Friday, December 19, 2008

Lost and Found and Saved


Here in Brighton a huge number of my people have practical experience of being "lost". Being lost through addiction to drugs, drink, sex, gambling, or being lost in lifestyle that they haven't quite chosen but have drifted into. Many are lost, and will use the term, because of something that has happened to them; abuse as a child or an adult, rape or abortion, being hurt or betrayed by a partner, all seem to drag people into a distant land far from where they would want to be and far from God. "I lost my innocence", "I lost my childhood", "I lost my self respect", I lost a sense of meaning" go along with a loss of dignity or job or family or even hope.


For those who are truly "lost", there is a real sense that they themselves are not going to "find" themselves. There is sense that love or affection might be the source of this "finding". I think that is the reason why many who in their own estimation count themselves "lost" so often find consolation in sex and sexual fantasy, but violations of the 6th Commandment only deepen a sense of being "lost". For those who get involved with a 12 Step Programme and for others too, there is sense that it is "power beyond themselves" alone, that will be source of their finding.


What is it people expect when they are "found"? It is actually about being "saved"; being in a place of safety, secure in a sense of love, a Godly all embracing love. From this comes a situation in which healing takes place, in which people "salved". The need for healing and safety are not terms which are not alien to most of my parishioners. Counselling and therapy have some effect but it is actually the encounter with God through the healing effect of the sacraments, through baptism and confirmation, through weekly or daily Holy Communion and through regular and frequent use of the Sacrament of Penance which brings safety and salving.
If Christ's priests and bishops are not true heralds of Salvation then we are indeed unprofitable servants.

13 comments:

Dorothy said...

In the early 1980s I remember reading the words of a Polish archbishop: “We all need conversion”; and he listed every stage each of us may have reached in the journey of the soul, from the person seemingly “lost” in a life of sin (but only God can see the heart) to the person who may in fact be a living saint. We are none of us as far along the road into the depths of God as He wills us to be.

Your reference to the benefit of frequent confession is most important. In the early months of the present Holy Father’s pontificate he answered various questions from children. One of them said she felt awkward about confessing the same sins over and over again. His answer was: We sweep the house every week, even though it is the same dirt.

We should never be discouraged by what seems to be a chore, or by an apparent lack of improvement when our souls, like our homes, seem determined to gather the same old film of dust. How welcoming our homes look when we have taken this trouble! But confession has this advantage over housework: the house is either dirty or clean; but even in the simplest and most repetitious of confessions, we become, imperceptibly, a more and more welcoming home for God’s grace.

sandy said...

Thank you Fr Ray.I needed that today

Fr Ray Blake said...

Dorothy,
It is new dirt, it just collects in the same place, hence we can reject the old and be sorry for it and pray that by God's Grace we will not sin again.

Jackie Parkes said...

12 step programmes can be enormously helpful initially in raising a spiritual aspect for people. Slogans such as 'one day at a time' are helpful. The whole working out of the 12 steps can be done from a Catholic angle..'Calix' is one help in this.You have a very insightful understanding of addiction fr which would be enoprmously helpful for someone coming to you for the Sacraments. True it is God's grace but we need to be practical too..

gemoftheocean said...

I think this is one of the best posts you've ever written. That's a lot of insight. Father, when you die people will be collecting scraps of paper you've touched, just so they have a relic!

Cathy said...

What you said is particularly beautiful because it is true.

I had wondered whether you would be commenting, as other sites have, on the recent interview given by a prominent figure in the Church of England and Wales. I think you did so much better by 'ignoring' that interview and choosing your own theme with its timeless truths.

Thank you Father.

George said...

Dorothy - your point about confessing the same sins again and again is all too often typical. The human condition is such that we aquire habits, some of which can be sinful, but with frequent confession and spiritual direction from the Priest we can be led closer to Our Lord. However, as one Priest told me some years ago, better to be confessing the same old sin over and over than having a whole host of new ones every time you visit the confessional!!!

Meanwhile we can all keep 'the Lost' and those seeking consolation in our prayers, especially at this time of the year. Perhaps there is something we can do individually for someone we know (even a family member) to make them feel more loved and valued. God Bless.

terry said...

Er, Gem, we hope that event you are talking about is a long long way away :)

Sadie Vacantist said...

Father ~ I sense you have been reading Holy Smoke and this is your response to one blog on there connected to an interview given by a certain bishop. Perhaps I am wrong but what you have written has made for a beautiful read in any event.

I tried to blog on HS recently but shall desist in future.

Terry Nelson said...

Oh Father, this is so good. You show such understnding and compassion. Thanks for this and pray for us.

Jane Teresa said...

Very well said, Father. Thank you. I'm praying for you down in Brighton!

Fr Ray Blake said...

Paulinus, Thank you that is greatly needed, but somethings are so wicked and destructive I will not even speak about them.

Henry said...

Yes!