A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Monday, February 13, 2006


In events such as freestyle skiing, a successful athlete must "stick the landing" – that is, land squarely on both skis without wavering or losing balance. Failure to "stick the landing" can cause more than just loss of points: it can also cause the athlete to fall and even to suffer injury.

It is a good metaphor for life and also for today's first reading (James 1:1-11).

Like the skier, as we go through life, if we persevere and remain steady – if we "stick the landing" – we will succeed.

The keys to sticking a landing in sports are awareness, control and strength.

Successful athletes know where the ground is, know where their feet are, keep their feet and bodies in the right positions, and have the strength to hold themselves upright against the forces of wind, gravity and momentum.

The key to sticking a landing in life is faith.

A person who doubts, says St. James in today's first reading, is "unstable in all his ways."

People who doubt will not "stick" their landings, but will tumble down the hill.

People who doubt are unsure about objective reality (even as they are about to fall face first into it) and are even unsure about who they really are.

People who doubt are more likely to be controlled by their bodies rather than the other way around.

People who doubt are more likely to be "tossed about by the wind" of other people's opinions and the momentum of events, and thus doomed to be brought crashing down by the gravity of reality.

People of faith, on the other hand, are perfectly aware of reality: reality as God created it to be, reality as broken by sin, and reality as transformed by grace. People of faith know where the ground is, for their ground is Christ: their rock and stronghold. People of faith know where their feet are, through the practice of continual self-examination and the grace of discernment.

People of faith, with the help of God's grace, control themselves and their bodies, rather than let their bodies control them.

And finally, by the unconquerable power of Christ, people of faith have the strength to withstand the shocks of life, the winds of opposition, and the relentless pull of the material world.

By the grace of Christ we can stick our landings.

Doubt, of course, is an insidious thing. Even as we read these words from St. James, doubt may creep up and in our ear may whisper memories of past failures and present imperfections.

Again, the metaphor of the athlete is instructive, for even the greatest of Olympic athletes have fallen – sometimes very seriously.

Successful athletes, however, remain focused on their event, even after a fall. They make the necessary adjustments and move forward. An athlete who remains focused on a fall will never again rise.

Likewise, when we fall, we turn to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for forgiveness, healing, and grace: letting Christ enter more fully into us so that we may not fall again.

People who doubt focus on their falls. People of faith focus on Christ.

Thus, no matter how much or how badly we may have fallen, no matter what troubles or obstacles beset us, by the grace of Christ we can stick our landings.