Is Your Christianity Showing?

Every once in a while, it’s a prudent spiritual practice to take a hard look at ourselves. Thankfully I’m Catholic and I have a confessor/priest who is a valuable aid in doing this. He knows my sins and my struggles. As a convert, I know that we humans can often be either too hard on ourselves or too easy on ourselves. My confessor can be objective about my faith journey. He listens and directs me, keeping me focused on conforming my will to that of the Lord.  

A good way to prepare for confession is to meditate on the Ten Commandments. Apply each one to your life and pray that God will open your heart to any way that you might have strayed from them. One of my college theology professors (a joyful Cistercian priest) told us to add this question to our preparation: “What would my life look like if I lived like I truly believed in Jesus Christ?” This has been such a great aid to me over the years. It makes me look, not only at my failings and sins, but also at my attitudes and even more—am I living in the joy of Jesus?

Keeping His commandments is doing what Jesus has taught us (John 14:16). These days it seems that the idea of sin has ceased to be relevant in our modern culture. It’s this sort of nonchalant attitude that leads many people away from God. There IS objective sin and we know what is is because God has told us. He’s also told us that the love we give to one another is the greatest of all His commandments (Matthew 5:43-48). Obedience and love. 

Is this what our life looks like? Are we living in obedience to God and sharing His love with others? It’s only through God’s grace that our lives can be transformed. The Sacraments impart God’s grace to us in Baptism, Holy Communion, Confession, and Confirmation. In them, we encounter the fullness of God’s love for us in the Church He established. But we’re called to go out into the world to transform it and not remain within the Church walls. It’s easy to love the folks who love us, but that’s just the beginning of our Christian mission.  

Your family, your friends, and the members of your parish might testify that Christ is important to you. But what about the other people in your life? Would your boss agree? Do you treat your coworkers with love and respect? Could someone look at your Facebook posts and know the love of Jesus? Does your neighbor experience the love and joy of Christ through you? How are you serving your community, including the poor, the sick, the lonely, the imprisoned, and the marginalized?  

This isn’t easy. Without the strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit, it’s impossible. The great Saints know this, that’s one reason they’re Saints. If you think you can’t do it alone, you’re on the right path. You can’t. But He can. And accepting the gift of God’s grace is the most important decision you’ll ever make. Sometimes the hardest thing for us to accept is that God really and truly loves us and loves us right now, just as we are, in the midst of our messy lives.  

Whatever God gives and permits: temptation, being tried by people, hurt or abuse, or any sort of trouble—He gives and permits it for our good, either to cleanse us of our sins or for our growth in perfection and grace.”

           —St. Catherine of Siena


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Brian H. Gill
    Sep 02, 2017 @ 18:38:03

    Indeed. Like Burns said: “…O wad some Power the giftie gie us / To see oursels as ithers see us! …” ( )

    I agree, starting rational navel-gazing with the 10 Commandments is a good idea. So, as you discussed, is remembering to love.

    I have trouble with lists, so maybe I should condense that to ‘do I love God and my neighbor, and see everyone as my neighbor?’ (Matthew 22:36–40, Mark 12:28–31; Matthew 5:43–44; Mark 12:28–31; Luke 10:25–30; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1825)

    Getting a spiritual director is something I keep forgetting about. Now *that’s* something to think about.


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