If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

By Degrees

Another reprint of an essay appearing in my third book, Learning to Lean. This essay also appeared here several months ago, but many of you are new to the blog, so this post will be new to you:

PS: After I posted this, a friend told me about this song by Casting Crowns. It is a must see:

But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith . . . (Jude 20).

Some time ago, close friends gave me a Day by Day Bible desk calendar for Christmas – the kind with tear-off sheets for each day of the year. Each sheet had a Bible verse and an encouraging quote from a Saint or other notable Christian. I referred to the pages nearly every day I was in my office.

The gift didn't surprise me. From all external signs, she and her husband of fifteen years seemed a model Christian couple. They attended Mass each Sunday and sent their two children to Catholic school. But a few months after they gave me the gift, her husband discovered she’d been routinely unfaithful to him for more than two years.

I know such things happen all the time. People attend Mass, say the prayers, hear the homily, sing in the choir, receive the Eucharist. But beneath the religious activity can lurk a Judas.

In the decades I’ve walked with Christ, I’ve observed that no one ever turned away from Him overnight. It's always been a slow process. A compromise here. An excuse there. A rationalization . . . . and the heart hardens by degrees. 

That's one reason I bring myself to God every morning and evening in prayer, study of His word, and worship. I take the time and make the effort to strengthen myself in my faith and in my faithfulness to Him. I do so because, although I love Him with a deepening love, I fear that given the right circumstances, I could do the unthinkable and succumb to Satan's insidious deceptions. I could grow, by degrees, unfaithful to my Divine Bridegroom. 

And I routinely ask, Lord, help me strive to remain honest and pure.

And holy.

We must have a real living determination to reach holiness. “I will be a saint” means I will despoil myself of all that is not God; I will strip my heart of all created things . . . I will renounce my will, my inclinations, my whims and fancies, and make myself a willing slave to the will of God. – Blessed Mother Teresa

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