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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ladder Climbing 101

Life is like a ladder.
Life is like a ladder. Every step we take is either up or down.

We make a ladder for ourselves out of our vices if we trample the vices themselves under foot.— St. Augustine


I gets to thinkin' - always a dangerous thing to do when alone. My mind can be a lot like a dangerous neighborhood. It is not a good thing to go into alone.

I was thinking about the woman on The Hive who is a convert to Judaism and insists that she is now Jewish. She wrote how grateful she was that the website for St Joseph's was not working when she first moved to Modesto because that's why she ended up converting to Judaism. When I commented on the shallowness of chosing one's spiritual path based on whether or not a website was working you would have thought I had ordered her into the gas chamber.

I know I have lamented the lack of critical thinking skills and sense of humor that has pervaded The Hive but I had really forgotten how sad it is when a group of people - and I do not care what their political bent is - starts to take themselves so dang seriously that they can tolerate no criticism. I had also forgotten that when people have committed themselves to a path of bigotry and intolerance in the name of freedom and the 'rights of all' there is no reasoning with them. It truly becomes a test of Faith, Hope and Love (the three theological virtues that I lack...a lot).

St Max Kolbe, the priest murdered at Auschwitz because of his fighting the Nazis in Poland, was offered two crowns by Our Lady when he was a boy. One was red and the other white....he was offered the crown of martyrdom and the crown of glory and he humbly requested both. What bravery. What trust. There is something marvelous about those heroic people who can, without a moment of hesitation, choose LIFE as a way of combating death. There is nothing marvelous about me. I would have stopped to think about which crown I wanted and knowing me, I would have wanted all the trappings of being a martyr (their stories sound so COOL when you tell them, fifty years later) but none of the pain. The reality of my life is I am a coward.

So, a saint I will never be (unless the cowardly are in need of a patron saint, at which point Our Lord just may have created the perfect person for that role) but I can be a faithful Catholic. I cannot, of course, do that under my own steam. For that I need sanctifying grace - the grace that is provided only through a Sacramental life - and maybe, just maybe I might be able to squeak outta Purgatory and into Heaven someday.

That is my goal. It is difficult for people to take that seriously as a goal but it is mine - I really do want to stand before Our Lord and be able to answer His questions with a smile on my face. Yes, Lord, I tried my best to clothe You, to feed You, to visit You in prison...I tried, Lord, to see Your face in the face of those who hated me. I tried, and when I failed I went to Your holy priests and received Your absolution for my sins...and then I tried it again.

Once upon a time I was a little girl who just wanted to be loved. Today I am a woman who knows she is loved....but sometimes I shirk the responsibility that goes with that Love. It takes more to be a Christian than confessing faith or going to Mass on Sundays. It takes more to be a Christian than talking the talk...and walking the walk is really tougher than it looks.

As I paraphrase the words of St Theresa of Avila, no wonder so few people want to know You, Lord. Your love can mean suffering and pain, but who could possible miss the JOY?

So, I let the haters yell and scream. No one likes Christians. Everyone hates Catholics. If I had told people that Squanto, the Native American who helped the Pilgrims through that rough winter, did so because he was a convert to Catholicism (specifically, he was a third order Franciscan) ......oy vey.

Happy Thursday everyone!

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