What defines Spiritual Authority?

Light of truth

The Catholic Church is facing a crisis of moral leadership. We have innumerable holy and upright priests, bishops and religious men and women in the Church. But a few rotten apples are enough to create a crisis. It will pass away. Socrates distinguished himself as the “inventor of morality,” wrote Hegel. By way of inventing morality, Socrates posits the individual as the ultimate locus of moral authority. ‘The ten words’ given to Moses and broken by him reflect the essential content of the fundamental law of Sinai. “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” (Jer 31:33-34).

Personality is a Judeo-Christian invention as the imago Dei, the image of God; the locus of morality and Truth. The New Testament calls human body the temple of the Holy Spirit. Quoting Jesus Christ, Tolstoy said, “The Kingdom of God is within You.” As the term implies, “Christian morality” is linked to Christ. More importantly, Jesus models for His disciples how to live. However, the aim of Jesus’ instruction is not simply right living or even happiness, but, rather the fullness of life experienced in the communion of divine love. Union with God is the goal of human existence. Indeed, it is the original state of human beings. Christian morality, therefore, is less an ethical system and more a school of love. Its master is Jesus Christ. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14:6). “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” (Lev 19:2); “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48).

It is with this awareness that Peck wrote in his introduction to the People of the Lie the following words: “In a letter to her sister, Saint Theresa of Lysieux wrote, “If you are willing to serenely bear the trial of being displeasing to yourself, then you will be for Jesus a pleasant place of shelter.” To define a “true Christian” is a risky business. But if I had to, my definition would be that a true Christian is anyone who is “for Jesus a pleasant place of shelter.”

Sokolowski said: “We can be happy as human beings only by cultivating our veracity into truthfulness, not by developing it into either truthfulness or Machiavellian dishonesty. And failing to develop our veracity is not just one of the ways we can be unsuccessful as human beings; it is the way in which we fail and make ourselves false, that is, unreal as what we are…. It is in us because of what we are, not because we have chosen it…. It is very deep in us, more basic than any particular attempt to find things out, and more fundamental than any act of telling the truth in others. We are made human by it, and it is there in us to be developed well or badly. Our exercise of it are indicated by the declarative use of the first person pronoun.” This is achieved in lives through the agency of the Holy Spirit. C.S. Lewis brazenly referred to this as “a good infection” that now germinates within the intimacies of humanity, enabling people “to live the new life of adopted children of God.” All of this was accomplished for the glory of God.

Priests, religious men and nuns, bishops all are called to leadership in the Church. But some forget the nature of leadership. There are priests and bishops who enter real estate business, political arena of power and influence. Unfortunately some seem to live in the kitchen of political parties. They are feared and revered because of their political clout and power of institutional influence and money power. Their bishopric and priesthood is in the habit they wear conveniently covering up their power mongering. They unfortunately live a double life of pharisaic scandal. They are the ones who have fallen to the last Temptation of doing the right things for the wrong reasons!

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