04 November 2010

What Bugged Me

As I mentioned earlier, the sign at the Unitarian Universalist Church this morning bugged me.  It went something like this, "All Souls are Saints," or something mighty darn close.

Originally I figured it was just an oversensitivity to what might be considered a pun on the Catholic Church's teachings about salvation and redemption.  Were the Unitarians sticking their finger in our eyes?  Is that what bugged me?

Upon reflection, my Catholic protectionism was not, in fact, what had kicked in.  Rather, I think it was my reaction against a presumption all too common within the dialectic of Christianity these days.  By saying "All souls are saints," we are not merely suggesting that the persons to my left and right are saints.  We are necessarily suggesting that we too are saints.  I find the doctrine of salvation for all based solely on existence to be selfish at its very core.

This isn't to say that all cannot experience salvation.  I think the true hope of any Christian is for the salvation of all mankind.  However, to presume that is deifying one's own wishes and desires.  If salvation is freely given by God, then it is up to Him to declare all souls to be saints and not for the souls to claim such a great distinction for themselves.

What exactly am I getting at here?  I think it is this: I do not find myself assured of my own salvation.  I find my own spiritual life to be on the skids when I begin to believe so.  I need grace -- freely given to be sure.  What also must happen, and herein lies the rub, is my own openness to that grace.  Ah yes -- Lord, save me from the sin of presumption.  (And church signs.)


The Expatriate said...

And do you know what I find offensive? Catholics who think they have the right to dictate what people in other religions believe and say.

alannah said...

I enjoy your blog, MTJ. I find it inspiring.
However, I think a bit differently from you about the surety of our salvation.
God is my loving Father, and I feel very safe with him. I believe my salvation is assured unless I deliberately reject him. (or her!)

mtjofmcap said...

@ Expatriate: I fear you took my comments as pejorative or didactic. I meant them as neither. I attempted a personal reflection on my own hope and fears regarding salvation.

@ Alannah: I understand your point, but perhaps I find God to be slightly more exacting. I recall the Merton prayer: Just because I think I'm doing your will, does not mean that I am actually doing so. I think that is the particular feeling that I was attempting to articulate.

Thanks to the both of you for reading and commenting!