“En Priere”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Kaleidoscope”, (1993)
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So because thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, “I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing”; and knowest not that thou art the wretched one and miserable and poor and blind and naked:
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold refined by fire, that thou mayest become rich; and white garments, that thou mayest clothe thyself, and that the shame of thy nakedness be not made manifest; and eyesalve to anoint thine eyes, that thou mayest see.
19 As many as I love, I reprove and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21 He that overcometh, I will give to him to sit down with me in my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. Revelations 3:15-22
I have indulged in a couple of rants, in the last few posts. These rants are the result of giving into temptation, indulging in old passions, backsliding into old habits of thought and judgement and are not evidence of progress but rather sure evidence of regress, back into old sins, the temptations to which we struggle with every day.
We Catholics have the great good fortune of repenting and going to Confession (Reconciliation), and doing penance, and of knowing with certainty that we are forgiven, and we get to rise up and start the trek again, the trek to Divine Union. We are humbled by recollecting and saying our current sins; seeking forgiveness; and receiving, celebrating and confirming our liberation from sin. This spiritual transaction of confession prompts God’s forgiveness as well as his cleansing from the very source of the desire to sin.
Every person who believes in Christ can experience this freedom (confession and forgiveness). But it is our choice; God will not force a relationship on us. There is a beautiful depiction of Jesus as the light of the world in a painting titled The Light of the World by William Holman Hunt, a pre-Raphaelite artist, at Keble College, Oxford, and Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London.
Christ is knocking at a door just before dawn with light emanating from his head and from a lantern he is carrying. He appears to have been there for some time; the door to this soul’s house is overgrown with ivy and thorns and is encircled by a bat. There is no handle on the door from the outside; the door has to be opened from within. He waits …
At our door there is a knocking, we hear it, and we have difficulty making ourselves get up to answer the door. The knocking continues for what seems like a long time and it never stops. it gets louder or quieter as we turn to and fro from this world to eternity and back again. It gets quieter when we indulge our love of self and sin in our judgements and anger.
Eventually we have to get up and answer the door or die in our sin for all eternity. We, perhaps, finally get up and go to the door and looking out we see Jesus sitting on the steps outside the door. He had been there a long time and is surrounded with a number of unopened gifts he had brought us.
Many of us who have made a commitment to follow Christ and have drunk deeply from his redemptive hand have trouble receiving all the goodness of God because we always know who we still really are.
(material in the previous five paragraphs is excerpted and paraphrased to my own situation and perceptions, from “Is Reality Secular?: Testing the Assumptions of Four Global Worldviews“, by Mary Poplin (Veritas Books) (pp. 241). InterVarsity Press.)
So, that’s where my head is right now, and I am going to restate some truths, some cultural truths, or precepts that are at least 4 millennia old in the Judeo-Christian tradition, namely my Worldview, which seems to make sense of all the events in our world. These are the basic Judeo-Christian precepts related to reality and the existence and operations of evil in the world that Jesus and the early Hebrews, prophets and so on, taught:
- We are all living in a fallen world (nature and humanity are in a fallen state).
- Evil began when Satan, originally an angel who was created by God for good, wanted to take God’s place (the very thing with which he tempted Eve—“you will be like God, knowing good and evil,” Genesis 3:5).
- Satan is God’s enemy but not equal to God.
- Satan took one-third of the angels with him in his rebellion. There are not two equal forces in the universe, but rather a King, and a rebel … this is a civil war, not a battle between equals. Where we find ourselves is living in that part of the universe controlled by the rebels and their followers.
- We are involved in a spiritual war between good and evil—a war not for or against people but against the spiritual powers that humans choose to serve.
- We are always serving one or the other—good or evil; nothing is static and there is no neutral demilitarized zone.
- Unable to affect God, Satan seeks to recruit and infect human beings, whom God loves, by using humankind for his rebellion.
- Humans are made in God’s image and are special to God. The demons, the rebels, prowl throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.
- Though designed to be good, humans are given free will, which allows the possibility that human beings will choose to do evil.
- The laws by which all creation was made prevail, both physical laws and human ones, and breaking them incurs consequences: “your sins have kept good from you” (Jeremiah 5:25).
- Nature also groans and is affected by evil in part due to the sins of man.
- There is far more good than evil in the world and far more chance that we will live today rather than die.
- God works so that evil tends to destroy itself—falling into the pit it digs for others.
- Evil is irrational. Evil “rationalizes” evil conduct in the interest of self love. In reality, it makes no more sense to be offended by Scriptural and Moral Truth than to be offended by gravity or the nuclear processes at work in the sun.
- There are authorities (in heaven and on earth), and the moral condition of those authorities influences those under their authority.
- There is an ultimate divine justice in eternity.
All of these precepts are covered in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but are drawn from history and the Judeo-Christian Tradition. there is a Divine Plan and we are a part of it, wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence,) with fear and trembling work out your salvation.
Fight against the Fire and do not give up hope …