Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Okay, this may not sound religious to anyone but I'll explain.
I have heard it said many times by fellow Carmelites, "We'll go to heaven because we wear the habit of Our Lady." That's very encouraging and even consoling, but it does not satisfy me. Sure, I believe in the promises of Mary and believe very much in the Scapular promise, but faith is not only satisfied with receiving the gift, but prompts one to also give. In other words, a mouse that has fallen into a cookie jar does not make him (or her) a cookie! A Religious, just because she wears a religious habit, does not make her a Religious unless she tries to live according to what she professes. She will continuously fall because of weakness but the Psalmist says, "A just man falls seven times." One thing I admire about St. Teresa (and the Teresian Carmelites) is her great and BOLD determination. "It is no use to say "we are only human" when in fact, by God's grace, we can be Saints!" (Way of Perfection). Are we up to the challenge? There is a great temptation for "religious people" to be falsely comfortable just because one does the acts of religion. This is not always good because it gives one a sense of complacency. Jesus came to bring discomfort to the comfortable. If this is the case, how does one know if one proceeds from the motive of faith or the motive of false security? How does one know we are not deceiving ourselves into thinking we got a spiritual life? I think that is part of the problem! Life on earth is full of illusions and the devil disguises himself as an angel of light. Not all that glitters is gold. Bad things come under the color of good. We have heard these before, haven't we? So, how do we proceed?
I think it's good to be uncertain. It forces one to trust, to abandon oneself to the mercy of God. It humbles us, it makes us think that truly God does not play favorites, that His favors cannot be bought. Prayer, an intimate exchange between God and the soul, establishes us in trust. In prayer we enter into a relationship of love. Love makes one confident. It makes one daring and bold. Perfect love casts away all fears. When someone loves us, we have a hold on them because love subordinates the lover to the object of his /her love. God is a tremendous Lover. But we can only fully appreciate that love if we get to know Him in the silence, solitude and intimacy of prayer.