Lent, Day 27, St. Bernard cont’d

Well, the next sections of selections from Bernard’s “Grace and Free Choice” didn’t have much for me to work with.  The chief point in these sections have to do with the fact that Free Choice is a given and cannot be lost ever.  The other two freedoms can be lost or their effect diminished by our making the wrong choices and sinning.  Bernard also emphasizes that those freedoms we have access to through grace and through the saving action of Jesus.

As a Unitarian I have trouble with the idea of savior — I don’t think there is only one way to enlightenment, or to “salvation.”  I do not believe that it is impossible for a Jewish person or one following the path of Islam or the Tao, or a Buddhist to attain enlightenment or come to something that might be called salvation.  The idea of God (or for me, the world or nature) as a backdrop always extending an invitation to us (what I see as “sanctifying grace”) must be open to all.  Otherwise it makes no sense.  For the religions we follow are often an accident of birth.  Born into a Muslim family, or Jewish family, or Buddhist family, one is likely to follow those paths.  Certainly my own Unitarianism, even as a Unitarian atheist (albeit one who likes religious metaphors which are often theist), is very much colored by my own Catholic upbringing, which makes me very sensitive to Lent, and to Lent as a time of reflection;  likewise, it leads me to look at the works of Catholic Saints, who still have a hold over me.  And the idea that one is punished for one’s upbringing seems misguided at best.

I do think that we can dull ourselves to whatever sense of joy and beauty seem to emanate from the world around us.  We can harden our hearts and look at the world as a battlefield where we must be soldiers and fight, or die.  And that would be the wrong path, but that is not an path I would want to follow.

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