16 May 2006

I said: THE WORLD IS TOO BIG TO LOVE

You said: LOVE IT ONE BITE AT A TIME.

Human nature is so faulty that it can resist any amount of grace and most of the time it does. The Church does well to hold her own; you are asking that she show a profit. ... It is easy for any child to pick out the faults in the sermon on his way home from Church every Sunday. It is impossible for him to find out the hidden love that makes a man, in spite of his intellectual limitations, his neuroticism, his own lack of strength, give up his life to the service of God’s people, however bumblingly he may go about it…

It is what is invisible that God sees and that the Christian must look for. Because he knows the consequences of sin, he knows how deep in you have to go to find love. We have our own responsibility for not being “little ones” too long, for not being scandalized. By being scandalized too long, you will scandalize others and the guilt for that will belong to you.

It’s our business to try to change the external faults of the Church—the vulgarity, the lack of scholarship, the lack of intellectual honesty—wherever we find them and however we can. ... In the meantime, the culture of the whole Church is ours and it is our business to see that it is disseminated throughout the Church in America. You don’t serve God by saying: the Church is ineffective; I’ll have none of it. Your pain at its lack of effectiveness is a sign of your nearness to God. We help overcome this lack of effectiveness simply by suffering on account of it.

To expect too much is to have a sentimental view of life and this is a softness that ends in bitterness. Charity is hard and endures; I don’t want to discourage you from reading St. Thomas but don’t read him with the notion that he is going to clear anything up for you. That is done by study and more by prayer.

-Flannery O’Connor

8 comments:

cruelandpretty said...

oh honey. i am there. amen.

jules said...

funny how we come back to the same lessons and the same truths over and over

Hannah said...

i know. i can resist a lot of grace !

naomi said...

AGH! I ALWAYS SAY MIDTERMS!

drat.

and yay for flannery o'connor.

cruelandpretty said...

hey, i haven't read bird by bird yet, but i read traveling mercies and plan b. she's fabulous.

Pauletta said...

i love this...
and yes, it is definitely one of the best songs ever! and i love the 4 quartets...:)
love to you

Nathan Martin said...

dear hannah,

that was beautiful

i look forward to reading flannery this summer

(and you're not getting away without watching eternal sunshine with me)

Brutes In The Halls said...

We help overcome this lack of effectiveness simply by suffering on account of it.

Yeah. There is a quiet personal solidarity that comes from suffering through things without complaint or crutch, just God and suffering and nothing else. Would that I had known it while at PHC; so many missed opportunities to experience and share grace!!

I don't understand the bit about our responsibility to change the church wherever we observe flaws. Wouldn't having a categorical M.O. like that preclude the necessity of relying on God for direction as to whether or not each observation requires action?

I mean, forget that the forest is made up of trees, if you will. You'll get a startle when you approach the forest to cut it down, finding you must approach each tree one by one. So, if we look at the church as a category, or a group of several categories, it becomes almost pointless to address the problems. People get lost in the realm of ideas, defending their ideas against someone else's ideas, like at our Alma Mater. But if you approach each person as a person who desperately needs to see Christ in you, well, that's a different thing, eh?

One bite at a time...