Lord have mercy. The more I appreciate and comprehend the true beauty and love of the forgiveness that Our Father sends through His Anointed, so much more clearly can I see my own sinfulness, and the tragic effect of rebellion against the Almighty in day-to-day life.
"Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord."
The real danger is that, discovering the fullness of our rich Faith through study, I begin to develop a merely academic relationship with God. Faith turns into knowledge when we forget that Christ, the Way and the Truth, is not only the messenger but is himself the very message itself.
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness."
This loss of the spiritual and intimate side of the Christ life awakens in me the worst temptation. In the Gospels, Jesus reserves special scorn and vitriol for the hypocrites, the Pharisees and the scribes. The temptation is that, being knowledgeable of heresy and sin, I am all too often tempted to whitewash over my own transgressions and iniquities in order to come across as my own perception of a "good Christian".
"And the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes towards heaven; but struck his breast, saying: O god, be merciful to me a sinner."
So I acknowledge my sin. Please, dear reader, don't be fooled by my whitewashed sephulcre. As I am sure you know "all have sinned". I am currently trying to reinvigorate my diminishing prayer life. I think I will try to avoid the pretentiousness of the Divine Office for a little while; that might only inflate my already swollen ego. I have found great comfort in the "Jesus prayer", which I would recommend to anyone; the echo of the publican's prayer is both mournful and hopeful, and the Holy Name reminds me that we have hope in Christ.
"For neither doth the Father judge any man, but hath given all judgment to the Son."
The rather magnificent icon just above is a symbol of both fear and hope for sinners such as we. We are afraid, because we know that the Perfect One will judge us against His most exacting standards of Faith and Love, and because we know that some will be burned as darnel in the furnace. On the other hand, it is a symbol of hope, because we will be judged by the one who is our brother in Baptism and Faith. Jesus the Anointed is the Gospel, with the love of a brother and the infinite wisdom of the Omniscient He shall judge us, and we may be saved by that Gospel. The symbols of the Evangelists remind us of this.
"Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace."
So I will have faith in Him, pray for His mercy, and trust the one who is Message and Messenger.