God is love. Before all creation, whom does God love? –The Blessed Trinity, God the Father loves God the Son and God the Son loves God the Father and the love they share is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit seeks out those souls to whom He can love and can fit into the Blessed Trinity of perfect love.
Blessed Columba a Benedictine and spiritual director to priests and nuns said, “The soul can only be united to God in proportion to its likeness to Him. In order that God may draw it to Himself and elevate it, He must be able in some way to identify Himself with it; that is why, from the beginning, He had created it to His own image and likeness.
“According to the divine plan, man is the link between pure spirituality of the angels and corporeal matter; he is destined to reflect, more perfectly than material creation, the perfections of God.”
What are the perfections of God? The 10 Commandments which are really the 10 Virtues of God.
Keep Holy the Lord’s Day, God is Humble, You shall not have strange gods before me-God is Loyal, God is Honorable—His word is His bond. Do not take the Lord’s name in vain God is respectful, God is Truth and “ful” Honor your father and mother, let’s try some more of the virtues in contrast to the 10 Commandments—
Only Man can most perfectively reflect the perfections of God than any other creature because of his free will to make the virtues of God be himself into his character so that his character is a walking breathing virtue. The Psalmist knows the heart of man fallen nature that is why he prays the longest Psalm 119 in order to make the virtues of God or as mentioned before the commandments of God his very nature. The Psalmist has to crowd out our obstinacy to do our own will in order to do God’s will.
Let us consider the opposite of the virtues of God—Sin and its enormity which can be expiated through the sacrament of Penance.
Blessed Columba says that the Sacrament of Penance or Confession sets our disposition to be open to the grace of God the sacrament affords. However if we approach the sacrament with a light heart facing the crucifixion of Christ on Golgotha and that we afterwards receiving absolution from the priest make no effort to amend our lives or as we said before reflect the perfections of God then the experience is in effective. The Sun shines equally on a clean window and a dirty window. The recipient receives the intensity of the sun’s rays depending on the cleanliness of the window.
God sees himself in full light, as worthy, of all love and all submission. None of us can look at the sun directly without causing blindness. Just as Christ told the apostles that for man to be saved is impossible but with God all things are possible. I can well imagine the suffering saints have gone through in the process of holiness. Perhaps many of us avoid this path towards holiness through the sacrament of Penance for that very reason, confessing to the priest Christ presence on earth is just too painful. Burning off pride really hurts! Some even go as far to make evil to be their good as Nietzsche cited. Man as holy as a saint responds to submit himself with all his heart with all his mind and with all his soul to God— as the Psalmist states in 119 the longest of the Psalms- repetitively,( paraphrasing)—I look forward to your commandments, I love to do your law…I long for your commandments…..I love to do your will Lord.
In the Lord’s Prayer, it states, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. That is why to seek in prayer the purpose of God for our lives, and to enjoy personal fellowship with Christ Who delivers us from the things and creatures that stand in the way of that purpose leads to the harmony of the whole person which is one of the prerequisites of spiritual health.
How do you know that you are becoming more holy…more saintly? The more saintly a person becomes, the more he feels himself a sinner. We Catholics do not make the cross pretty or less attractive because we know the consequence of sin and how hurtful it is to God. We look at the cross of Christ with his flesh hanging like purple rags, representing all the lusts of the eye and envy we hold in our hearts. His hands and feet are pinioned on the cross of contradiction like our hands that hurt or maim or steal from another or our feet that run away from the Lord or the police from our misdeeds as Adam and Eve hid from God. Christ’s lips dry, parched and cracked with blood from the results our foul and vulgar words with one another, and gossip and put downs. His head crowned with thorns as blood and sweat drip down from his forehead and on to his cheeks from all the evil thoughts and deeds that are conjured up in our minds. His side pierced through the heart from all the hearts we broke by our unkindness and selfishness toward others in our parental care or neighbor who whom we did not care for who was homeless, hungry, thirsty or imprisoned or naked or in need of a church community and not once did we mention ours to join. The pierced heart is all the unborn that are killed in abortion or the elderly who are euthanized….. Or those murdered in the streets out of wantonness and cruelty and in homes from domestic violence….. Or extermination of peoples because they do not look or act like us. The Catholic Church unlike other churches does not make the cross of Christ empty without the corpus on the cross. Sin is a serious dirty business we must realize every day in our lives when we fall into its enslavement. Sin latches on to our character just as it latched on to Christ on the Cross.
The saint judges himself not by worldly standards nor by his weak neighbors, but by God Himself who is the perfected image of us. St. Teresa of Avila had written out in her own hand and kept always on her work-table. You would think that she might have chosen one of those elevated expressions of divine charity which used to spring naturally from her heart. No, it was a verse of the Psalm; the greatest of sinners might have chosen it: “Lord, enter not into judgment with Thy servant”. St. Catherine of Siena on her death bed was faithful to her habit as a nun her whole life, repeated constantly these words; “I have sinned, Lord, have pity on me.”
Then once we realize the seriousness of our sins whether venial or mortal—all sin is an offense to God’s perfection– in the Sacrament of Penance we are to make amends or as Blessed Columba states we must have the disposition of compunction towards holiness. Holiness must become habitual in contrast to how sin has become habitual in each of us. When holiness is us then God identifies Himself with us and recognizes us rather than the words we do not want to hear on our judgment day, “Depart from me I know not whom you are.”