Rousing Her Radiance: Day 10
Conquering Ourselves for Her
‘We are deceived to think that it is possible to become a human being without conquering oneself, without the patience of renunciation and the task of overcoming oneself…’- Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Loving the Bride means denying ourselves. That’s because She (we) isn’t yet ready for Her Bridegroom. Inevitably, we step into Her messiness, Her unnecessary walls, Her sinkholes. Our mess.
Jesus never ceases to save us from Her bad behavior. But we must seek Him for that. And release Her quickly for mishandling us.
We are Her. Sensitive citizens of a therapeutic nation, we are quick to name our church wounds yet are often slow to recognize how we wound others in our ‘recovery.’ It helps to own our two-edged impact, at once victim and perpetrator. In our conflict, we can afflict others. Insensitivity to the subtle ways we vilify Her and vindicate ourselves can make us as dangerous as the ‘bad’ church that bit us.
Clarity and responsibility help. We must do more than ‘feel’ and amplify our hurts on social media or before whatever kangaroo courts we’ve assembled. We can all stop dramatizing and misusing the term ‘abuse.’ We can own and open the wound to Jesus and a trustworthy few for cleansing. We can set boundaries with ‘wounders.’ We can use our therapeutic skills. Instead of just talking ‘forgiveness,’ we can forgive.
Then let’s get on with loving the Bride with all our heart, mind, and soul. We can’t afford to be at odds with the one Jesus loves most. We are Her. To defensively detach from Her is to fracture ourselves and eventually to digress to a state of non-being.
A couple things help me not to act badly when she does: instead of agreeing with the enemy that She is hopeless, I act decisively on Her behalf. At this point I’ve too long a resume of weird church stuff to just ‘feel’ and not act. In semi-depressive seasons, I rouse myself and go to Mass (or Sunday service or Bible study or home group or whatever). My decision to make the Church better today supersedes emotions. My feelings get straightened out by acting like I love Her.
I follow St. Paul’s example of placing his church wounds squarely in the wounds of Jesus. When the churches he served treated him poorly, Paul went straight to the Source—Christ Crucified—where he died to himself. United also with Christ Resurrected, Paul welcomed Jesus’ compassion for his wounded self. Then He let Jesus overflow from him with consolation for, say, the arrogant Corinthians who accused the apostle of being a loser. Paul’s wound was superseded by Jesus’ healing power for and through him (2 Cor. 1). What a guy. What a guide.
Bridal bites become a blessing to many when wholly surrendered to Jesus.
‘Help us to overcome mere victimization. Use every wound we receive from heavy-handed or neglectful church folk to draw us closer to You, Jesus. Help us to forego undue identification with our wounds and live as seasoned lovers of the one You love most.’
‘Father, we thank You for Jesus who established the Church on a Rock against which hell will not prevail (Matt 16:18). We pray for every Christian leader to build on Her firm foundation of sexual clarity and integrity. Father, unmask the deceiver and divider of Christians and unite us in one Spirit. As weak members of Christ, we ask for truth to guide our pursuit of sexual wholeness, for grace to sustain it, and for spiritual power to transform us. May we reflect the chaste radiance of Jesus (2 Cor. 3:18) as we “shine like stars in the universe, holding out the word of life” (Phil. 2:15-16) to a lost and hurting world.’