[The title for this post comes from a review on Tom Ford's new film, Nocturnal Animals. This post has nothing to do with the film beyond that.]
The choices we make ...
The choices that define us - that made so much sense to me today. I considered it in the light of Psalm 36.
The sinner has set his foot on evil ways,
he clings to what is evil.
If we chose evil ways, and then repent, can it be we continue to cling to what is evil? Unconsciously, perhaps? Perhaps like a stain or even a scar that remains? Can we cling to choices that once defined us - or what we mistook or even accepted as our identity? Even though we repent and renounced our former way of life, can we still cling to aspects of that life which defined us? Just a thought.
To be sure, we have an immense capacity for self-delusion - live long enough, and one will come to know that, if one is honest: as Sting would describe it: When you're down and they're counting - When your secrets all found out...
People do not accept Christ's invitation to come to him when they are too self-assured and display the "pretentiousness of understanding reality perfectly well and the presumption of already having come to a definite judgment about things, which makes their hearts closed and insensitive to the novelty of God. [...] The capacity to be surprised, to be a child at heart, is missing." - Benedict XVI
"The capacity to be surprised..." Sounds like something Pope Francis would say, huh?
My thoughts have seemingly swept over my past life these last few years, and I have discovered so much - I wish I could articulate it. I thought of this while pondering Today's First Reading from 1 Corinthians, when Paul states: "I do not even pass judgment upon myself; I am not conscious of anything against me, but I do not stand acquitted; the one who judges me is the Lord." [...] the Lord "will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts ..."
This thought is echoed elsewhere in scripture - "Do not judge" and "Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?" We give into presumption when we do that. By the grace of God, perhaps through some humiliation, or some trial or fall, we might discover a hidden advantage of seeing the mote in our brother's eye, in so far as we just might be aware enough to realize the log in our own eye - mirrored in our neighbor's faults.
From my hidden faults acquit me O Lord ...
The Psalms tell the story - which is why they are so helpful for us to pray - not just recite. It is also why self-knowledge is so important for us at every stage of our life - it is a necessary part of our 'purgation' or purification.
Sin speaks to the sinner
in the depths of his heart
There is no fear of God
before his eyes.
He so flatters himself in his mind
that he knows not his guilt. - Ps. 36
"Sin speaks to the sinner in the depths of his heart ... he so flatters himself in his mind that he knows not his guilt." Like I said, we have an immense capacity for self delusion. Which is why it is so advantageous for us to allow ourselves to be taught, to be corrected, even to be despised.
It's important to remember that the Lord accompanies us in and through these meditations in the deepest recesses of the cell of self-knowledge, as St. Catherine might say. He was there when we knew not our sins and he is there when we uncover them, as it were. We need to understand this so as not to get discouraged, even though we can say:
My sins so overcome me,
so that I can no longer see.
They are more numerous than the hairs of my head;
my courage fails me. - Ps. 40
We need to trust in the Divine Mercy, as we struggle to 'lay aside every encumbrance of sin which clings to us'. Confidence and love.
O Eternal Word, Word of my God, I want to spend my life in listening to You, to become wholly teachable that I may learn all from You. Then, through all nights, all voids, all helplessness, I want to gaze on You always and remain in Your great light. O my beloved Star, so fascinate me that I may not withdraw from Your radiance. - Prayer of Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity