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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Patience, Revisited

There's a parish near my house a little closer than the one where I attend Mass. I often liked to go there for Confession, because I had a very holy priest friend who served there. He's not there anymore, but it's a beautiful church in many ways, despite being new in construction, relatively speaking.

It starts earlier in the day than our Reconciliation time, and that's nice, also. I saw ten or twelve folks ahead of me, so I didn't worry.

I should have; it seemed to take forever. Their vigil Mass starts right after the time, and I thought I may miss out. Besides that, each one seemed to take a long time. I kept looking at the crucifix; I wanted the Lord to know that I was sorry, that my eyes of faith and my heart saw things clearly. I want to agree with the Lord about reality, and I always do, even if my walk tells me I have moments of doubt.

That's what a sin is, ultimately: a freely chosen moment of unbelief, after a fashion. Suppose--and you may correctly suppose--I never doubt the dogmas of our faith. It may be said that I possess the theological virtue of faith. (I might even say I possess it in large measure, thanks be to God.) But a failure of obedience is a sin against charity, against supernatural love.

I am thankful that we do not lose faith, even if we sin against charity, even mortally. How might we find our way back, if we could not assent to what is true at all? Think of this: the first step of repentance is to agree with God that what we have done or failed to do is contrary to what God has revealed. So, to possess the belief of demons per St. James, it may be precisely correct concerning the supernatural, but it lacks charity, or agape.

When St. John talks about "believing," he means the assent-action synergy, let's call it. St. Paul and St. James believe that constitutes salvation, too, but those two distinguish between living faith and dead faith a little more explicitly, because they have to, pastorally speaking. John mainly wants us to know that Jesus is the one in whom we should hope.

I won't bore you with another Protestant-Catholic theology lecture, though it could become that, and it's important. Rather, I simply find that I'm asking the Lord to increase my love. I have no problem knowing anything in this realm, but whether I love Him enough to keep His commands is ever the question.

In Matthew 7:21, when the Lord replies, "Away from me, you evildoers, I never knew you," in one sense, it may be slightly much to say he meant, "I never loved you," since He ever loves. But, it is right I think, for us to read it mentally, "you never loved me." The remarkable thing about grace is that it makes us--feeble, dusty us--friends with God. It's a miracle to behold; even those who will fail to persevere are doing a thing that is not proper to their nature by itself to do: rightly confessing Him as Lord. Yet may we not only confess Christ, but love him. I believe; help my unbelief!

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