Whom Would Kindness Kill More: Them or You?

TBM Topic 31: Comfort the Afflicted

“Whom Would Kindness Kill More: Them or You?” by Julie Robison
Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!


During Lent, we will be discussing the Spiritual Works of Mercy.

“Today I told off a cashier who was trashing the president” read the Daily Kos headline. Color me intrigued; I clicked on it. I read it. I cried (figuratively).

The writer was just a member of the site, not an official writer, and proudly stated how he actively listens to progressive radio and keeps up on current events via The Nation and Mother Jones. He apologetically admitted he grocery shopping at Meijer (not sure why, but now I know they’re “Michigan owned, .. unionized and ha[ve] a very respectable selection of organic produce as well as locally baked breads.”)

 He described the cashier as an older white woman who “looked like she’d had a hard life.” The writer, a self-described “very political person,” says he “often feel[s] bad when I see older people still working when, in a just society, they shouldn’t have to. Obviously I don’t know her story but there she was checking and bagging groceries, a job which keeps you on your feet for hours on end, at 8:30 on a Friday night.”

 That was a poignant moment for the writer. He feels a bit of compassion for this woman. But he doesn’t act on that compassion when he hears the older woman say, “Of course Obama says there’s no inflation. I don’t think the man has ever had to buy groceries in his life. He probably gets his employees to do it for him. You know, buy his arugula?”

 First comment: I had to look up arugula. It’s a salad green.

Second comment: It’s a silly connection to make between inflation and greens, but nothing inflammatory. The woman’s point is that Obama is an elitist. An elitist is not someone who is well-off financially; it’s anyone who thinks they know better than you, and worse, wants to make you follow their plan, and not allow for deviation. Progressive liberals can be elitists. So can Republicans. So can Independent voters. It’s a personality trait, usually associated with ambitious people, and not a party line. Obama fits that definition; individual health care mandate, anyone?

The author felt differently:

 My anger was building up to a boil; I mean, I just wanted to get home to that beer and who knows how many people before me had to hear this crap? So after I was all paid up and everything was in my cart I said to her, “I suggest you keep your political opinions to yourself when you’re standing there because you never know who’s standing here. I don’t appreciate hearing my president trashed like that. That’s all I’m going to say.” Her eyes flashed with anger and realization that I must be one of “those people”. She drew in a breath, about to say something and I said, “If you say one more fucking thing I’ll go find your manager and all three of us can discuss this.” At that, she suddenly deflated. Now the look in her eyes was fear. She looked down and meekly mumbled “Ok. Sorry sir.” I left then, proud of myself and still full of anger. 

Wow. Tolerance, much? After that, he felt a twinge of remorse and wondered if he had handled that poorly. He says he realizes she’s probably just a low information voter, only listening to conservative media, like Rush and Sean (verses only reading and listening to liberal media outlets), and then he threatened her job. But he’s glad he spoke his mind; he only wonders if he could have handled that encounter better.

Ahem. This is where I get to my point about comforting the afflicted: they’re not just the physically sick. They can be spiritually sick. Or just lack good manners. I miss the old ladies who would keep order by calling the naughty child’s parents. If you want a much-needed reality series, I think Miss Manners should take to the streets!

Comfort is more than sharing a meal or a beer or a laugh. It means firmly and gently showing people the way. Whether it be a friend giving advice or a offering a stranger a smile, people find comfort in kindness. The author of the above was unkind. No opinions were changed through the experience. No hope blossomed that America’s fractured politics could reconcile themselves. Instead, a man swore at a woman and claimed victory and, worse, the moral high ground.

This post isn’t about politics. It’s about love, peace, and Jesus (who, coincidentally, brings both of those things to the party). The writer is right to say we shouldn’t back down from defending our beliefs, but never at the cost of another person’s dignity. Souls are converted by fellow souls: we must never forget that Christians are the face of Christ for the unbeliever.

As Blessed John Paul II wrote in Crossing the Threshold of Hope, “Before ascending into Heaven, Jesus said to the apostles: “I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). Though invisible, He is personally present in His Church. He is likewise present in each Christian, by virtue of baptism and other sacraments. It was usual to say, as early as the era of the Fathers, “Christianus alter Christus” (“The Christian is another Christ”), meaning by this emphasize the dignity of the baptized and his vocation, through Christ, to holiness.”

Dignity isn’t a mercantilism: dignity is for all, and there is an unlimited amount to go around, for loved ones as well every single person you disagree with or dislike. A person’s character is not measured based on the love they give when they feel it, but rather, loving (action verb) when feelings dictate otherwise. It’s those times in which it’s necessary to take a deep breath, smile, and  offer up a situation that is out of your control to God. Every person is unique, and therefore, going to disagree with you on certain points. Offer it up. Do not hurt another person to achieve victory. Offer it up. Let it go.

All for the glory of the Kingdom, people.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:36)

Is The Spirit So Willing?

TBM Topic 30: Forgive Offenses Willingly

“Is The Spirit So Willing?” by Julie Robison
Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!


During Lent, we will be discussing the Spiritual Works of Mercy.

As I write this post, I begrudgingly admit I am working on forgiving someone for saying something that hurt my pride. I am currently working on cleaning out my room. I am getting married in less than nine months and, in good conscience, I cannot bring into this marriage my very own section of some rain forest.

I have books. Hundreds of books. Then there’s the one box from grade school, and two boxes from high school, the huge bin of magazines, and the multiple drawers and boxes of college papers I have yet to go through. Then there’s my research, for current and pending projects, and five shoe boxes of epistolary correspondence. I just started on my sixth this past Christmas.

A member of my family, the Purger, said he’d help me, as long as I sign a contract saying I would not get mad about what he threw away.

Writing messages long gone, unlike my letters. (far L)

“Never!” I protested. “What if you threw away my letters?”

“Why are you saving them anyways? It’s not like you’re Flannery O’Connor. No one is going to read your letters in 50 years.”

“I’m not saving my own letters,” I huffed. “I’m saving responses to my letters.”

The comment stung. Stings. We had to stop the conversation and part on civil terms. I am now typing, depressed in spirit, in my room. Fortunately, I kept cleaning too. I had a church bulletin from the beginning of Lent, and, wouldn’t you know it! Fr. Ed says it best:

I have often thought that it would be nice to have a special name for the final Sunday before the Season of Lent begins. As a culture we have the traditions of Mardi Gras and Carneval during these days, during which people celebrate and eat and “party” before Ash Wednesday. But perhaps the Gospel for this weekend gives us a better tradition to follow: forgiveness. 

We have all heard the old saying, “To err is human, to forgive divine,” and actually it is quite correct. Who alone but God has the power to forgive sins? Who else but God sees all there is to us, both good and bad, and love, understands and absolves? When we were able to forgive one another for the hurts against us, we are, in effect, showing the face of God to those we forgive. Because we are forgiven first by Him we are able to give that gift to others. 

In the Gospel this weekend, a paralytic is brought to Jesus for healing. Little does he expect the first words to him from Jesus: “Child, your sins are forgiven”. After this Jesus says the famous words: “Rise, pick up your mat, and walk”. Why is the other statement first? Because Jesus heals the deepest wounds first. He shows that the physical paralysis of this man is not as important as the spiritual paralysis that can happen when we fall into sin. He heals this first, and does so with great love, even calling the young man “child” as he does. 

What a gift this is for him, and for all of us who have heard the story for the last 2,000 years. Jesus forgives, heals and loves us. Perhaps this gives us an indication of what this final Sunday before Lent can be about: forgiveness, healing and love. In a word, it’s about Jesus.

And in like fashion, I went downstairs and apologized for overreacting, and then told the Purger I forgave him for hurting my pride. And I mean it. If Jesus can suffer death to redeem my sins, then I can swallow my pride, admit I was wrong, and forgive, just like Jesus. Because it really is about him, not you.

Besides: if Anne can forgive Gilbert, anything is possible!

Early in the morning, as they were walking along, they saw the fig tree withered to its roots. Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” Jesus said to them in reply, “Have faith in God. Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him.Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours. When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your transgressions. (Mark 11:20-25)

Patience: The Virtue No One Has

TBM Topic 29: Bear Wrongs Patiently

“Patience: The Virtue No One Has” by Julie Robison
Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!


During Lent, we will be discussing the Spiritual Works of Mercy.

I have yet to meet a person who admits to being naturally patient. I’m not. I bet you’re not either. So first there’s that: dealing with your own inability to be patient with your own life.

I get it! Places to go, people to see. You don’t want to wait: “Waiting for the fish to bite/ or waiting for the wind to fly a kite/ or waiting around for Friday night/ or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake/ or a pot to boil, or a Better Break/ or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants/ or a wig with curls, or Another Chance” (Dr. Seuss).

But perhaps you’re beyond that. Maybe you’re finding patiently waiting and trusting in the Lord (cue the Psalms). Then, God steps it up: you have to bear other people’s wrongs patiently.

He has a funny habit of doing that, doesn’t he? Trying to make you more patient? Sanctification of self, as they say.

What usually happens, though: an unkind word (or two), uncharitable thoughts, irritability for an extended period of time, a fight between loved ones, or, more often, viciousness towards a stranger.

But that guy was a total jerk! He took my spot/ coffee/ bumped into me/ was super rude. You’re telling me I’m not right to be angry.

Sure. You can be angry. But of all the things to be mad about in the world, does this problem at hand really matter enough to fight back? Or would your kindness help the situation? Would your patience bring light to the matter at hand? Would this problem, too, pass because you chose patience over getting into a pickle?

Blessed Mother Teresa, saint-to-be, said,

 “People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

“Told you I’d be back – 3 days, people!”

As we enter Holy Week, remember the ultimate example of bearing wrongs patiently: God. We mess up every day and have to keep coming back to apologize. But he never gets tired of it: he delights in our remorse, because we apologize not out of fear of punishment, but because we love God so much that we are moved to make right when we are in the wrong.

Jesus told us that we have to forgive one person for the same offense 70 time 7 times. And if they offend you in a different way? Another 490 times. And another? 490. That’s bearing wrongs patiently. That’s imitating Christ. Is it easy? No. But more importantly- is it possible? Yes!

As one impatient person to another, let us not grow lax in our Lenten goals of self-growth. These 40 days are only the beginning of new life in Christ. If you did not add “bear wrongs patiently” to your laundry list, then perhaps you should add it now. It’s never too late to be the person God made us to be.

“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.” –Proverbs 15:18

How are you learning to bear wrongs patiently?

Alpha Delta Upsilon Lambda Tau

Admonishing the Sinner
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

The “Bright Maidens” were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

I hate this one. I hate it because I’ve been admonished for things in the past.

At which point in our lives have we been admonished most often for our sin? Childhood.

And we’re all under the false impression that onset at age 14 or so that we’re past a “stage” of being admonished. Graduating to the next stage is like being inducted into a life fraternity:

“Welcome to the club, fellow adult. Now that you’re one of us, follow our lead, turn around and give those younger folks a piece of your mind. This is how it works.”

By virtue of having more birthdays or making a few responsible life choices, we feel we’ve crossed a divide and so unwarranted advice or admonishments fall on adultified, deaf ears.

Beyond the Huckleberry Finn, pseudo-adulthood syndrome from which we all suffer, we get defensive when someone admonishes us.

If my sister calls me out on gossiping, I am ready with a quick retort about how I’ve heard her gossiping, cussing, maliciously hiding small mousetraps in the cereal boxes, or putting salt in the sugar jar. Don’t you dare tell me I’m doing something wrong when I can easily find dozens of things YOU do wrong. So there.

Both of these mindsets, wolves in sheep’s clothing, sound pretty childish when written out. See? I’m admonishing myself right now. The truly Adult Club way of handling an admonishing situation is to take a deep breath, ask myself if the person point out my faults might be right, as annoying as that might be, and correcting my behavior.

Often the only people who feel comfortable admonishing us also Love us — which, as any Peter Pan can tell you, makes it all the more annoying and hard to hear. However, in Loving us, they also wish us to be better. That’s a valiant truth about relationships, adult or otherwise.

When it comes to admonishing those who don’t know that well or stepping out of our comfort zone to admonish others on more serious sins, we listen to the Holy Spirit. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if your actions are “Loving,” one way or another.

Would it be Loving of me to yell out across the road to the pro-choicers standing and holding their signs in front of an abortion clinic that they are advocating for murder of innocent babies? Would that do more harm than good? Should I engage in a dialogue with them, instead?

I venture to determine that, in most cases, the Holy Spirit, wouldn’t ask someone to use hurtful, loud words in this situation. It might depend on the personality of the “admonisher” on how exactly to handle a situation like this, but that the Holy Spirit would assuredly ask us to be Loving in our actions.

As an active member of Alpha Delta Upsilon Lambda Tau, I vow to try to remember the Holy Spirit is the real helper in these moments. God will give me the grace to handle them the way He wishes, both when receiving and dolling out the admonishments.

It’s my job to remain like a child.

Sinner, I Admonish Thee

TBM Topic 28: Admonish the Sinner

“Sinner, I Admonish Thee” by Julie Robison
Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!


During Lent, we will be discussing the Spiritual Works of Mercy every week.

There’s a Protestant church up the street from my house that has a sign up for Lent. It reads, “Pray. Reflect. Prepare.”

This sign makes me wrinkle my nose. Mere semantics, perhaps, but why “reflect” instead of “repent”? Aren’t we called not just think about what we have done but act to more align ourselves with God’s will, as the Kingdom of God is at hand? As the Christ is going to unjustly die for our sins? My sister says it’s because “repent” has more of a negative connotation. So does the Spiritual work of Mercy “Admonish the Sinner” – which is precisely why it is needed.

Americans love admonishing the sinner. Who hasn’t signed up to promote some cause, using social media, clothing or dolla-dolla donation? Who hasn’t felt that twinge of guilt at the grocery store when you don’t give a dollar to the Very Good Cause? Oh, so you don’t support this cause? Do you kick puppies and take candy from babies too?

The second route of admonishing the sinner offends the “Don’t Judge Me” movement. Fraternal correction (as we Catholics prefer to call it) is a private correction of a fellow soul as a way to lead them to God and, ultimately, repentance. As we say in the Act of Contrition, we should be sorry we sin not out of the loss of Heaven or the fear of Hell, but because we have offended God, whom we love. This is why people cannot separate their conscience from their public actions anymore than one can separate the facts from a situation.

Admonishment should always happen out of love, and in a loving way. To act otherwise is to distort the meaning of God’s way, and perhaps turn people away. This is always a tragedy.

There are, however, some sinners need to be admonished publicly. There is a new social experiment growing to draw attention to Joseph Kony, the leader of a rebel group in Uganda who abducks children to be sex slaves and soldiers. Kony wants to establish a theocratic government based on the Ten Commandments and says God sends spirits which communicate directly with him.

His actions go beyond not practicing what he wants preached:


KONY 2012 from INVISIBLE CHILDREN on Vimeo.

Admonishing the sinner is the loving thing to do, even when it is the unpopular position. Admonishing the sinner is the right thing to do, even when the sinner claims to the higher moral ground. When Jesus lived among us, he did so in order to relate to us human, to understand our tendency towards sin, and to forgive when we ask it of him.

Repent, my fellow sinners, and believe in the Good News of Jesus Christ! The most we’ve got to lose is our pride.

Instruct the Uninformed – 7QT, Volume 54

*1*
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Have you ever been an Extraordinary Minister? What we used to call “Eucharistic Ministers,” we should now call “Extraordinary Ministers.” That is my first instruction in this 7 Quick Takes version of this week’s Bright Maiden’s topic on the first Spiritual Work of Mercy, “Instruct the Uninformed.”

This is a tough task to ask of people trying to attract others to the Faith. To “instruct the uninformed” or to “instruct the ignorant,” as it is often stated, sounds arrogant. As if we must bless others with the knowledge we have and they go without. But how often do we welcome instruction when we really need it?

Isn’t that what all of those college loans are for? Aren’t you glad to learn the tips and tricks you find on how to make life easier on Pinterest? When you’re unsure about something, don’t you wish someone would just set the record straight?

*2*

This is where we come in. Extraordinary Ministers hold the great position of distributing the Eucharist to His people. We actually give Jesus to hundreds of people.

“This is the Body of Christ” — Words of true weight pass our lips for fifteen minutes.

So what do you do when someone approaches you and obviously doesn’t know what you’re about to give them?

In most situations (ie, apathetic teens), we can only instruct with “This is the Body of Christ,” saying it with purpose. However, when someone is chewing gum, they are obviously ignorant of what they’re doing and unprepared to receive the Eucharist.

A fellow EM of mine says that when a parishioner approaches him with gum showing in the corners of their mouth, he leans down and says, “I can’t serve you with gum in your mouth. Go spit it out and then get back in line, please.”

It sounds harsh, but those who chew gum moments before receiving the Eucharist really shouldn’t receive at all. They haven’t prepared for it. However, that moment is a moment wherein this person could completely turn away from the Church out of embarrassment or recognize that this EM is giving them a second chance.

Then they work out the rest with God.

*3*

One of my biggest pet peeves as an EM is a silly little ritual many parishioners at my church go through and I would love your input on how to handle it. Several married couples will approach me together, wait for me to give them both the Eucharist, and then receive it together.

ARGH! I should be concentrating on ministering, and I usually snap back into it. Quite frankly, when they stand side-by-side, I think, “Y’all are consuming the Eucharist! You’re in full Communion with EVERYONE who has ever consumed the Eucharist! You’re in full Communion with Christ! Why do you feel you have to add this extra bit of ‘specialness?'”

I’ve settled on the decision to just administer to the Eucharist to these folks rather than whispering, “I’ll serve you, one at a time.” What do you think we should do in this case, Extraordinary Ministers out there? Is this silly to you or are you ready to throw a punch at me?

*4*


A friend once went to Mass and sat behind a young boy who, upon returning from the Eucharist line, proceeded to rip the Eucharist wafer into little pieces and tossing them into the air. He caught the pieces and threw them up in the air again.

Horrified, my friend’s husband asked the boy if he was going to consume the Eucharist, while the boy’s mom sat a few feet away.

It made no disturbance in the pew, my friend held out his hand as the boy poured the pieces into his hand, and he consumed it.

This is instructing the ignorant.

*5*

On twitter the other day, a self-proclaimed “holiday Catholic” said he was going to get the “crackers and wine” and he needed to find a place to get them and ashes.

Because Twitter is a great e-vangelizing forum, even if our efforts there only plant seeds, I decided to reach out. My first thought on this one was, “Why do you care to go at all if you think they’re crackers and wine?” I corrected him and wished him good fortune in finding a place he liked. These are easy ways to instruct the uninformed because we don’t have the direct confrontation.

*6*

Another Twitter encounter occurred the other day between me, Kate, Karianna, and “Feminist Breeder.” You can see some of those points here and here.

The Catholic Church is not anti-gay, as Feminist Breeder was saying, and we wanted to set her straight. Karianna said, “Anti-gay not fair. Catholicism calls for all singles to remain chaste, gay or not.” Kate followed up with, “And sin is sin, we’re all equally sinful – Church is anti-sin, not anti-gay.”


We need to inform those who think poorly of the Catholic Church as well as those who are tossing pieces of Jesus into the air at Mass.

*7*

I don’t know whether or not my roommate thinks poorly of the Catholic Church, but I don’t think she was familiar with Natural Family Planning methods. The other day, I told my new roommate that I am interested in using NFP as a wife and she said, “Is that like biorhythms?”

Thanks to folks like Katie, I got to explain to her, no, NFP is not like the rhythm method anymore. I explained that the rhythm method was used back in the 1930s and that we know a lot more about how best to avoid or to achieve pregnancy while keeping God in our bedrooms.

I also used the opportunity to explain that most of the methods are at least 97% effective when used properly (which relies on married couples communicating — another benefit), which is far more promising than something like condoms. The error margin of condom use increases exponentially with every use (statisticians, help me learn how best to explain this, please!), while NFP methods remain effective as long as couples chart and communicate.

Every little conversation plants a seed and every little bit of ignorance we can rub out of the world leaves more opportunities for the Lord to work. This is our calling!

I Am That I Am

TBM Topic 26: Instruct the Ignorant

“I Am That I Am” by Julie Robison
Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!


During Lent, we will be discussing the Spiritual Works of Mercy every week.



Ignorant is not a word I particularly care for, yet most people are culpable. It comes from the Latin words in (not) and gnarus (knowing).

New Advent defines ignorance as “lack of knowledge about a thing in a being capable of knowing. Fundamentally speaking and with regard to a given object ignorance is the outcome of the limitations of our intellect or of the obscurity of the matter itself.”

Today, we Catholics (and fellow orthodox Christian and Jewish brothers and sisters) face bigotry based on ignorance of our faith, religion and history. The greater good would be served, society is led to believe, if God was kept in the pews and within the walls of our homes. God is good as long as God is contained.

But our God is an awesome God – awesome in the “awe-inspiring” way. God is not our bro. God is not our homeboy. God is the Almighty one – the Alpha (first) and the Omega (last) – the one who is, the one who was, the one who will be (Revelation 1:8).

And he will not be contained. We cannot limit his power, his mercy, his goodness or his Kingdom Come. Our reasons are not his reasons, and this is the first step to instructing ignorance: discernment of our own vocation.

Flannery O’Connor wrote that “Ignorance is excusable when it is borne like a cross, but when it is wielded like an ax, and with moral indignation, then it becomes something else indeed.”

For many, the best reason to be a Christian is the joy and fellowship of other Christians. For others, Christians are the best reason not to be a Christian – their small-mindedness, their inability to compromise, their, well, ignorance.

And so, who has the high ground here? The miserable Christians who pray, “I believe – help my disbelief!” Or the one who discuss God’s take on a few things, would certainly invite him over for a drink, and then be done with the old chap. He’s not really our kind of man, if you know what we mean.

We certainly do. Which is ignorance on their part. I truly this many people intentionally stay ignorant of God – learn things about him, sure, and learn about things that surround him. But not him. After all, it is hard to look at God on the cross and really know that he knows our hearts. He can touch and change our lives, if we only get to know him. Our God is the God of all; our path towards God will never be repeated for another.

While discussing a struggle with my sister last night, she told me I had to believe the consequences would be bad if I continued. She did not mean in the short term, or even in human terms: she meant, if I really wanted a change of heart, I’d have to care more about offending God. The kind of caring that shows considerations for another feelings. In short, I need to know God on a much more personal level, the kind that changes my actions and words in the long-term as well as the short.

We Catholics have a prayer for that: the Act of Contrition. We say it after the sacrament of Reconciliation. It goes, O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.

This prayer is not said or meant lightly. Humanity is like a heat-seeking missile: it seeks Truth. It is not pretentious to claim to know Truth, as the Catholic Church does, for example. 2,000 years of bad press and still the truths found in the dogmas and sacraments, particularly the Eucharist, resonate across every color and creed.

No one has it easy. No one knows (or can know) “everything.” Ignorance infects the best and most brilliant among us. It is the humility to ask God, to knock on his door, to seek his guidance, that really begins the journey. Some times, people need other people to help them get there, be it in books, blog posts, or conversations.

Perhaps more importantly though, a person needs to be self-aware where they are ignorant. One can always instruct where they know and understand, but they must also be willing to learn. That way, knowledge leads to wisdom, and not a higher level of ignorance.