Responding to a Longing Within
by Mark Votava
Growing up as a Catholic, I always thought that Christianity was about being a good moral person. I had a hard time with embracing an embodiment of communing with God as a lifestyle in everyday life as a part of the body of Christ in the place I lived. I didn’t understand longing for God. I didn’t understand the purpose of the body of Christ. If I could be good on my own, why did I need the church?
- Being a nice boy
I was the model moral kid if ever there was one most of the time in my life. I did not drink or smoke or swear. I treated others with kindness and respect. I was very quiet and shy, but I was a nice boy.
- Not responding to life out of my longing for God
One time someone at a movie theatre that I worked at asked me if I was a Christian. I told them that I was, but I really only thought being a Christian meant being a moral person where you didn’t harm anyone and were kind to others. Now this is important in life, but I was not responding to life out of my longing for God. It was only out of the way I chose to live because it made sense to me for some reason in a rational kind of way.
- Being a good moral individualist
I wasn’t much interested in the body of Christ or reflection and rest. I was an individualist, but a good moral individualist. I didn’t see anything wrong with this. I called the moral shots in my life and that’s how it was.
- Letting life respond to a longing within
I would try to read scripture out of a moral obligation to God, not out of my longing for God. There was very little longing for God within me, just a rational morality that seemed to make sense. After experiencing some depression and a loss of identity on the things I was building my life on, I came to realize that Christianity is not about a morality that I could construct. It is about cultivating a longing for my Creator and letting my life respond to that.
- For the common good of our neighbors
Morality can become a box we become trapped in if the priority is on being good over longing for God through reflection and rest. All of our life should be a response to our reflection and rest as the body of Christ in the parish. Our lack of reflection and rest will affect not just us personally, but will ultimately affect the world around us. Our reflection and rest is not to be pursued as an individual self help technique, but is for the common good of our neighbors who we live with in our locality.
How can we live out of our longing for God?