Light and Darkness in Us
There is something puzzling in religion, particularly when it is practiced regularly. Many noticed this, literally, painful paradox. When we catch ourselves in this situation, we feel confused. What I am talking about is the ‘split’, or what we experience as a split, between our ‘Christian self’, and our downfalls. When, in the very next moments to what is our ‘better self’ -attentive to and yearning for God, thinking as one should according to the Gospel -we fall. This is the situation which is often judged by the outside: ‘he/she drinks wine but preaches water.’ This moment of underachievingis what disturbs me. Is it because I am that bad, and what is not good in me, is unmasked in terms of an inevitable fall? Is the falling Christian person indeed that shallow, even a ‘liar’? Our environment, when this shadow-side of our surfaces, rightly judges that moment. The pain we feel is double. We have fallen, yes, and on top of that we feel shame because we are seen as one with our manifest fall. The complexity of that shame could be examined in length. Is it a genuine remorse what we feel? Or is it a narcissistic shame, that we don’t want to be seen negatively? Being crucified for good for that one, totalized mistake.
Or, despite the objective wrong, what we did, there is another way of seeing our mistakes? I would like to believe that there is room for a more positive reflection. While it is true that religious repetitive practices and rituals are inevitably building up in us ‘our religious superego’. And true, that superego (our ego-ideal) can, and inevitably fails. As we never coincide with our ideal (or desired) self. If we think that we do, that vision will necessarily and spectacularly fail.
So how can we see our failures in a different light? Practicing Christians inevitably intake a ‘regular dose of light’, as it were. Which light, as mentioned above, can be a building block of both a rigid (unchallenged, merciless) superego and a humbler, though failing, reflective self. The point I am trying to outline is that the failing Christian should not be disheartened. Divine Mercy -grace, Jesus’ teaching, and love -enters into our heart for a different purpose. The regular intake of this light inevitably will bring to surface our ‘shadows’. It touches, provokes, disturbes that whole web of negativity, sin, wrong thinking, bad motivations, mistrust, even hatred which is part of our fabric.
Regular prayer and communion aim at precisely this regular disturbance. Our ‘failures’, of course, are in the possible starkest contrast with the Light. Yet, grace wants to constantly remind us that there is a living volcano of ‘non-love’ seething in us. We need to be aware of it, and grace will surely make it know, however painful this encounter is.
I do think that without this encounter with grace, one also would fail. Most probably that failure would be less painful, if not unnoticed. So, there is no point of gloating over Christians’ failure and pointing fingers to. We should keep ‘taking the light’, the Holy Communion and the Word of God. The Light will do its wok in us. Hopefully disperging and removing the thickest core of darkness in us. What we can benefit of it most is learning mercy towards those who fail, even cause harm, or sin against, us.
There is never a perfect answer to mystery of the chaos and the life of darkness in us. This ‘split’ in us always requires a Loving Messiah.
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..