Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Praying for Integrity

As human beings one of the great pleasures of life is being a material being.  Our senses are wonderful and extremely pleasurable.  Our hearts leap at the sight of a beautiful sunrise or sunset.  Our memories of love and joy coming flooding back with a familiar smell or song.  There is no greater pleasure than the touch of another human being be it the touch of a lover, the kissing of a baby's tiny head, or the holding of a hand as the life slowly ebbs from someone we love.  God has given us a great gift in the material world and our senses.

However, this great gift can also become a curse, our downfall, if we are not careful.  When we become so enamored with the creation around us to the point of forgetting the Creator, we have a problem.  This is where addictions come from.  This is lust, gluttony, avarice, and a host of other sins.  When you and I live for creation, and not for the Creator, our world is turned upside down.  We must often remind ourselves that there is something deeper than what we are seeing and experiencing.  We need to struggle to find balance with the world, the visible and invisible.

In today's Gospel Jesus reminds us that outward appearances are not the most important thing in our lives.  It is what lies in the heart that must be the primary focus of our attention not the external signs or trappings.  Using a dish as an illustration, he shows that cleaning the inside is just as important as cleaning the outside.  Perhaps, it's more important!  I'd much rather eat from a dish that is clean on the inside and dirty on the outside than vice versa.

St. Paul echoes this message in the 1st reading.  Those to whom he was writing were getting caught up in outward signs and appearances.  They were focusing on circumcision of the body when it is really circumcision of the heart that is important.

So today I pray for the grace to be just as conscientious about the state of my soul as I am about the state of my appearance.  I pray for the grace to be just as diligent about getting to Confession as I am about shaving and showering.  I pray for the grace to not only wear a Crucifix but to be a living image of the One it represents (at home, at work, on the road, etc.).  I pray for the grace to have my words and my actions not contradict each other.  I pray for the grace and the gift of integrity.

Going Deeper

The best way to make sure that the inside is just as clean as the outside is the Sacrament of Confession.  Here are some of the best books I've found on this wonderful but underutilized Sacrament.



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