During Tuesday’s Vespers Service for the new Archbishop of Denver, a Scripture passage was proclaimed that seemed to speak very clearly to the recent workings of my own interior life. Here is the text:
Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. (Romans 12:9-11)
What is most striking in this passage is its direct and clear language. “hate evil…hold on to what is good.” We should be as direct and clear in our practice. In my own prayer these past few weeks, such clarity and direct ‘language’ has been my own experience.
The LORD has made clear to me the practices in my own life that are holding me back in my growth in holiness. The damaging nature of these attitudes and practices has been made crystal clear. The LORD is giving the grace to ‘hate’ these things, as well as the ‘grace’ to turn away, and to ‘hold on to what is good.’
Prayer gives God the ‘opening’ to reveal to us the error of our ways. He does so with great love, for He wants us to return to Him and the life and love He offers. As we become aware of our sinful ways, we also see how these behaviors offend God. This is what leads to true contrition and sorrow, and with God’s grace, grants us the necessary resolve to amend our ways.
I know that God can and does work ‘any way He chooses’, but I wonder if these ‘graces’ would have been ‘recognized’ or ‘acted’ upon had it not been for the grace of these days of going deeper in prayer? Thus, I believe a part of what the LORD is calling all of us to in these days is a renewed attention to our relationship with Him. I believe this renewed attention is meant to be primarily through prayer and the sacraments.
Part of what ails our Church and our society today is a dulled conscience. When our conscience is dulled by making too many accommodations to the ‘ways of the world’ that fly in the face of the ‘ways of God,’ as individuals, we experience an unintended separation, or distancing from God. The cumulative effect then is that society as a whole experiences greater and greater division, unrest, even upheaval.
Listen to what the Second Vatican Council document on the Church In The Modern World (Gaudium Et Spes 16) has to say in this regard:
Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, tells him inwardly at the right moment: do this, shun that. For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. His dignity lies in observing this law, and by it he will be judged. (Romans 2:15-16) … Hence, the more a correct conscience prevails, the more do persons and groups turn aside from blind choice and try to be guided by the objective standards of moral conduct.
Prayer and Sacrament put us in deeper communion with the Author of this Natural Law. Prayer and Sacrament give us the proper ‘sensitivity’ to this Voice within us that says: “Do good.” “Avoid evil.” Prayer and Sacrament give us the grace to abide by this Voice, and thus to grow in ‘sincere love and mutual affection.’
I hope and pray our parishes are already implementing practical ways to renew the prayer and sacramental life of our people, as our Diocesan Strategic Plan calls for. The renewal of the Church, and strengthening the moral fiber of our society begins and is accomplished one person at a time.
The LORD is calling: “Follow me.” Let us hear and answer His call as He leads us to Himself and to lives that are capable of experiencing the ‘fullness of joy’!