Woe to me if I say “I am a Christian” – possibly with a side-glance at others who in my opinion are not, or at an age that is not or at a cultural tendency flowing in the opposite direction. Then my so-called Christianity threatens to become nothing but a religious form of self-affirmation. I “am” not a Christian; I am on the way to becoming one – if God will give me the strength. Christianity is nothing one can “have”; nor is it a platform from which to judge others. It is a movement. I can become a Christian only as long as I am conscious of the possibility of falling away…The real danger is that of becoming within myself unchristian, and it is greatest when my will is most sure of itself. I have absolutely no guarantee that I shall be privileged to remain a follower of Christ save in the manner of beginning, of being en route, of becoming, trusting, hoping and praying.
— Roman Guardini, The Lord
MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
— Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude
Polemic is the order of the day. Thoughtful discourse is abased by a microsecond culture. The immediacy of communication incites a concomitant urge to respond in kind, and bereft of meaningful, authentic human contact as a touchstone for empathy, we have created a subhuman storm of whispers. Any feeling or notion can find immediate confirmation, and where can this help but lead? We are like ships, navigating by lights we carry with us, rather than looking outside of ourselves to a fixed point of reference.
As Christians, we trust because we know God will not test us beyond our strengths. Likewise, we must beware, for the greatest obstacles to salvation are the walls that we pile up on our own, out of our misplaced passions or secret vanities. We can indeed find comfort in Truth, and fly there for refuge. What we cannot do is let comfort become complacency. Scripture is clear on what is to be expected of those to whom much is given.
Lord, keep us ever mindful of who we are, what we are about, and inspire in us humilitas et caritas. Rescue us from the cells we have built for ourselves and help us to remember with kindness our fellow prisoners.