Friday, January 31, 2014
Thursday, January 30, 2014
"I'm a phony and a fake."
A holy man used to say those words, the late Father William O'Leary, a Jesuit at Creighton Prep who sometimes celebrated Masses at St. Columbkille.
When Father O'Leary talked that way, I was taken back, because clearly he was a good Christian. He gave away what few possessions he had, constantly made himself available to serve others and maintained a life of prayer and sacrifice.
A phony and a fake?
I thought maybe that was his awkward way to deflect his growing reputation for holiness. But to say he was a phony, a fake, a hypocrite, seemed so over the top, maybe even a lie. I've had the same feeling when I read the writings of some saints, when they go on and on about how wretched and unworthy they are. I would read their works, knowing that the Church later canonized them as saints, and think, "Really, how could think of yourself that way?"
But I was completely wrong. That's no false sense of humility. In fact, the saints had humility in the truest sense, knowing how completely unworthy they were of God's calling and recognizing Him alone as their source of holiness. They were, and we are, pretty wretched on our own. And it's proper to give credit where credit is due: all our good works, our love for one another, comes from God.
They couldn't help that others saw their holiness. After all, you can't hide a lantern under a bushel basket. Christ's presence, His holiness, glows in His saints. It's meant to be noticed, that all would give glory to God.
Sometimes I say to myself quiet accurately, "I'm a phony and a fake." I try to witness to how God is working in my life, but I know my faults and failures, and so do others. I can't help but feel like a hypocrite.
When we try to be Jesus' disciples, we make ourselves vulnerable that way. Others will see the sinner in us, but hopefully they will see something of God.
In a way, we're all phonies and fakes. But God's light can be seen most clearly when it shines through the darkness of sin.
Inspired by the Year of Faith, Susan Szalewski began writing weekly columns for us. Although that year is over, we liked them so well that we asked her to keep writing. Thankfully, she said yes. So watch for these on Thursdays and see the Year of Faith Blog here.
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Then we have the Mr. Nardinis,
the Miss Sengers,
the Mrs. Yanoviches,
and the priests.
(Yes, that's a real parrot.)