Jesus warned to not be like the scribes and Pharisees, “For they preach but they do not practice,” another way of looking at that, “practice what you preach.” Likewise, many of us can think of at least one example in our lives, either now or in the past, when this could be said about us.
Oddly, as I read these words, I thought of something I am far more guilty of, “I practice but I do not preach,” or in other words, “Do as I do, not as I fail to say.”
After years of being away from the Church, my husband and I felt drawn back around 1993. We were active in Church activities, but my faith was still very much on the surface. In 2004, I joined a bible study which transformed my relationship with God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Through the study of God’s Holy Word, my heart was opened to living a life of faith not just for one hour on Sundays but every moment of every day.
Overtime, I shed my Pharisee ways, of having the appearance of being a woman of faith – with my collection of cross necklaces, rosary beads hanging from my rearview mirror, and touting my faithful Mass attendance (there in body but not really in mind and spirit).
Now, I own one cross, it is a crucifix; it has been blessed on Padre Pio’s relic, and it never comes off. Those rosaries are still in my car but now they are prayed as I drive. Recognizing that the Liturgy is a foretaste of Heaven that this is Jesus – body, blood, soul and divinity — I am fully present and eternally grateful for it. I come to love the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul and strength.
In addition, the music I choose praises God. The books I read, teach me more about Him and my Catholic faith. Even the TV and movie choices I make are done with my deep-seated beliefs in mind. My life is ordered to God, as best I can – though not perfectly because I am not perfect.
Though I pray my life clearly shows my love of God, my devotion to the Catholic faith, and my acceptance of Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I often wonder if I do it loud enough so as to a witness, particularly to my children. Have I just made assumptions that they are catching the faith, instead of being attentive to teaching it to them? Do I practice not just in deed but in word and deed?
I will pray and ask the Lord to make it clear when it has become necessary to use words, and to guide those words. All the while asking for the grace to strike that heavenly balance between living as to witness but also to remain humble, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”