When there are so many things that combine to build our spiritual life, and so much is at stake, it is not surprising that we often worry about our day to day spiritual life and scruple over our many faults. The other day when I was specifically concerned about my shortcomings and the imperfections in my lifestyle, it occurred to me to wonder if it would be better not to worry at all. Well, if we want to be saints, it is going to be a constant struggle... and it is GOOD to recognize our faults. But why, then, does God seem to desire our quietness of soul? This problem persisted in dominating my mind for some time, until various scripture passages I came across helped me to come to a conclusion. For a little respite from my endless "preaching", I will show you these passages and how I came to my final conclusion.
"Remain calm, so that you may be able to pray." (1 Peter 4:7)
The lesson here is obvious. If I am overcome with worry about myself and my affairs, how am I to honor God? If I am caught up in my own hazy solutions, how can I hear His voice giving me an answer? How can I reach silence of the heart, and the blessed state of contemplation, if my mind is ever fostering noise and confusion?
"We walk by faith, not by sight." (2 Cor. 5:7)
Why worry about what I cannot understand? If there is fault in me, it is better to begin with the obvious faults I can see and work my way inward, rather than putting my hand blindly into the soil to remove the weed from its tiniest root. If I have faith that God will aid me in my spiritual growth, I will be content to revert always to the simple attempts of virtue and trust that He will guide me to deeper spirituality when I am ready. When God orders, I obey... it matters little that I cannot see where I'll end up, so long as I walk by His will.
"Because you are God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with heartfelt mercy, with kindness, humility, meekness, and patience." (Col 3:12)
What a selfish little thing I am! Here I am busy worrying about my own sanctity and mourning over my many sins, while there is so much charity I could be doing. The time I spend disliking myself is far better spent loving my neighbor. Indeed, the virtues of humility, meekness, and patience are hardly present in me, desiring the top rung of the ladder while I could be toiling faithfully up the path. Is it not better to accept what I am, apologize with tears for my sins, and then strive to redeem myself through virtue? Is it not better to cease to worry about myself, and concern myself with loving and serving others? Only in this way could I reach the goodness that I desire.
"He saved us through Baptism of new birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit." (Ti 3:5)
Ok, well, as much as I worry about what I said yesterday, I'll still have said it. As much as I worry about "all the time I've wasted" or "the lazy way I've been living" I won't get that time back. I can wear out myself easily thinking about what I've done, but thinking about what I'm going to do only invigorates me with a new hope. So... why not start over? Yeah, I do it all the time. Instead of worrying about everything, I say to myself "I am born today" and begin anew. While Jesus may chuckle at how many times I've "been born", I know that He appreciates the renewal of my efforts and my faith in His mercy.
"Whatever you do, you should do for the glory of God." (1 Cor. 10:31)
So often my pursuit of holiness is for the "glory of me." It bothers me that there are so many imperfections in me, and so much wrong in what I do. I know that if I were truly good, these would not exist. But if my focus was only on God, and my sorrow at having hurt Him, and my efforts to please Him... then I would not worry so much over my own transformation as I would for bringing Him all glory, love, and honor that is due Him. Indeed, to love Him is all I've ever wanted... and to be lovable to Him has always been my highest personal ambition. In the face of this all important purpose, every worry fades.
As he went out into the street, a man came running up, greeted him with great reverence, and asked, "Good Teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?"
Jesus said, "Why are you calling me good? No one is good, only God. You know the commandments: Don't murder, don't commit adultery, don't steal, don't lie, don't cheat, honor your father and mother."
He said, "Teacher, I have—from my youth—kept them all!"
Jesus looked him hard in the eye—and loved him. He said, "There's one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me." (Mark 10: 17-21)This was last night's Gospel. If I was not convinced about what I should do after all these Biblical hints, these verses alone are enough of an answer. What can I do? How can I save myself? I'm already trying, and its not working, so what more can I do? Keep the commandments, follow the way of Christ, cling to nothing, but give everything to Him. Alright, I'll do my best.
There is the saying that life is only as complicated as we make it... and this is very nearly right. In faith and obedience to God's will, everything becomes simple. We must repent for our sins and seek to live each day virtuously, full of Charity for God and our neighbor. In doing this the problems in life become clear and distinct, while our spiritual life is unclouded and opened to deeper perception of Jesus. While our faults may hurt us deeply, and our concern for closeness to Christ cause us constant struggle, our love should cast out our fear and confusion. Therefore, do not worry... be still, and know that He is God.