Praying Mentis

A Laymen's Journey into the Catholic faith.

Monday, October 22, 2012

On a Wise Choice

I have to admit, I never thought much of Casting Crowns. It was one of my Dad's favorite bands. I remember him calling me upstairs to listen to them on several occasions. I was listening to Pandora today, and the song, "If We Ever Needed You,"  came on. I was reading the Catechism at the time, about our call to be Christian and how the apostles first started their mission (see Mark 16:20).

It made me remember a conversation I had with a good friend back my senior year of college. My friend asked what the difference was between living a Christian life and not. My answer should've been, "When there is a christian preaching the gospel of God, you will know God is there because of the signs that will necessarily follow." I knew this then, but I didn't know how to articulate it. When you are doing what God asks you to, you can better see him around you in the small things. Especially in subtle coincidences and in answered prayers.

One reason we fall from God is because we have some kind of doubt that we feel needs to be settled. Or we have a sin that we can't let go of which can cause us to lose faith (because we justify our sin to ourselves). Doubt can arise from simply not looking toward God. I think everytime I am weak in my faith it is for that reason. I try to do things on my own. But if we search for God, we will find Him. Despite the simple nature of the previous statement, this search can be difficult. I was reading St. Augustine today and the intensity of his search for God through prayer struck me:

"...tell me of Thy compassion, O Lord my God, what Thou art to me. 'Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.' So speak that I may hear. Behold, Lord, the ears of my heart are before Thee; open Thou them, and “say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.” (Confessions of St. Augustine)

I know I keep bringing up my Dad, but I feel it is relevant to this subject. The last thing my dad said to me before his first heart failure was, "David, do you look back in your life and find how God has worked in your life these past few years?" I smiled and turned back to him thinking he was being his overly contemplative self, and said " Yes! Are you kidding?" And I cited the reasons. There are too many to mention right now, but i will say meeting my fiance is one of them. 

I'm reminded of what Pope Benedict had to say on starting actions with prayer: "Whenever we pray together, where we receive God’s gifts with thankfulness, a new heart comes into being, which also changes us ourselves..." (God is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life. Page 52). It is important for us to always remember God's gifts in order for us to be changed, and to have a "new heart".

Too often we forget God's gifts in our lives and become ungrateful. We become exactly like the Israelites fleeing from the persecution of the Pharaoh, who after being persecuted all of their lives by a ruling dictator (Satan), displace their anger upon the God who liberated them. They began to seek other means to overcome the pain they were experiencing, which involved seeking idles over God. They didn't realize that God Himself was there for them, and time and time again God revealed Himself to them. And yet, they required more to believe, as is the case with us. 

We don't realize that our sins have punishments despite the fact that they are forgiven. Or in terms of the graph below we become ungrateful as the gifts we are given pile up. But maybe the greatest punishment we receive is the consequential punishment of unrequited love. 

"What am I to Thee that Thou demandest my love, and unless I give it Thee art angry, and threatenest me with great sorrows? " (Confessions of St. Augustine)

Not to distort the order of things too much, but the above quote was what inspired this blog in the first place. This one quote reminds me of the brokenness I have seen around me. Everywhere I see brokenness I also see rejection of God. God is love, so those who reject Him are essentially casting themselves into sorrow. It's kind of sad really. Or in other cases, God comes secondarily to some other material object. That in mind, let me share with you this quote:

"We did what was right in our eyes, and now our children will pay the price." (Casting Crown, If We Ever Needed You)

Sin never only affects us. If you choose not to spread God's message to world, you're choosing to spread the message of another "god". Or as John Lenin put it, 

"You're gonna have to serve somebody/Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord/But you're gonna have to serve somebody."

Our sin directly affects everyone around us as well as God, which is a fact we often overlook. Our family, friends, and especially our future or present children. This is something that has helped me to put the proper weight to the seriousness of sin in life, and has helped me to continually battle against it.

Augustine of Hippo. (1886). The Confessions of St. Augustin J. G. Pilkington, Trans.). In P. Schaff (Ed.), A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series, Volume I: The Confessions and Letters of St. Augustin with a Sketch of His Life and Work (P. Schaff, Ed.) (46). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.