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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hospital for Sinners

So many people who claim to be "spiritual" but not "religious" or choose not to go to Mass, or, if non-Catholic, to not enter into a Christian community of some sort cite as a defense a very tired line:

"Those people are just hypocrites. They preach all these things and don't live it."

Right. Exactly.

I've often had to bite my tongue rather than ask the person making such a "defense" whether they live up to the Christian life themselves, or are they just afraid of being exposed as a sinner like everyone else they condemn with such a statement?

I'm not sure who pointed this out to me, but the Church, our worship as a community as Christ called us to be, is a Hospital for Sinners. We do not go to Mass because we're a bunch of Saints who live perfectly each virtue. Would that it were true, but, alas, after the sin of Adam we can't seem to get back to Eden.

That's why we need Christ. That's why we go to receive Him in the Sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion. Because we're sinners. And yes, hypocrisy is a sin. Not all of us engage in that one...if you're a hypocrite and you admit it, you're on the right path. And you're very much welcome in the Catholic Church; we can help you find your way to TRUE reconciliation so God's grace can put an end to your hypocrisy. Eventually.

What is hypocrisy, really? Just not living up to what you believe and preach?

GUILTY!

That's why I go to Confession so often. However, it doesn't make the Truth I advance, the Truth that comes from Holy Mother Church, from Jesus Christ Himself, any less valid.

As Father Corapi once said, "Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of an ass....an He's still doing it today!"

But what of those seeking more? Called to something different?

Religious Life

I've never been under the impression that those called to the priesthood or religious life are necessarily more holy than anyone else. I've cited a certain personality, but I never said they were holier than anyone else. Additionally, I've looked at religious life from the perspective of my own background and knowledge of flawed human nature: I escaped a dysfunctional family and roommates from hell. Why would I CHOOSE to enter into such a situation again?

Because God calls, and He CAN be refused (free will and all), but isn't it better to acknowledge what we know is coming and be willing to choose it anyway? Out of love for God?

Recently I came across an article citing the stereotype that Nuns and Sisters and Monks and Friars and Priests are all nearly Saints, and when they enter formation, they're nearly perfect already. The article of course ripped that idea to shreds, and suggested that the MONASTERY was a hospital for sinners.

One cannot expect to enter a hospital and find healthy people there. Even the doctors could be taken ill by the very diseases he is trying to cure. Such happened to many Saints and Blesseds who cared for the sick.

But the comparison still didn't work, given that the first premise I already understood was that the Church down the street, the one I attend, or the one I work at, or the one I visit...is already Hospital for Sinners.

I can accept that Religious Life operates on the same premise, but maybe in a more intense manner. This is seen especially reading the works of the Saints.

For class, I've been reading St. Teresa of Avila's "Interior Castle. " I've learned a couple things: I am DEFINITELY NOT Carmelite, (not that that was in question) and....the Sisters in the community aren't Saints, even though the author of the book herself has been declared so. (And the reason is obvious). However, their formation is FAR more intense than that of the average Catholic. They were a cloistered community, living in common, praying in common, dealing with their own various problems and sins...in common. I imagine that no sin is truly hidden in such close quarters.

So, by following logic, it seems to me that if one's own parish is a Hospital...wouldn't that mean that those entering the seminary or religious life are truly so in need that they are called to an Intensive Care Unit for sinners?

That is a far more appealing idea to me. Both as a Sinner AND as a Sinner who recognizes she might be entering back into a world of conflicting personalities and possibly outright dysfunction (given fallen human nature).

Yet that reality is NOT something that excludes holiness. St. Catherine of Siena revealed how all virtues are obtained through one's neighbor. Thus...we are made holier by loving our neighbor geographically and those in our own parish community. That potential of holiness can increase when one lives in an even closer community; such as a monastery or, even the family.

Conclusion

Bring me to a Hospital full of Sinners ANY day. Because it's a LOT easier to be a hypocritical sinner in the company of others who realize what they are than it is to be a hypocritical sinner dying all alone.

At least there's hope for recovery in the Church...there sure isn't outside of it.

I don't want to die alone without the opportunity of loving others.

6 comments:

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

yes...i fully agree...:)

Adoro said...

Joe ~ I can always count on you to agree. But dang it, if I ever say something with which you disagree...speak up!

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

no worries, I will, but I only speak up against heretics, and you are not one :)

Hidden One said...

So where's the emergency room?

Adoro said...

Well in my Church, that would be the confessional, which is located in the Adoration Chapel. :-)

Jennie said...

This is one of the most awesome posts that I have ever read (no kidding). More often than I like to admit I can sit in church and think "What the heck am I doing here I am such a total looser?" and, "What the heck are they doing here...?" Then I come to my crabby, darkened-by-sin senses and praise the Lord that I can walk through those doors(inspired by the good sense of the Holy Spirit to do so) get down on my knees and ask for forgiveness in my spiritual emergency room, the confessional, to be forgiven by our merciful God, the great physician, who was willing to die for my broken, diseased person. The red cross, red with the saving blood of Christ, will bring to mind more than it ever has before. Cool. -Jennifer