Awhile back, I read two blog posts that speak of the idea of perfection. One spoke about perfection in the Faith, the other about perfection in motherhood.
Two weeks ago, I was a participant in a conversation that loosely was about faith, religion, and Christians. Mainly the conversation was about, "How come these people go to church on Sunday but are awful people the rest of the week and do awful things?" (Awful loosely defined as chain smoking around kids, swearing, drinking, generally acting like a douche.)
Today I read a snippet from Terry at Abbey-Roads about the resignation of Cardinal O'Brien, quoting Fr. Blake saying: "These are
priests and bishops in a very grave state of sin, who seem to count it as
nothing. These are men who are content to live in the sewer whilst ascending to
the altar of God. There is not just the sin they are involved in, it is also the
hypocrisy, the lies, the deceit, everything that runs contrary to the integrity
of the Gospel, the betrayal of brother priests of laity, all contribute to the
undermining of faith of "the little ones", "better millstone be tied around his
I've been thinking a lot about this lately, mainly because as a mother and as a Christian, I have lately been feeling the pain of my sins weighing me down. While on one hand, I think I should give myself a break as a mother and a Christian, and not to expect too much from myself, not to get too impatient with myself; I also think that I am setting the bar rather low in terms of striving for perfection as a mother and as a Christian.
It's a fine balance, no? How do I keep striving for perfection in my faith and in my vocation, without setting unrealistic expectations that keep me discouraged? I want to be a good example for my children, for my family, and for perfect strangers, on what it means to be a Christian, on how it has changed my life. But too often, I find myself passing the buck and lowering my expectations with the caveat that "Nobody is perfect" or "No one can get it right all the time" or "Everyone falls down and makes mistakes". All those are well and good, but we're living in a time now where my example as a Christian - whether good or bad - is of utmost importance to the world around me. What I choose to portray in my behavior is a portrayal of Christianity to some people. If I fail in that, that is a hefty weight upon my shoulders. I think we are seeing the fruits of "passing the buck" attitude in our clergy and in our church. People think, "Oh well, I'm doing all I can, within my limits." Well, aren't we called to reach outside our limits?
"We become apostles and witnesses of his Good News as we hear it and are changed by it." This sentence was in a book that one of my study groups is discussing. A friend put it this way: "I am only as good a witness to the Gospel as I allow myself to be changed by it." If I don't truly hear the Gospel within my heart, if I don't take it in and be converted by the scandalous words it contains, how can I truly hope to be a witness of the Faith to other people?
So yes, my behavior needs to change. I must constantly be in a process of conversion, and hearing the Gospel anew, in order to change my behavior, my attitude. Last week, during lectio divina on yesterday's Gospel reading, the phrase that was brought to my attention was "They fell silent." I know that I need to work on shutting up my interior monologue and dialogue with others, and just listening to God. Perhaps in this way, I can start to make sure I hear the Word and be changed by it.