From Br. Joseph —
At some point in every faith journey, one finds him or her self taking an inventory of their core, central beliefs. Some of these beliefs are held very tightly, some loosely. The more central a belief, the more one aligns his or her identity.
Paula D’Arcy describes her seven central beliefs as certainties. These are listed below followed by some of my comments.
1) “I am certain everything is gift.”
This is the very foundation from which the first Beatitude speaks—blessed are the poor of spirit. (i.e. humility)
2) “I am certain we are entitled to nothing.”
See #1. Entitlement is an illusion that develops from one type of response to receiving gifts. (i.e. pride)
There is great freedom in realizing that one is not entitled to anything. All is gift. All comes freely from God. Why? Because God chooses to do so. God wants to; He does not need to. That is what love does. That is what love is.
With freedom comes responsibility to be good stewards of the gifts received. And with gifts comes, or should come, gratitude.
3) “I am certain the wells for pain and joy are not separate.”
See #1 and #2. This is difficult for many to accept. Not everyone can see the connection. One is not entitled to joy. And at the same time, one is not entitled to pain either.
The Buddhists say that the cause of all suffering is desire, and thus they seek to eliminate all desire. St. Ignatius of Loyola agreed that suffering comes from desire, but it is our disordered desires that cause suffering. Our drives, desires and wants, are energies given to us by God. They are gift. And because they are from God, they are good. By our re-ordering of these desires according to our priorities and our notions of happiness (not God’s), we cause dis-order and dis-ease.
4) “I am certain bitterness and healing are a choice.”
This is our response to #1, #2, and #3. You are free to choose how you respond.
5) “I am certain that running from your darkness leads to greater darkness.”
See #2, #3, and #4. Is this a definition of despair?
6) “I am certain the darkness is held ultimately by light.”
This is the source of all hope. See #1 and #7.
7) “I am certain that the words from Scripture, ‘In Him we live and move and have our being’ are not poetic; they are actual physical reality.”
Our Lady of Mercy, pray for us…