|The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XXIII: ”Four Things Which Bring Great Peace” (second entry)
In Kempis’s disciple’s prayer for enlightenment, he realizes that it is only with the Lord’s help that he can overcome his fallen nature; only divine intervention in the form of grace can calm the “winds and storms” of temptation as Jesus calmed the raging sea in his boat trip with the apostles (see Mk 4:35-41) so that some of the light of Truth can enlighten and penetrate his troubled mind.
|Today’s first reading: Is 1:10-17
Isaiah, writing in the latter half of the seventh century before Christ, warns of trouble for Jerusalem (the likening of it to Sodom and Gomorrah should have made his listeners’ blood run cold considering the grievous wickedness of those cities and the end to which they were fated [see Gen 19:1-29]). The faithlessness and immorality of the people, despite outward signs of piety, is very displeasing to God, whom they claim to serve. Sacrifices and rituals are of no value if their internal dispositions run counter to the Lord. Evil must turn to good, injustice to justice.
In Isaish’s lifetime, the Temple of Solomon still stood (it would not be destroyed until 587 B.C.). The people were defiling it due to the fact that they came to worship but did not have love of God or neighbor in their hearts. Kempis, in turn, speaks to Christ of “Your holy temple,” that is our own consciences, that we individually defile. Conscience is a gift from God. We have a responsibility to form our own and others’ consciences according to the truths of the Catholic Faith safeguarded by the Church.
So-called “Catholic guilt” gets a lot of undeserved acrimony, almost exclusively from fallen-away or ex-Catholics, but it is a safeguard that our Maker has “installed” to keep us on the straight and narrow or at least compel us to return to the path to life. Temptation comes; sometimes we fall. The Lord’s message to us is the same one He proclaimed to the Judeans through Isaiah: “cease doing evil; learn to do good.” We are not alone in this effort, thank God, because we know we can’t do it alone — ask any honest sinner. The Divine Mercy is always ready to be poured out on those who seek it with a sincere and open heart.