It is a beautiful thought, my children, that we have a sacrament that heals the wounds of our souls! – Saint John Vianney
Do you have soul wounds?
For me this depends on day-to-day realities. It is a discipline (see Nouwen on discipline below) not to allow things like bitterness, anger, envy, or conceit to enter in, quickly overtaking what I know to be true and beautiful. A harsh rude word is spoken or written. I resent another’s success. Or my day-to-day life practices add up to selfish spending or no time for others, which bring an inability to be generous with either.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Choices, choices, choices. Choices discipline us and bring order in and of themselves. Knowing Christ also did that for me. Knowing that I am the one he loved enough to die for — that his body was broken, the nails cut into his hands and feet as he slowly strangled, gasping for air. All that was for me. For you.
And more than the human part of that death — which was physically painful and devastating — he cried out to God, his father, to rescue him from my sin!
And then, all the petty and selfish choices I make day-to-day feel even more petty, selfish, and sickening.
But wait. The pure beauty of the sacrament is the washing away.
The cleansing of our heart, soul and mind that had been corrupted by the entangling of day-to-day.
Henri Nouwen said this:
“When God took on flesh in Jesus Christ, the uncreated and the created, the eternal and the temporal, the divine and the human became united. This unity meant that all that is mortal now points to the immortal, all that is finite now points to the infinite. In and through Jesus all creation has become like a splendid veil, through which the face of God is revealed to us. This is called the sacramental quality of the created order. All that is is sacred because all that is speaks of God’s redeeming love. Seas and winds, mountains and trees, sun, moon, and stars, and all the animals and people have become sacred windows offering us glimpses of God.”
If truly understood, this is a profound, life changing truth. If you are feeling wounded. If you inflicted those bloody wounds on your own soul, remember. He took on flesh pain and soul pain for you. He took on our sin and we are now joined to him.
And now our lives point others to the immortal, through the confession of our sin and the washing away. Through the cleansing Jesus offers.
Tell him where your soul is wounded. Let him take it from you today.
Discipline is the other side of discipleship. Discipleship without discipline is like waiting to run in the marathon without ever practicing. Discipline without discipleship is like always practicing for the marathon but never participating. It is important, however, to realize that discipline in the spiritual life is not the same as discipline in sports. Discipline in sports is the concentrated effort to master the body so that it can obey the mind better. Discipline in the spiritual life is the concentrated effort to create the space and time where God can become our master and where we can respond freely to God’s guidance.
Thus, discipline is the creation of boundaries that keep time and space open for God. Solitude requires discipline, worship requires discipline, caring for others requires discipline. They all ask us to set apart a time and a place where God’s gracious presence can be acknowledged and responded to.
These reflections are taken from Henri J.M. Nouwen’s Bread for the Journey.
- Quote from Henry Nouwen’s “The Wounded Healer” (compassioninpolitics.wordpress.com)