"How could I be spiritually blind? I practice my faith, I enjoy prayer immensely, and I even have a spiritual director!”
Thankfully, we were reading and answering questions from a workbook, so while I felt myself in the moment emotionally impaired at the thought that I could experience spiritual blindness, I managed to read on! Now, it wasn’t the first time I’d heard about spiritual blindness—but rather the first time I heard it deeply and personally with the ears of my heart. That makes a difference. Would you agree?
I want to share that infamous passage with you from Michael Gaitley’s retreat workbook, Consoling the Heart of Jesus that spoke so powerfully to my heart at the time. Take a look at this and please read it carefully…especially that last sentence:
We need to avoid two extremes: Thinking there’s nothing wrong with us, and thinking everything’s wrong with us. On the one hand, do we think we are without sin? It’s amazing how many people say, “I’m a good person” and are unable to think of even one sin after months and even years of not going to confession. This is not sanctity, but spiritual blindness.
~ Michael Gaitley, MIC
For those of you who are not practicing Catholics the confession example won’t apply to you, however the general idea of paying no attention to little offenses and dismissing them does.
The point here is that it takes courage to think honestly about our less-than-stellar self but if you have ever done so—you’ll get the picture I’m trying to paint of how easily we excuse or accept numerous little offensive behaviors of our own and in full recognition of them declare ourselves “good” because after all they're not nearly as bad as murder or grand theft!
Okay, I shared that passage with you primarily to let you experience the impact of hearing “ This is not sanctity but spiritual blindness” for yourself. Some of you will read it and think, “Heck, who is he to judge me?” and move right along dismissing Gaitley's words as judgmental and of no significance whatsoever to you and how you live your life. But some of you, like me, will feel the sting of those words deeply in your spirit…your heart. And that's really good.
Actually, either way it’s a good thing.
To casually dismiss it can show you something else equally important—your pride. What’s good about that? Well, it’s pretty amazing that whenever we run up against a “good" that we are not willing or ready to yield to we naturally respond with resisting pride. Pride is resistance to all objective good. It’s that wounded part of the soul that says to God, I decide what is objectively good for me—no one else, not even you!
To experience the part of you that can be highly resistant to truth, goodness, and even God—your pride, is a good thing because at the very same time it shows your weakness and brokenness. No one can deny being prideful, or vainly self-protective. It’s natural for us. What makes this a good is the grace of God at work here helping you to experience the vanity of pride. To experience goodness at all is an act of divine grace. Here, God uses your very pride to bring you into awareness of its foolishness and emptiness.
Now, on the other hand, to feel offended is good because this tells you that truth has touched you deeply. Until you are touched at your very depth, you cannot make any changes in your life that will stick! So, again, grace works both ways—in our resistance and acknowledgement--to bring you and me truth and light…to guide us into the merciful embrace of God.
The truth is we are all afflicted with spiritual blindness to some degree. It's the hidden affliction of the human soul. It has many causes and consequences. The very good news is that it can be healed, and that God in merciful love longs to heal us of it so we can know Him and ourselves more deeply.
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