I’ve written here that I want to feel sacred – and that I’m disappointed because I thought I would feel sacred by making an act of consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. But… what does sacred feel like? Is there such a feeling? What if what I’m experiencing is what sacred feels like: seeking, wanting, trying, not yet satisfied…?
There should be a sense of reverence toward a consecrated place, thing, or person. And, I wonder, shouldn’t there also be a sense of reverence that the consecrated person feels about him or her self? That feeling of being made sacred? To look upon myself no longer as my self, but as belonging entirely to God – that’s a true act of consecration. I should no longer consider my life as my own to do with whatever I wish, but, rather, as belonging to the Sacred Heart – with the inner life of Christ acting, working, through me.
In my desire to feel sacred, I must remember two things: 1.) God is Holy Other. 2.) I am not God. I am what God sanctifies, what God makes holy – at least, I can be what God makes holy if I let God do what God wants to do. Making an act of consecration to God (through any worthy kind of imagery or form, like the Sacred Heart) is making an act of surrender, so to speak. I am to hand over my person and my life to God (hand over my liberty, my intellect, my memory, my will[i]) so that God may make me sacred. So that, henceforth, my choices, my actions, and my words will be for God’s glory, for God’s ultimate plan. I dedicate myself to God’s work for God’s sake – not for my own ambition or comfort or even reward. Therefore, I seek only God’s Perfect Will – living in order that God’s Will may be accomplished through me… oh, let my spirit be willing, Lord, even if my flesh is weak!
Right now, I, human creature that I am of limited flesh and blood upon the earth, do not live purely in the presence of God, in the absence of temptation and sin. Rather, I live in the world, surrounded by distractions and worldliness, living in the weakness of my own flesh, as well as the weakness of others. If I seek only God’s Perfect Will, then I cannot be content with succumbing to temptation and sinning. If I seek only God’s Perfect Will, then I cannot be content with cruelty and injustice. If I seek only God’s Perfect Will, then I will hunger and thirst for righteousness. Christ Jesus tells us that those who do so hunger and thirst will be satisfied. He says that they will be satisfied… not that they are satisfied. For human beings to be truly blessed, to be truly happy, they will mourn and they will be persecuted for believing in Jesus Christ. These who mourn and are persecuted will be consoled and will be rewarded – their happiness, their blessedness, will be fulfilled.[ii] It is not fulfilled right here and right now. It is being accomplished. Not done yet.
And, so, if I am truly dedicated to God’s Will, if I am consecrated to the Sacred Heart and allowing the process of being made holy by God’s grace, then I am laboring, I am trying, I am wanting – and I am not there yet. I am not of the world, but I am still in the world. An Act of Consecration, or the process of being made sacred, while still in the midst of the profane is not the experience of complete peace without hunger, or joy without suffering. I shouldn’t feel satisfied and content. My faith is that I will be so fulfilled, perfectly peaceful and unceasingly joyful… This is Christ’s promise to me and I believe him. I believe in him – for this faith is my act of consecration…. God is consecrating me… here and now for eternity.
Yes, I have to stop thinking about this in terms of my gift to God. This is about God’s gift to me. What do I really have that is truly my own? I can give nothing to God. God gives everything to me. I can do nothing for God. God does everything for me… And through me. I, with the power of the Holy Spirit in me, merely use my God-given soul to acknowledge and surrender to the inevitable truth of who I am.
Even just writing this, I have more of a sense of being sacred. I am seeing with new eyes, hearing with new ears, feeling with new skin. My physical eyes, ears, and skin have not changed – but, perhaps, the attitude of my mind and spirit have changed, or, more accurately, are being changed. Continually being directed less toward self-centeredness and more toward God-centeredness (which is the reality of existence) this is coming home to truth, this is consecration. It is not something extra that I do, for then it could seem as though it were superfluous or unnecessary to life itself. I mean, why make an act of consecration at all? Why not just be like the majority of Christians and basically try to live a good life and then let God’s forgiveness handle all the rest so that I may go to Heaven? But… Consecration is profoundly and simply a recognition of the truth that is always there: I belong to God.
Everything that exists belongs to God. God is the giver. God gives the gift. Not me. With my God-given freewill, imagination and intellect, I can ignore this fact, reject this fact, or neglect this fact – but the fact remains. That which we call “God” is what always was, what always is, and what always will be. And the what is not something that we can ever detect with our tools or formulations. This Absolute, Almighty, Eternal Truth/Being is not a what but a Who. Person is the force and drive behind and within the very creation and existence of matter/energy; Person is the force and drive behind and within our expanding universe; Person is the answer to every why, whether that “why person” be Divine or human – it’s all personal. It’s all a gift.
“Life is a gift” is not something sentimental or trite, something handy but unnecessary, something superfluous to real life. It’s essential truth. God consecrates me through His divine action and I don’t ignore the package at the door waiting for me, I don’t take it away in disgust or disdain, and I don’t neglect to see it, blinded by my own self-centered thoughts or pursuits. I look for the gift and the gift finds me seeking… wanting… trying… and not fulfilled yet. God is sanctifying me…
[i] taken from a prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola
[ii] Matthew 5:3-12