Number 1 Hypocrite

Last night I had a very interesting discussion with a friend that left me thinking long after our conversation ended. The context of our talk spoke to marital and paternal responsibilities, fidelity to Christ versus a spouse and/or children, and hypocrisy, especially when concerned with apologetics and evagelization.

Perhaps what struck me most was the charge from my friend that I am hypocrite. This strikes at my very core not because I am completely clear of the charge but rather that there an element of truth of my own hypocrisy and in hers.

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Allow to expound by first looking at the definition of the word. Dictionary.com defines hypocrite as follows:

  • a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, esp. a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.

  • a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, esp. one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.

  • As I mentioned before, there is some truth in my friend’s charge. The root of this charge stems from her contrasting what I often write, say and make claim to believe concerning the Church and Christ. What she does fail to realize is that I never, intentionally anyway, personified myself as an individual whose life is the model for Christian virtue and Church obedience. On the contrary, any person who spends time speaking with me will come to know that my life is far from it. This is something I am not afraid to admit.

    These failures are my own and demonstrate the need of God’s constant grace and mercy in my life. I often use my own life as a comparison for others with whom I speak about the Faith. Often their situations for accepting God’s Grace through the sacraments and reconciling with Him seem far less grave than my own.

    Let me try to make this a bit clearer. Over that last couple of years I have been working on reconciling myself with Christ through His Church – His prescribed means. There have been many obstacles in my path and I placed them there knowingly or not. Tasking primacy is my invalid marriage because of a lack of proper Canonical form or approved dispensation of said form (Canon 1108). It was only after I answered the call from the Holy Spirit that I realized the grave sin I committed – out of love no less. To the credit of my guardian angel and the Holy Spirit, despite my own failure to listen, I had some strange feeling well before my wedding day that I was making a mistake by marrying outside the Church. I even expressed as much to my father. Needless to say, I went on.

    The fact that I was unaware of my sin when I married made it less than “mortal.” As Bishop Fulton Sheen says in his book Life of Christ, referring to passages such as Luke 23:34, “It is not wisdom that saves: it is ignorance!” Once I found out what I had done my venial sin became an ongoing mortal sin as I initially did nothing to correct the matter. Rather, I fled under cover of darkness by self manifested fear. The correct course of action would have been to seek the light of Grace by faith which I obviously did not exhibit in its fullest sense. This is where I find myself today, praying for grace in patience and listening as God’s own pace differs from my own and His voice can be crowded out by our desire to ignore it. As a fine priest once told me, “You must learn to listen to God. Learning to listen to God will improve your ability to listen elsewhere.”

    I am not certain whether speaking to people about the faith while remaining in a state of mortal sin (haven’t been able to make a sacramental confession) would qualify me as a hypocrite but if it does then I am guilty. Personally, I find that no man can truly gauge their heart in the matter of faith. This is why Jesus warns us against judging others because, as humans, our own sight is not clear (Mt 7:3-4, Lk 6:41, cf 1 Cor 4:3-5). Thus only God is capable of knowing our hearts (Ps 138:1, Luke 16:15, Acts 1:24, Rm 8:27, Rev 2:23 Depending on the translation, Psalms 138:1 may correlate to 139:1). I say this not in my defence but as a reminder to myself and others that we should never cease at “work[ing] out [our] salvation with fear and trembling (Pp 2:12)” remembering that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rm 3:23).” Well, except Jesus and Mary of course.

    It dawns on me as I write that I remain in awe of God because if it were not for Him allowing certain things to occur in my life, then I would not be so zealous an advocate of Christ and His Church. Simply put, there is nothing that happens in your life that is not for your own good. The choice is upon you to accept this (suffering and all) in faith or pity yourself and remain in the darker recesses of your soul.

    I do not express these types of things about my life to everyone just because. There is no need to publicize all of the woes in your own life lest someone think that you are seeking pity when what you seek is compassion and their intersession. That is where the misconception comes into play that anyone who speaks or advises others concerning faith and morals is a potential hypocrite if not one already. Perception is personal, truth is universal.

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