"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Sacrifice, and spilling out

I question how much of my life, at least as I've lived it so far, has had to do with what God had in mind in giving me life. For reasons it would be imprudent to broadcast online, I sometimes pray in something like the following way: "Lord, I don't see the point of my life. Much of it seems to have been spilled out to rather little purpose or to no good purpose at all. I have not loved well those whom you have given me to love; I have not used my talents nearly as well as I should or even could; indeed I can't think of any good I've done that others, even within my own circle of care, haven't done a lot better or more reliably. In my present circumstances, I don't see that changing. But since I know by the gift of faith that you are infinitely wiser and more loving than I, I shall take your word for it that my life can change from being spilled out to being a sweet offering to you. I take your word for it that my life will thus change if I cooperate with your grace and providence. Please show me the way and strengthen me to follow it."

I found that worth blogging because of this I just came across from Crimson Catholic. Here are the last three paragraphs:

[snip] we have been given one gift in particular that exemplifies sacrificial self-giving and participation in divine work even at the natural level. That gift is the gift of human sexuality. Even though our rational activity is in the image of God and all sins against nature debase our rationality and lower us to the levels of beasts (2 Pet. 2:12), no particular human act is so intrinsically suited to God's use than the one that makes us coworkers in the special work of divine, creative love (viz., the special creation of the human being, body and soul). It is precisely because the generative power is the most purely sacrificial act that the misuse of this gift is one of the gravest offenses against God. Sexual sins are acts of anti-sacrifice, taking what is by nature ordered to cooperation with God and seizing it for one's selfish use.

Those who dismiss the tradition of Christianity to condemn sexual sins as being based on crude biology completely miss the connection Jesus draws between mercy and offering to God. It isn't a question of human life actually residing in the seed, as if spermicide were homicide, but in recognizing the nature of sexuality as an offering to God and its importance in His creative work. Even if one were to dismiss the numerous explicit references to the gravity of these sins made by the Apostle Paul, it would miss the forest for the trees to think that Jesus didn't address them. To say, for example, that "Jesus never said anything about homosexuality" is to miss the necessary implications of His teaching about charity and sacrifice, His explanation of marriage, and His condemnation of adultery. It is not without cause that the Jewish tradition condemned "wasting the seed." Just as in the case of wasting time, the sense is having this power given to us for a specific purpose that can be squandered, a lesson writ in the very nature of finite being.

I have had cause to think of this perhaps most seriously since I recently completed my thirty-third year. At this point, Jesus had nearly poured out His entire mortal life. And as my wife pointed out to me, "doesn't it make you feel bad when you think about how much Jesus had done by this age?" Indeed, it does, and it should. Most of my life has been spilled out to no purpose, as I am sure many people have experienced. But I find some comfort in the teaching of St. Augustine that God can save even this, so that even what we have wasted can yet be turned to our good and redeemed in the man who perceives God's purpose and ordo for creation. And I have hope in this: that even though we are built to die, Christ has made death the door to the Holy of Holies, the path to God.

Amen, brother.

Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on us.
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