The Prob­lem of Virtue

Holi­ness has some­thing of a bad press.

Being holy” does not seem very desir­able to many peo­ple in our con­tem­po­rary soci­ety. Those who speak up for virtue are often derid­ed as moral­is­tic, sanc­ti­mo­nious, or holi­er-than-thou. The media reacts sharply against preachy” pub­lic fig­ures who pre­sume to tell us how to order our pri­vate lives. And those who appear to be liv­ing lives of moral rec­ti­tude are treat­ed with sus­pi­cion: can they real­ly be whiter than white? Or are they hid­ing dark­er truths about them­selves – clean on the out­side, but as filthy as the rest with­in? We have seen so many spec­tac­u­lar falls from grace amongst our celebri­ties, politi­cians, and church lead­ers that we have become wary of tak­ing virtue at face val­ue. There are, it would seem, more wolves in sheep’s cloth­ing than there are gen­uine sheep.

And who, after all, wants the sheep’s life any­way? Frankly, to many of us sin just seems a lot more fun than saint­hood. Fans of The Simp­sons know that, how­ev­er flawed Homer and his fam­i­ly might be, they are a sight more bear­able than the obnox­ious­ly reli­gious and impos­si­bly per­fect Ned Flan­ders. Just as the dev­il some­times seems to have all the best music, so he often appears to have all the best and most enter­tain­ing pur­suits, leav­ing the pious to their hair-shirts and hom­i­lies. It often looks as though the good and the god­ly are gin­ger­ly pick­ing their way through a mine­field of thou shalt nots” while sin­ners romp in wide open mead­ows. Holi­ness only holds us back.

Or so it appears. But these images of sanc­ti­ty and sin fall apart when we take a clos­er look at them. In fact, when we take the time to reflect on the nature of virtue and vice, we make the unex­pect­ed dis­cov­ery that it is holi­ness that leads us into the fullest, most enrich­ing expe­ri­ence of life, while sin acts like a malig­nant can­cer, slow­ly tear­ing us apart from with­in. We are made to be holy. And Jesus offers us the most pro­found insights into holi­ness – not only in his teach­ing, but also in the vibrant qual­i­ty of his deeply vir­tu­ous life.

Cre­at­ed to Love

The open­ing chap­ter of the Bible tells us that we are made in the image of God” (Gen 1:27). Schol­ars and the­olo­gians have reflect­ed for over two mil­len­nia about exact­ly what that might mean, but the apos­tle John, in his first let­ter, gives us an impor­tant insight into at least one sig­nif­i­cant impli­ca­tion. God is love,” he writes, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them” (1 Jn 4:16). To bear the char­ac­ter of God is to have love hard­wired into our essen­tial nature. The more we are con­formed to the char­ac­ter of God, the more per­fect­ly lov­ing we will become. We are cre­at­ed to love.

When God calls us to holi­ness, he roots that call in his own char­ac­ter: Be holy,” he says to the Israelites, for I am holy” (Lev 11:44). Holi­ness, then, can­not sim­ply be an abstract puri­ty of our inte­ri­or nature – an unsul­lied con­science, free from guilt. Rather it is a sum­mons to pure love, to be the kind of peo­ple who can devel­op good, deep, lov­ing rela­tion­ships, both with God and with oth­er peo­ple, rela­tion­ships which are safe and enrich­ing for all con­cerned. Jesus cer­tain­ly seems to under­stand the call in this way. In the first half of the Ser­mon on the Mount he address­es a series of issues which threat­en to under­mine the qual­i­ty of lov­ing rela­tion­ships: anger, adul­tery, divorce, decep­tion, and revenge. He then push­es the bound­aries of love fur­ther than any rea­son­able moral­i­ty would seem to demand: Love your ene­mies,” he says, and pray for those who per­se­cute you” (Mt 5:44). In this way, he says, you will be per­fect, as your heav­en­ly Father is per­fect” (Mt 5:48). Love, it seems, is the ful­fill­ment of holiness.

Many years lat­er, the great twelfth cen­tu­ry Domini­can writer Thomas Aquinas picked up on this strand of bib­li­cal teach­ing and made the star­tling asser­tion that love was more than the goal of Chris­t­ian per­fec­tion: it is the fun­da­men­tal pow­er behind the cre­at­ed order. Just as physi­cists probe sub-atom­ic struc­ture to iden­ti­fy the basic forces and par­ti­cles that make up this phys­i­cal uni­verse, so Aquinas probed to the depths of Chris­t­ian the­ol­o­gy to iden­ti­fy the dri­ving ener­gy behind cre­ation itself. In the end, Aquinas argued, every­thing is ground­ed in love, since all cre­ation reflects the char­ac­ter of the one who made it. He sug­gest­ed that we are not only made to love, we are made of love. Every­thing we do is dri­ven by this divine qual­i­ty: all we can do is love.

But Aquinas had no illu­sions about the ter­ri­fy­ing human capac­i­ty for sin. He wrote about the lethal pow­er of sin, that turn­ing away from our last end which is God.” He came to see love as hav­ing the kind of awe­some pow­er we see in nuclear fusion. Well-ordered and direct­ed to the right ends, love can trans­form lives, insep­a­ra­bly unite peo­ple with one anoth­er and God, and act as the har­mo­nious and cre­ative pow­er which holds all cre­ation in being. But mis­di­rect­ed – allowed to turn in on itself, allowed to run wild­ly on the heels of any and every desire of our mis­guid­ed hearts – love can become a hor­ri­fy­ing­ly destruc­tive force, tear­ing apart the world from under our feet. Love, right­ly ordered, will be the foun­da­tion of the king­dom of God. But grotesque­ly dis­or­dered love, inor­di­nate self-love which swirls in on itself like a fierce tor­na­do, has the capac­i­ty to shape tragedies like Auschwitz or the Rwan­dan geno­cide. Sin – love dis­or­dered is hor­rif­ic. But holi­ness – love right­ly ordered is life in all its abundance.

Love: The Holi­ness of Jesus

We see this reflect­ed in almost every page of the Gospel nar­ra­tives. The Phar­isees were cre­at­ed to love, but they turned that love in on them­selves and exalt­ed them­selves as the guardians and purest prac­ti­tion­ers of piety. They took the gift of life embod­ied into the law and trans­formed it into an instru­ment of con­dem­na­tion and death. Hence their dis­or­dered love could allow them to drag a woman into the pres­ence of Jesus and demand that she be stoned to death (Jn 8:2 – 11) yet resist Jesus’ gift of lib­er­at­ing heal­ing in the syn­a­gogue because it is offered on the Sab­bath (Mk 3:1 – 6). More sig­nif­i­cant­ly, the inward­ly-twist­ed self-love of all those in Jerusalem, Jews and Gen­tiles togeth­er, drove the author­i­ties and crowds to bru­tal­ize Jesus before nail­ing him to a cross where he might hang in agony and die. The hor­ror of sin is plain in sto­ry after sto­ry, and nowhere more so than at Golgotha.

Yet the well-ordered love of Jesus – his holi­ness – runs through the Gospel nar­ra­tives like a refresh­ing riv­er. Con­front­ed with a demo­ni­ac in their midst, the Gerasenes had react­ed with fear and loathing, dread­ing the dan­ger to them­selves. See­ing only the prob­lem they react­ed strong­ly, push­ing the man from their midst: he had often been restrained with shack­les and chains … night and day among the tombs and on the moun­tains he was always howl­ing” (Mk 5:4 – 5). But in his pro­found love, Jesus sees the man. Notice this: it is not the demons who are asked to name them­selves; Jesus asks the man him­self, What is your name?” Treat­ing the demons with con­tempt, he casts them out; treat­ing the man with the kind­est regard, he seeks to know him and draw near to him – per­haps the first per­son who has ever sought to do so.

Oth­er exam­ples of this pro­found­ly well-ordered love abound. And fas­ci­nat­ing­ly those most dam­aged by sin, or most sick­ened by the sin with­in them, found this holi­ness not repel­lent but deeply attrac­tive. There is no hint here of a judg­men­tal holi­ness” which defines itself over and above the flawed natures of oth­ers (the holi­ness of the scribes and Phar­isees” about which Jesus was so bit­ing­ly severe). In Jesus some of the most ruined souls found a refuge of love and grace. Mary Mag­da­lene, in whom Chris­t­ian tra­di­tion dis­cerned a seri­ous­ly dis­or­dered sex­u­al­i­ty, found the one man with whom she could be safe. Levi and Zac­cheus, both despised tax col­lec­tors, found one who refused to despise any. A man afflict­ed with lep­rosy found one per­son who was will­ing to reach out and touch him – per­haps as much a mirac­u­lous heal­ing as the cur­ing of his dis­ease itself (Lk 5:12 – 16). A woman who was bro­ken and weep­ing over her sin­ful­ness found not only for­give­ness, but one who defend­ed her against her accusers (Lk 7:36 – 50).

This is the holi­ness to which we are called: a puri­ty, cer­tain­ly, but not a puri­ty which stands aloof from a filthy and cor­rupt­ed world, look­ing down with sanc­ti­mo­nious pity or judg­men­tal hor­ror on those still mired in vice. This is a puri­ty of heart; a heart healed from the dread­ful inward turn that maims its capac­i­ty to love well, a heart lib­er­at­ed from self-obses­sion, a heart enabled to do one thing only, and that thing well – to love. Jesus lived that puri­ty, that holi­ness. And it is pos­si­ble to learn from his life, teach­ing, and prac­tices, how to open our­selves to the heal­ing grace of God in such a way that this lov­ing holi­ness is formed in our lives too. As we become like Jesus, we can become more tru­ly holy … and rejoice in it!

Love Mis­di­rect­ed

Thomas Aquinas, in his Sum­ma The­olo­giae, dis­cuss­es the root and ori­gin of sin by com­par­ing two vers­es, one from the New Tes­ta­ment and the oth­er from the Deute­ro­canon­i­cal books. He notes first that Paul writes to Tim­o­thy: the love of mon­ey is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim 6:10). But along­side this he sets a line from the apoc­ryphal book of Sir­ach which says (in the Latin Vul­gate), pride is the begin­ning of all sin” (Sir 10:15). Whether or not we want to accept, with Aquinas, the author­i­ty of the deute­ro­canon­i­cal text, the point he makes from these vers­es fits well with the tenor of Scrip­ture as a whole. The first, he says, describes the way in which we allow our hearts to turn to an inap­pro­pri­ate degree towards the beau­ty and rich­ness of cre­ation. But the sec­ond cuts to the deep­er and more seri­ous issue of the way we allow our eyes to be turned away from God him­self in the first place. As Paul puts it so direct­ly, they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and wor­shiped and served the crea­ture rather than the Cre­ator” (Rom 1:25). Our hearts become increas­ing­ly holy as they are healed of these twin mal­adies; we begin though by focus­ing our atten­tion on the lat­ter, our pride­ful turn­ing from God.

The most odi­ous cor­rup­tion of love with­in our souls takes place when we allow love to become inward­ly direct­ed and self-absorbed. Chris­tians insist on a sim­ple truth which is strik­ing­ly counter-cul­tur­al in our con­tem­po­rary soci­ety, obsessed as it is with self-real­iza­tion and self-regard: we are not here to love ourselves.

Now that needs some qual­i­fi­ca­tion, of course. It is not that we Chris­tians are called to hate our­selves. The loathing which some peo­ple expe­ri­ence when they look in the mir­ror is nei­ther nat­ur­al nor healthy. But, con­trary to the way many preach­ers and writ­ers have come to inter­pret Christ’s teach­ing on the great com­mand­ments, the call to love your neigh­bor as you love your­self ” (Mt 22:39) does not imply that our first task is to learn self-love. 

The twelfth cen­tu­ry Cis­ter­cian writer Bernard of Clair­vaux had a clear­er pic­ture. In his short but bril­liant work On Lov­ing God,” he argued that love at its least per­fect­ed is inward­ly focused, seek­ing only its own good. And this self-love is not true love at all, mere­ly the pow­er of love cor­rupt­ed into pride and van­i­ty. As grace begins to reorder our hearts, though, some of that love starts to turn out­ward, towards God (and our neigh­bor), draw­ing us beyond our­selves – even if ini­tial­ly only because of the self­ish ben­e­fits we can derive from oth­ers. A yet more well-ordered heart is able to love God and oth­ers for their own sake. And final­ly, says Bernard, we then tru­ly learn what it means to love our­selves: to be grate­ful for the gift of our­selves, the only thing we tru­ly have to offer to God and those around us, to express love. Growth in holi­ness ends in a prop­er love of self by turn­ing out­ward to oth­ers, not by turn­ing inward on ourselves.

The hall­mark of the holi­ness of Jesus is this con­stant turn­ing toward oth­ers seen in his con­stant acts of humil­i­ty and ser­vice. Per­haps the most strik­ing exam­ple occurs on the night of the last sup­per. The apos­tle John tells us that Jesus, ful­ly aware of his divine ori­gins and sig­nif­i­cance, was seek­ing a way to love his dis­ci­ples to the end” (Jn 13:1 – an equal­ly accu­rate trans­la­tion of the Greek could be to the utmost”). So he stripped off his out­er gar­ment and pro­ceed­ed to per­form the work of the low­est, most menial slave: wash­ing the filthy, dirt-crust­ed feet of those around him. The dis­ci­ples are shocked and appalled, so much so that Peter is embar­rassed for Jesus and tries to refuse. But Jesus per­sists, teach­ing them what holi­ness towards oth­ers might mean – and call­ing them to love one anoth­er to exact­ly the same degree.

For we who fol­low Christ, oppor­tu­ni­ties for sim­i­lar acts of hum­ble ser­vice abound. The world around us scram­bles to be the first, the great­est, the strongest; the way is wide open for those will­ing to become the least and the last. Jesus him­self gives us numer­ous ideas of how we might live into the holi­ness of the ser­vant. Choose to take the low­est place in the peck­ing order, not the high­est (Lk 14:7 – 11). Share meals with out­casts, even invit­ing them into your home (Lk 14:12 – 14). Do not be mis­led by trap­pings of hon­or and pow­er, but be ready to rec­og­nize the pres­ence of the King of Glo­ry in even the small­est child (Lk 9:46 – 48). You might want to stop read­ing for a moment and reflect. What oppor­tu­ni­ties has God placed before me to serve oth­ers? Do I sense the resis­tance of my heart to tak­ing the low­est and least place? Pray for the grace to be able to lay aside pride and take up the servant’s tow­el. A heart reordered towards oth­ers is a heart which is grow­ing in holiness.

Exces­sive Love

Con­tin­u­ing to ana­lyze the effects of sin on the human heart, just as a doc­tor care­ful­ly diag­noses the sick patient, Aquinas turned from pride, the ori­gin of sin, to the inap­pro­pri­ate love for cre­ation which is the root of so many kinds of evil. Here is a love which at least looks beyond our­selves, he sug­gests – but which is nev­er­the­less dis­or­dered, since it is not ful­ly turned towards our last end, which is God.” This is love which places the cre­ation above the Creator.

Again it might help to clar­i­fy. Chris­tians have always resist­ed the idea that mate­r­i­al cre­ation in itself is bad, evil, or cor­rupt. Gen­e­sis tells us repeat­ed­ly that as God called the var­i­ous ele­ments of cre­ation into being, he saw that it was good” (Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, and 25). Human beings delight­ed him so ful­ly that after their cre­ation he went fur­ther, pro­claim­ing the new­ly formed uni­verse very good” (Gen 1:31). There is cer­tain­ly no grounds in Scrip­ture for a reli­gion that delights in the spir­i­tu­al while den­i­grat­ing the phys­i­cal world. The dust from which the sons and daugh­ters of God are made is both very phys­i­cal and very wonderful.

But it is pos­si­ble for us to delight in the mate­r­i­al cre­ation to an inor­di­nate degree, in ways that are good nei­ther for us, for oth­ers, or for the wider world – and which cer­tain­ly draw us away from any depth of inti­ma­cy with God. Clas­si­cal­ly Chris­tians have spo­ken of three car­di­nal sins which afflict us in this way: glut­tony (an inor­di­nate appetite for food), avarice (an unbal­anced desire for wealth), and lust (a dis­or­dered love of sex­u­al pleasure).

Once again it is Jesus who shows us not only what a pro­found­ly well-ordered life looks like, in con­trast to these degrad­ing vices, but also the prac­tices of life which make life-giv­ing virtue and holi­ness possible.

Jesus enjoyed food and drink. He is often depict­ed in the Gospels shar­ing meals with peo­ple: with his dis­ci­ples, with the tax col­lec­tors and sin­ners,” and with Phar­isees. He talked of the king­dom of God in terms of a great Mes­sian­ic ban­quet. He accept­ed invi­ta­tions to par­ties, and even helped along the cel­e­bra­tions at a wed­ding recep­tion in Cana. In con­trast to John the Bap­tist, who lived very aus­tere­ly, Jesus acquired the rep­u­ta­tion of being a glut­ton and a wine bib­ber” (Mt 11:19)! Yet he kept his enjoy­ment with­in mod­er­a­tion; we have no indi­ca­tion that he ate or drank to excess. And he was able to use the gift of food to draw peo­ple deep­er into their life in God; he used the feed­ing of the five thou­sand as the launch­ing point for a con­ver­sa­tion about the true bread from heav­en” (Jn 6:22 – 59), and insti­tut­ed as the cen­tral act of Chris­t­ian wor­ship a com­mon meal, the break­ing of bread and shar­ing of a cup.

In the same way, Jesus was able to enjoy the mate­r­i­al world around him while main­tain­ing a life of delib­er­ate sim­plic­i­ty. He was nei­ther averse to wealth (some who fol­lowed him were peo­ple of con­sid­er­able means, who sup­port­ed his min­istry and enter­tained him in their homes), nor hun­gry to acquire it. Like Paul, he had learned to be con­tent” with what­ev­er he had (cf Phil 4:11).

It is more dif­fi­cult for us to reflect on the well-ordered sex­u­al desires of Jesus. For some, it may be dif­fi­cult to con­sid­er the idea, although that prob­a­bly has more to do with our dis­or­dered under­stand­ing of sex­u­al­i­ty than with Jesus him­self. Sim­ply put, Jesus became human – ful­ly human – and so became a sex­u­al being, even if he nev­er con­sum­mat­ed that sex­u­al­i­ty in a rela­tion­ship. (As an aside, Dan Brown’s con­tention in The Da Vin­ci Code that the church might be rocked by a rev­e­la­tion that Jesus fathered chil­dren was sim­ply non­sense – there was nev­er any the­o­log­i­cal prob­lem there, only the sim­ple his­tor­i­cal prob­lem that it had nev­er hap­pened …!) Jesus was not some strange asex­u­al being; he had a well-ordered sex­u­al­i­ty which nev­er sought to use oth­er peo­ple sim­ply for his own grat­i­fi­ca­tion. As the writer to the
Hebrews puts it, Jesus in every respect has been test­ed as we are, yet with­out sin” (Heb 4:15).

One of the sim­ple prac­tices Jesus used to keep his appetites well-ordered seems to have been a cycle of fast­ing and feast­ing. The val­ue of fast­ing for keep­ing our appetites in check is self-evi­dent, and we cer­tain­ly see Jesus prac­tic­ing fast­ing at some of the most crit­i­cal moments of his min­istry. The spir­i­tu­al dis­ci­pline of feast­ing may seem less obvi­ous­ly help­ful. It is essen­tial, how­ev­er, that we not only learn how to keep our phys­i­cal desires in check, but also that we learn how to prop­er­ly enjoy cre­ation as a means of fos­ter­ing our love for God and oth­er peo­ple. As you read, you might want to reflect for a moment. Which of my appetites are most dis­or­dered? What effect does that have on me, and on oth­ers? How might I more appro­pri­ate­ly use the gifts of food, mon­ey, and sex­u­al­i­ty to express gen­uine, self-giv­ing love for oth­ers? How can my rela­tion­ship with cre­ation become more cel­e­bra­to­ry, and less con­sump­tive? Pray for the gift of greater holi­ness in your rela­tion­ships with the mate­r­i­al world around you.

Luke­warm Love

The last major bar­ri­er to holi­ness which our hearts face is the cool­ing of our ardor for God. The Chris­t­ian tra­di­tion has often spo­ken of this as the sin of sloth, a trans­la­tion of the Greek word ake­dia (some­times writ­ten in its Lati­nate form, acci­die). We tend to think of sloth as a very minor issue, lit­tle more than over­sleep­ing on a sun­ny Sat­ur­day morn­ing, or fail­ing to file our tax returns on time. But for Chris­tians that word has always had a much more point­ed mean­ing: it is the fail­ure to main­tain an atten­tive and pas­sion­ate love for God, a neglect of the great­est com­mand­ment: love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Mt 22:37).

The ear­ly Desert Chris­tians of Egypt spoke of ake­dia in vivid and con­crete terms as the noon­day demon.” Pic­ture the monk in his cell, they would say. As the sun ris­es, so the monk ris­es filled with enthu­si­asm for the new day. Psalms are sung, and prayers are recit­ed. The day’s work begins. Through­out the morn­ing, the monk remains fer­vent and atten­tive to God. But as the burn­ing sun ris­es high into the sky, time seems too slow. Ener­gy lev­els drop. Evening seems so far away, and both work and prayer become unbear­ably tedious. The monk becomes list­less and rest­less. The pur­suit of God comes to an exhaust­ed halt.

This is a beau­ti­ful metaphor of the Chris­t­ian life as a whole, com­pressed into a sin­gle day. Fol­low­ing Christ is a long haul propo­si­tion. It is easy to begin with tremen­dous enthu­si­asm, only to find after a num­ber of years that our piety has become a famil­iar habit, and our devo­tion rote. Church no longer inspires us. Our prayers and Bible read­ings are duti­ful, but not life-chang­ing. And at this point it is very easy to allow our white-hot pas­sion for God to cool into a more com­fort­able glow­ing ember. It is easy to let love sleep.

Jesus refused to let his rela­tion­ship with the Father slip into tor­pid­i­ty. It’s instruc­tive to see how he nur­tured the fire of love – there is much we can learn here from our Mas­ter and Teacher. We dis­cussed Jesus’ life of prayer in the pre­vi­ous issue of Explo­rations; clear­ly the time Jesus spent in prayer, in silence, in con­tem­pla­tive atten­tive­ness to his Father helped great­ly to nur­ture the inti­ma­cy of that rela­tion­ship. We also notice in the Gospels that Jesus is very atten­tive to the life of pub­lic wor­ship of his com­mu­ni­ty. Luke tells us that attend­ing his syn­a­gogue on the sab­bath was his cus­tom” (Lk 4:16). As far as we can tell, he made the pil­grim­age to Jerusalem for the great feasts of Passover, Taber­na­cles, and Pen­te­cost every year of his pub­lic min­istry – a pat­tern of wor­ship he had learned dur­ing his upbring­ing. And he spent time on retreat” – with­drawn from the bus­tle of his pub­lic life, find­ing time to seek his Father’s face in soli­tude. Here the Con­tem­pla­tive and Holi­ness tra­di­tions fuse. A prayer-filled life lays foun­da­tions for virtue, which in turn enables our soul to expe­ri­ence ever greater inti­ma­cy with God.

You may want to pause here again for a few moments and reflect. The Song of Songs tells us that love is strong as death, pas­sion fierce as the grave” (7:6). Is that the kind of love you are expe­ri­enc­ing for God? If so, how can you best fuel and express that pas­sion? If not, how might you recap­ture an ardent love? Do you need to arrange a retreat, or some time for prayer and silence? How might your church be able to help? Pray for a renewed fire of love, and for the wis­dom to know how to fan it to flame rather than smoth­er it.

Inte­grat­ed Love: Life Ordered to a Sin­gle End

The Eng­lish word holi­ness” is drawn from an old­er word mean­ing whole­ness.” The whole­ness God desires for us hap­pens as the var­i­ous desires and dis­or­ders of our souls are healed and unit­ed towards a sin­gle end: love. As God’s grace draws us into an ever fuller life of sac­ri­fi­cial, self-giv­ing love we increas­ing­ly become the peo­ple we were cre­at­ed to be, peo­ple who ful­ly reflect the essen­tial char­ac­ter of God. Per­fect holi­ness is per­fect love, and this is the goal towards which Jesus con­tin­u­al­ly beck­ons us, no mat­ter how fre­quent­ly we fall short. As we live into the way of Christ, our twist­ed self-love is slow­ly straight­ened out, our exces­sive love for cre­ation is brought into appro­pri­ate pro­por­tion, and our luke­warm love for God is kin­dled into burn­ing fire. The prac­tice of virtue leads to integri­ty, to an inte­gra­tion of our scat­tered souls into one uni­fied whole. We dis­cov­er the won­der­ful plea­sure of holiness.

C. S. Lewis once wrote: We are half-heart­ed crea­tures, fool­ing about with drink and sex and ambi­tion when infi­nite joy is offered us.” Jesus shows us how to embrace a life that is abun­dant and full, a life of integri­ty and whole­ness, a life sur­ren­dered to love. This is the way of holi­ness; Christ invites you to walk in it.

From the Ren­o­varé Explo­rations newslet­ter archives.

Originally published December 2009

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