From a Bible study group, Rose Folsom discovered the value of holy unworthiness.
A deacon friend asked a devout co-worker if he had ever considered being ordained a deacon. “I’m unworthy of that,” the man replied. Unworthiness was the subject of a Bible study I attended at the beach.
A lady in the group said she had always felt she needed to be perfect before God could love her. A man said he felt discouraged in his faith because he wasn’t able to come close to the holiness he strives for.
Then someone pointed out what we pray, echoing the Centurion, at every Mass: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul will be healed.”
Do we believe it or not?
A sense of unworthiness is a good thing, because it’s true. But our enemy twists that truth to separate us from God — the original lie from the father of lies. The more we can live the whole truth of our unworthiness in the light of God’s limitless mercy (with emphasis on the mercy!), the more we’re prepared for the attacks that come every day, and especially at death — our enemy’s last chance to convince us to choose hell over heaven!
St. Louis de Montfort countered these attacks on his deathbed — his last words were “In vain do you attack me — I am between Jesus and Mary.” Only the goodness of God could protect him from the fearful memories of his own failings being hurled at him at such a vulnerable moment. Mercy must be our focus, now and always.
St. Paul writes of a God “who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” Jesus is the Truth. For us, Mercy is the ultimate reality of God and we have met Mercy incarnate.
With the look of love from his two human eyes overflowing from a human heart, mercy is no longer “out there,” but personal and immediate — always there for the asking.
The hard part in accepting mercy, though, is that it involves radical dependence on God — constantly sipping from the living water of his mercy. Constantly acknowledging that our deficits are made whole only by Him. The inability to heal ourselves by ourselves seems somehow like we’re doing something wrong. But we need to get over that and make a habit of letting God do the healing and the making up for our faults every day. St. Paul reminds us that “power matures in weakness.”
Elizabeth of the Trinity put it this way:
We must descend daily this pathway of the Abyss (the “Deep”) which is God; let us slide down this slope in wholly loving confidence. "Deep calls unto deep." It is there in the very depths that the divine impact takes place, where the abyss of our nothingness encounters the Abyss of mercy.
Copyright 2021 Rose Folsom
Image: Shutterstock, licensed by author
About the Author
Rose Folsom is founder of VirtueConnection.com, where she helps Catholics get closer to God by discovering how to practice virtues like patience and forgiveness. Join her membership group, Virtue Circle. She’s a convert and Lay Dominican who speaks, blogs, and leads retreats fueled on prayer and York peppermint patties. She and her husband, Fred, live in Silver Spring, Maryland.