WAKE UP FROM YOUR SLUMBER

Kierkegaard, the Danish Philosopher, argues that Christianity as we know it today barely relates itself to the message that Jesus preached in the New Testament. Christians are not striving to come closer to the Christianity of the New Testament, he further maintains. I am no Christian apologetic, but I find it necessary to analyze the veracity of Kierkegaard’s claim.

imagesHe maintains that Luther had written 95 theses to show Christianity’s wretchedness, but today only one is necessary— honestly. When we juxtapose the way we are living the Christian life with the one preached in the New Testament, they almost have nothing in common. Official Christianity does not even dare to make clear the requirement of Jesus’ teachings in the new testament because that would bring to light how far removed the two are. We, Christians, live and love in the ordinary human way and so fail to live the extraordinary life that Christianity requires of us. Diognetus had written a letter to Christian in the third century. in it, he remarked that although are similar to other men by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, they are distinct by the way they lived. This is no longer true unfortunately. and the consequent is dire.

To illustrate his point, he gives an example. A Christian teacher is paid several thousand dollars as his wages. If we suppress the Christian criterion and assume the ordinary ‘human criterion’, which encourages that a person should have his wages for his work in order to live a respectable life with his family and maintain a perfect life’s standard, then that’s great. However, as soon as the idea of Christian poverty is asserted, several thousand is too high a salary. Christianity requires that when our most basic needs are met, the rest be given to the poor. One can live best the Christian requirement only in poverty (of spirit). It is dishonesty to call ourselves Christian when we so miserably fail to live the Christian requirement. We are dishonest about doing what Jesus requires. We give them our own interpretation according to our own expediency; nevertheless, the way we live is so far removed from the Sermon on the Mount’s requirements. “I will not participate… in what is called Christianity”, Kierkegaard says. even Pope Francis shockingly said that, “God would not be Christian if he comes back today”— loosely interpreted, christianity has become too pharisaical. We need to go back to the the beginning seriously. iStock_000031437424_Double

Now how right is Kierkegaard? I believe that the Christian life cannot be reduced to a few critiques. They are people who genuinely try to abide by the teaching of Jesus. Christianity However, it would make Christianity and Christians much more respectable in the world if we actually take very seriously Kierkegaard’s critic. Have you seen how lovable and respectable those who take the Christian faith very seriously are? Not only people respect their sacrifice, they are also attracted to their joy and peace. Religious freedom is being challenged everywhere in the world; perhaps if we take Christianity as Kierkegaard advocated it, no one would dare challenge it since our service would be in so much demands. I must admit as a group, we don’t stand out. We are just like everyone else. There is no way to differentiate Christians and the crowd. We go to their theaters, we watch whatever they want us to watch, we learn what they teach us, and we follow their rules even if they violate our conscience. How do you think the early Christians were able to conquer the world and spread the Word so quickly? It was because they accepted to set a standard tailored after the heart of Jesus— a standard that the ordinary world despised. Of course, that caused them to be imprisoned, mistreated, guillotined and killed, but it also put the world on the path to salvation. Due to our radical examples, the world fell to its knees and asked us for help. Our standards gave meaning to life, put life in right order, and helped put life in perspective.

early-massToday, that standard is lost because we’ve gotten too comfortable over the years. the world has re-conquered the low standard in which it was living before Christianity blossomed. They are winning big time and the powerful force that is Christianity is sleeping. Until we wake up, Kierkegaard’s voice will keep on echoing on our cathedrals, churches, chapels, seminaries, schools, and workplaces. Until then, his voice will continue to resound in our deepest conscience that this Christianity is too far removed from the one preached in the Bible.

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Spiritual Direction– The Soul’s Remedy

Seeking spiritual direction is a sign of spiritual maturity. It is a sign that one has passed the age of spiritual milk, and ready for solid food (1 Cor. 3:2). Anyone who wants to live their baptism responsibly should make spiritual direction an intrinsic part of their lives. It is the soul’s medicine, and the best way to grow in holiness.

Here are a few reasons to consider spiritual direction:

We need a coach for the race. We are familiar with Olympic champions. They take reaching the top so seriously that they would never consider attempting it without a coach. St. John Paul II related how Jan Tyranowski, a simple clerk and tailor, helped him developed his interior life and thus gave him the tools to find his purpose in life. when he became a University chaplain, John Paul II recalled  how he used to go camping with the students. Through what he learned from Jan, he was able to coach them to unleash the masterpiece they are and how best to comport themselves as a result. we can become the person God wants us to be on our own.

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Anyone who is serious about holiness can relate to the words of St. Augustine in The Confessions: “I longed for the chance to devote myself wholly to you, but …my two wills are in conflict and they rob my soul of all concentration” (VIII, 5:10). This pilgrim journey is a tale of twisting and turning down the road to heaven. We lose momentum at times and need help nudging toward our destiny. Our best help lies in getting someone who knows the way well. As we labor in pain waiting for the fulfillment of our hope and the glorious coming of our savior (Rom. 8:22-23), the best way to ensure we are making progress is to have a spiritual guide to keep us fit.

We all have blind spots. We all have biases. Anyone who has tried to be truly honest with him- or herself knows how difficult that is. None of us sees ourselves as we truly are. Most often we think we are better than we actually are, although sometimes we sell ourselves short. There are times we even lie to ourselves. How do we discover ourselves as we truly are? Sunday homilies are helpful, but clearly insufficient when it comes to specifics. The confessional is not the place to deal with topics that takes great amount of time. Friends are often afraid to offend us. Spiritual directors can put the mirror before us and enable us to face reality. Seeing ourselves as we truly are opens the door to real spiritual growth.

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We are all wounded. GK. Chesterton captures well the reality of our lives in this world this way: “we’re all in one boat, and we’re all seasick.” The reality is we are all cracked and bruised and in need of repair. There are things in our past that hurt so deeply, we don’t even want to talk about them yet those are precisely what we need to talk about. Some things, of which we might not be aware, restrain our interior peace. Unless we allow the soothing touch of Christ to reach into our brokenness, we remain wounded. Only through regular spiritual direction can we recognize these wounds and be to heal.

How do we locate a good spiritual director? The same way we locate a good physician – we ask others. You can start by asking your pastor for recommendations. Pray to the Holy Spirit to lead you to one that fits your needs. Religious houses like seminaries, convents, or priories usually have qualified directors. Try to get a trained spiritual director, if possible. A learned, experienced, and holy priest is the ideal director. Even the saints have complained how difficult it is to find a suitable one, so persevere! In the meantime, get someone.