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...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Persecuting the prophets

Some people say that the Church persecutes saints while they are alive and canonizes them after they are dead.

As a rule, those who say such things feel that they themselves are unwelcome and unappreciated by Church authorities – or worse.

Those who say such things, hearing today’s first reading (Acts 7:51-8:1) might also cast themselves in the role of Stephen (speaking the truth to power) and their ecclesiastical opponents as the hypocritical, murderous Sanhedrin (using power to suppress the truth).

This anti-hierarchical, self-righteous view is simplistic to the point of inaccuracy (if not delusion).

Have holy people been persecuted by religious authorities over the millennia? Yes, but so were heretics (in much greater number).

Persecution is no guarantee of orthodoxy, nor is holding religious office a guarantee of personal sanctity.

Sometimes the conflicts between living saints and religious authorities were problems of communication (a common problem, especially in the non-wired past).

Sometimes the conflicts arose because the words and lifestyle of the saint implicitly or explicitly challenged the imperfections of particular religious officeholders.

The bottom line for us is first to be diligent in continually examining our own consciences.

All of us fall short of perfection in some way. Have we rationalized our ongoing moral failures? Have we rationalized our unwillingness to progress further in our personal sanctity and knowledge of God? Do we resist or resent anyone who might implicitly or explicitly remind us of our rationalizations and our failures?

May we turn more fully to the Lord
and open ourselves more and more to his grace.

Secondly, insofar as we are faithful to the Lord, we too will be opposed: subtly or otherwise.

May we cling to the Lord
– or rather –
allow ourselves to be grasped
fully and firmly by his mighty hand:
living our lives in this world
not according to our own comfort and desire
nor according to the slippery winds of popularity,
but living our lives in this world
according to the eternal will and truth
of our loving God.