Monday, 21 March 2011

Unity in the soul

I said the key to the religious quest is unity, which is how we become fully real, and that this unification can only be brought about by love.

That makes sense of the idea of sin - viewed not as the breaking of some arbitrary rule, but as an obstacle to our own spiritual progress. The modern world doesn’t like to talk of sin, but it still views hypocrisy as a great evil, and seems to admire integrity. Sin is that which divides us. It is that which divides us from ourselves, from God, and from each other.

Charles Williams defined sin as “the preference of an immediately satisfying experience of things to the believed pattern of the universe”. For example, each time I do something in private that is inconsistent with what I profess to be and believe in public, or which would make others think less of me if it were discovered, I am dividing myself, and therefore committing a sin.

The root of sin is a conflict of desires, since it is desire that leads me to act inconsistently. But this conflict only exists at the level where we have many desires. In the end, at the deepest level, we desire only one thing, and that is union with the Infinite, with God. Human desires are insatiable, because we are built to desire the Infinite, and we cannot find the Infinite in the realm of the finite. The purpose of a religious practice is to discover our true self, which is also the discovery of our desire for the Infinite. Everything else is either a distraction from that, or a sacrament of it. Everything else is “intermediate”.

This is precisely why the Eucharist is so powerful and necessary for us, if we can receive it in faith. It feeds our body-soul-spirit unity. Swallowing the Host, knowing what it is, we take into ourselves a kind of “magnet” that helps to draw our divided selves together into one Self.

More on the dynamics of the Eucharist another time.

No comments:

Post a Comment