle of James, I think in part, is a warning against this very thing. We have to do something with our faith.

The Anglican liturgy of Confession and Absolution is beautiful because it recognizes this two-fold nature of “done and not done”. It reads in part:

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
….

James tells us to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only” because doing so would be to deceive ourselves (James 1:22). What does it mean to be one and not the other? James says “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” (1:23-35)

Lots of people hear, lots of people believe – even the demons! (2:19), but we are called to be a people of action, punctuated by periods of withdrawal for recharging.

Are you allowing God to “establish thou the work of YOUR hands”? What does he want you to do, what does he not want you to do with your hands?

Remember, Christ taught us to Love the Lord with all your “heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27), so this necessarily implies using the body he gave us. If you hold onto any gnostic notion of the physical body being bad, banish it now and get about the work of the Lord.

Lord, Jesus Christ, I call upon your mercy and grace to help me know where and when you direct my hands to perform your work of love.

Amen.
Totus tuus

Spiritual Journaling

I’m trying to better cultivate some long neglected habits. Chief among them is Spiritual Journalling. One of the problems we face when trying to do this is we don’t really know how to do it. I found a very helpful post by Rick Warren from back in April, 2011. He makes some key distinctions between a diary and a journal and what sorts of question we might ask and record the answers to.

Writing down what God reveals to us is the spiritual habit of journaling. This is not the same as keeping a diary. A diary is, ‘Dear diary, this is what I did today.’ A journal is, ‘This is what I learned today.’ So it’s not about what you did, it’s about what you are learning, what you are praying, and what God is saying to you.

Check it out here.