In a civilization which has lost the meaning of life, the most useful thing a Christian can do is to live—and life, understood from the point of view of faith, has an extraordinary explosive force. We are not aware of it, because we only believe in “efficiency,” and life is not efficient. But this life alone can break the illusions of the modern world by showing everyone the utter powerlessness of a mechanistic view.
It has been said that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Jana Riess’ new book Flunking Sainthood is an encouraging word to those of us who have approached traditional spiritual disciplines with good intentions, only to end up frustrated by failure.
We believe what we do not completely understand or feel. Because of this, we are tempted to establish more “certain” criteria to evaluate our spiritual state. Through a preoccupation with legalism, mysticism, or ascetism, we lose focus on Christ… and become proud, self-centered, and exclusive.
All the ordinary places and events of our lives hold the potential to become houses of God, gateways of heaven. Every moment holds the possibility of revealing the hidden God in our midst. The reason knowing God does not consist of an endless stream of ecstatic and extraordinary experiences is because God wants us to learn to see him in the ordinary!
According to the Christian tradition, the greatest sin is that of spiritual pride. Spiritual pride mimics righteousness but its fruit is evil – hatred, intolerance, and division – and leads us to look down on others and hold them in contempt. We must be ever mindful of the danger of spiritual pride, especially in the midst of our greatest spiritual advances.