“How did we get here?” is a question I have heard often in the weeks since Donald Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States. “What do we do now?” is the next question. The two quotes that follow give perspective to both questions. Of course, these authors were not speaking directly to the 2016 election results, but they do speak directly to our soul-searching and anxiety.
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“Aquinas had no illusions about the terrifying human capacity for sin. He wrote about the lethal power of sin, that “turning away from our last end which is God.” He came to see love as having the kind of awesome power we see in nuclear fusion. Well-ordered and directed to the right ends, love can transform lives, inseparably unite people with one another and God, and act as the harmonious and creative power which holds all creation in being.
But misdirected – allowed to turn in on itself, allowed to run wildly on the heels of any and every desire of our misguided hearts – love can become a horrifyingly destructive force, tearing apart the world from under our feet. Love, rightly ordered, will be the foundation of the kingdom of God. But grotesquely disordered love, inordinate self-love which swirls in on itself like a fierce tornado, has the capacity to shape tragedies like Auschwitz or the Rwandan genocide. Sin – love disordered – is horrific. But holiness–love rightly ordered – is life in all its abundance” (Chris Webb in “We are Created to Love,” published in the Renovare Weekly Digest for November 11, 2016).
“The value of spiritual disciplines grows out of the ordinary, uncomplicated fact that our minds and bodies have been deeply, regularly influenced by all kinds of errors, illusions, fanaticisms, and enticements that are antithetical to the values of Christ’s kingdom. We, like our brothers and sisters throughout Christian history, are prone to distraction from Christ’s call, drawn to the allurements of sin as surely as iron filings are drawn to a magnet. We often find ourselves responsive to the pull of spiritual and natural forces over which we appear to have little control.
If we are not vigilant – a favorite word of ancient believers when it comes to dealing with temptation and sin – a radical disjunction can occur between our theoretical beliefs and our concrete behaviors. We slip into a kind of spiritual schizophrenia, affirming key ideas and practices one minute and then violating them the next, advocating the truthfulness of one reality but habitually living in another” (By Chris Hall in “Concrete Means of Grace” published in the Renovare Weekly Digest for November 16, 2016).
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“Love disordered” and “vigilance.” These men of faith have shown us why we are in a quagmire individually and as a human race. They have shown us a way to dig ourselves out of our personal quagmires and live as bright lights in the darkness, as individuals and as a Church. ” Do we have the will to do so?