Saint Scholastica: the twin sister of Saint Benedict. Both established monastic houses within a few miles of each other. Both dedicated their lives to God and gave top priority to deepening their relationship with him through prayer. They sacrificed some of the opportunities they would have had to be together as brother and sister in order better to fulfil their vocation to the religious life. And yet, in coming closer to Christ, they found they were also closer to each other. In joining a religious community, they didn’t forget their family but rather found more brothers and sisters. As religious, we are called to do the same.
We all know how Adam and Eve felt after they disobeyed God. They felt guilty. They realized that they were naked and they tried to cover themselves with foliage. But it must have been something more than guilt they felt. Not only did they try to hide their mistake; they tried to hide themselves. They didn’t want God to see them at all. So along with guilt, they experienced the related, yet even stronger feeling of shame.
Shame can do the same thing to us that it did to Adam and Eve. It’s the feeling that tells us, ‘You’re no good’. Shame gets at who we are, not just what we’ve done. Instead of motivating us to fix our problems, shame makes us believe we are the problem, and that we’ll just never be good enough. As such, shame is the devil’s ultimate weapon. In his ongoing quest to drive us away from God, the devil always tries to convince us that we have no hope of receiving God’s mercy.
What a contrast to the way God sees us. God is the very perfection of love, and he wants to shower us with that love. He sent his Son into the world so that we could be free from our sins and never again feel that we have to hide from him. When Our Lord died on the Cross and the veil of the Temple was torn in two, we were invited back to the Garden of Paradise. We were offered another chance at eternal life.
Every day, God calls us to draw closer to him. Let us be confident in knowing that He will bring to completion the good work he has begun in us.