November 24, 2010

His Answer Prompts Me ~

I read something extraordinarily beautiful today. In fact, it is like it was speaking to me .

I have desired God's will and I know that means living a chaste life . You would think this was so easy but in my world it's like rocket science .

Must I struggle to live a chaste life [without sex] and still date my boyfriend? I don't know if that is a real solution or if it is even possible.

Anyhow ,the editor of the Boston Catholic Journal wrote the following in response to a letter from a young woman who has been living with her boyfriend for over 4 years. I liked it as I could relate to it with a few exceptions of course.

First, I wish to thank you for writing such a candid and trusting letter — this took great courage … and the prompting of God Who alone stirs your heart to do so. It is such a humbling realization to find that God Himself knows us — little and sinful as we are - — and comes to us asking not just for a place in our heart … but for our very heart! And so He has come to you. “You have not chosen me: but I have chosen you” (St. John 15.16).

He comes to you and now He sues for your love — your love in return for His. You are “the beloved”. He has set His heart upon you, and as any lover, He loves you with a jealous love, wanting you, desiring you for Himself above all, before all — and so great a Lover is God that He would keep you for Himself alone, as “the Love of your life.” That is to say, He wants your love pre-eminently and above all other loves. In a word, Little One, you are beginning to realize what you have yet to crystallize in your heart, to come to terms with in your mind: the astounding realization that He, God, is in love with you. You are “the beloved”.

You recoil at the thought! “God … GOD … is in love with … me?! How can that be? I am sinful.” Yes, that is true. “I am unworthy!” Yes, that also is true. But you are also the imago Dei, you were created in His own image — and so deeply within yourself you possess the inimitable beauty — and lovableness ---of God Himself.

But the image has been marred by sin, the mirror reflecting God (the imago) has been bent, abused, distorted … by the world which has had its way with you. It is so battered, so covered in the opacity of sin, that you no longer see Him clearly when you look deeply within yourself. Instead of God, in Whose beautiful and unmarred image you have been created, you see what the world, what sin, has done to you, and you turn away in shame.

This is not what God wanted for you. In fact, He now comes to you as Christ came to Veronica on His sorrowful Way to the Cross: you see the battered image of God, scourged by the world, and in a silent pleading He looks upon you, asking you without so much as a word, to place the fabric of your life to His bruised and disfigured face — and when you clean it of the abuse of the world, it is beautiful to behold — and what is more, the fabric of your being now bears the image of God once more upon it.

Know this first, Little Sparrow: you are now being asked to respond to God Who first set His love upon you. It is the reason for all your questions and all your confusion. And until you respond to it in fullness, He will sue you, seek you, all the days of your life. Why? Because he loves you. Can He do otherwise with whom He loves?

I will answer your questions, Little One — but not as the world would have me answer, for the world is equivocal and wishes to keep what it renounces, it wishes to reconcile sin with sanctity, to keep, in a word, both what God wants and what the world wants. And the two are opposed. Prior to his real conversion, and while yet striving with the flesh and its desires, Saint Augustine famously uttered: “O, God … make me chaste! … but not yet.” This is the way of the world, the way of sorrow from which God called St. Augustine through the unceasing prayers of his mother, Saint Monica.

You are ambivalent in your feelings toward your boyfriend — and for good reason. You have sought to satisfy his desires, largely in sexual terms. But I do not see him attempting to satisfy your desires: specifically your desire to be chaste. This is understandable: he cannot have both — so he himself chooses one: his own desires — not yours. That is not love. Love does not seek itself. It seeks the beloved, and the good of the beloved in all things. This is what it means to love. Did he really love you, he would seek the desire of your heart: to be chaste; and not the desire of his sexual satisfaction. He would be willing, even eager, to do what makes you happy — as you have been too eager to do what makes him happy at the expense of your own unhappiness. Yes, I understand that sexual desire is often mutual, even if it is against ones will. This is to be human. And so you have fallen into sin, much to your unhappiness. But do not despair, Little One. Despair is one of the Seven Deadly Sins.

You have gone to Holy Confession with sincere sorrow in your heart and a firm purpose of amendment. How beautiful this is. You had received Actual Grace and forgiveness. “BUT”, you say, “I went out and did the same thing again! — and went to Confession again — and still sinned again!” O, Little One, there are none among us who have not — even among the greatest Saints. However many times you fall, get up, daughter of the Most High God! Get up and return to Him through the Sacrament of Confession. Again and again and again until you sin this way no more. God will give you the grace you need to succeed. You must pray for it and work very hard toward it. Sanctity always comes at great cost — especially to what is weak and human within us. But its beauty exceeds all others! You become like unto your true Lover Who is God, and Who is sanctity itself.

The salvation of your boyfriend’s soul cannot be purchased through sin, Little One. No matter how tender your heart, you cannot bring your boyfriend to God through sin. It is not possible, for God is holy. You cannot choose a sinful act in an attempt to arrive at what is holy — either for yourself or for another. Nor are you being merciful to your boyfriend by acquiescing to his sinful desires: to the contrary, Little One (who are so precious to God!) you are cooperating with him in sin which is evil — and which leads him away from God. It that real mercy, my child? To lead another still further away from God Who is his greatest good, though he may recognize it not?

Understand this well, Little Sparrow, for I speak from the heart of the Church: Your primary obligation is to save your own soul first! How can you presume to save another soul when you give no thought or effort to saving your own? You cannot. Or can you save another soul at the expense of your own? You will lose both. Please understand this. It is not being selfish! It is our first and foremost obligation! To save our own souls. Did not Christ tell us that we do not do well when we seek to take the splinter out of our brother’s eye — while we ourselves still have a splinter in our own? We must look to our own conduct, our own sanctification, our own salvation first — before we can begin to set about assisting another in saving their own.

I apologize that this letter has been overlong, my Little Sparrow. I sense your pain and confusion and would that your heart be at peace. Remember the words of Our Blessed Lord to Mary Magdalene who had sinned much, and became His most faithful follower: “Your sins are forgiven. Go and sin no more.”

Let us do likewise

God keep you.

In the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Joseph Mary del Campos
Boston Catholic Journal

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