My friend Meg’s salutation on the update of her life I requested since we last spoke keeps ringing in my head: “Be safe and be holy.” That phrase, “Be safe,” has become endemic since the arrival of the corona virus and, to me, connotes the obsessive cleaning, masking and endless governmental mandates of the last three years.
Because I was mired in all the “c” stuff of her “be safe” phrase, her conjunction of safety with holiness didn’t make sense at first. Hence I replied to her FB message update this way: “The gap between safety and holiness seems very wide, maybe we must choose be safe or be holy?”
But then I thought of who Meg is. Throughout the many changes in her life, some difficult, painful and not of her choosing, I know her as implacably Christocentric. Without question, all things, events and people revolve about Christ, He is her anchor. And so I decided that Meg meant exactly what she said.
Because her phrase is so evocative, I put the piece I’d intended for today on hold for next week.
“Be safe and be holy,” my friend prays, because she knows that holiness is the only path to safety. All others are, at best, illusory, at worst, deception from the trickster, Satan. A recent Pauline reading in the Divine Office reminds us that we live in “later times— in the age of “plausible liars” [the St. Paul inspired title of my new novel:]
“The Spirit distinctly says that in later times some will turn away from the faith and will heed deceitful spirits and things taught by demons through plausible liars—men with seared consciences who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by believers who know the truth.”
Everywhere we turn are the effects of people with seared consciences turning away from the faith to implement demonically inspired programs and policies. We’ve not yet reached the “requiring abstinence from foods God created to be received with thanksgiving.” But it may be close. A top “influencer/controller” of our culture has been opposed to the eating of meat for a very long time.
Regardless, “Be safe and be holy” is axiomatic for Christians universally.
I’m guessing your brain landed in the same place as mine: “I’m not holy!”
Or, “I’m weak, filled with doubts and flaws. How do I go about being holy?”
And then there’s, “There was only one holy person, Mary, the mother of God.”
As I think about personal holiness and look around at our world, the people in it—including, maybe especially, our politicians, I know: There’s only one answer: we’ve no other option. We’ve got to beg for the grace to become saints.
I know. Believe me I know all the reasons that this sounds audacious, presumptuous and downright terrifying. In the past, I’ve heard from far holier souls than mine, “I’m hoping I can just make it into Purgatory.” Or very holy women sharing powerful experiences in prayer and then diluting them with, “But I know I’m no saint!”
But here’s the thing. Actually, several things.
but the actions of some of us are so crazed that a repeat is warranted. This time in even more detail, thanks to Dr. Brad Pitre. We’re speaking here of St. Paul’s exhortations to young Timothy about how Christians are to pray. Here’s that passage again:
“First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.”
Immersing us in the culture of the first century, Dr. Pitre observes that Nero, Calligua, and their cohorts-“These were not nice people!”
And yet Paul is teaching Timothy not only to intercede for them in prayer but to give thanks for them. And just as importantly, to live respectfully in their pagan culture.
Because God desires that all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. We are to intercede for all—believers and non, for that’s what Christians are to do.
We know, don’t we, that He can work through us only if we’re persitent in climbing the ladder of perfection.
Right, perfection. “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
Undeterred by our flaws, failures and weaknesses. Confident that despite our wretchedness, we expect everything promised to us by Jesus. He came to save the sick, each and every one of us.
We have our marching orders, we soldiers of Christ.
A dear friend, now gone, introduced me to this magnificent interpretation.
You’ve gone deep below the surface and pulled out the reality! How beautiful and talented you are my friend. I pray for you and John, as you rally us on with your words.
Nope. It’s you, my good friend. You amd Him. Because of your words, I’ve heard from people I never hear from! Thank you for writing I hoped you’d like what He inspired!
Love and prayers to you and yours-