St. Michael

Image courtesy of Simon Howdent/

This afternoon I read something that made me consider the difference between what is sacred and what is profane. According to Rohr (2013, Yes, and…Daily Meditations, p. 174,  Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media)  “Everything is profane if you live on the surface of it, and everything is sacred if you go into the depths of it—-even your sin.” He further states (p. 174), “To go inside your own mistakenness is to find God. To stay on the surface of very good things—like the bible, sacraments, priesthood, or church—is to often do very unkind and evil things, while calling them good” (p. 174).

One of the things I find fascinating about this man, this author, is that he is a Franciscan priest…..and, yet, he can and does often say things I would never have expected to hear from a priest.  The main reason I love this author is I know whatever he says may “shake my mind up a bit” and take my thoughts to something new and perhaps profound.

His comparison of profane and sacred is a prime example of what I’m talking about. Here is this priest saying all these holy things can be profane if used wrongly/superficially to create evil, it is instead our mistakes that can be sacred if we “go into the depth of them,” and, in so doing, we can “find God.” I feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland—-everything that was big is now small and everything that was small is now big. What I’ve been taught is sacred can actually be profane, and it is the depths of my “mistakenness” that can  actually lead me to God.

In my heart, I know he is right. I have seen too many people find God in recovery from the depths of their mistakes. My own mistakenness brought me to God. And I know he is right about the “sacred” being misused and contributing to evil; we have the Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, Salem witch trials, etc. all of which were based on “religious doctrine.”

What I find so bothersome about this new way of looking at sacred and profane is that I am suddenly aware of all the time I spend doing “superficial things”—–things like playing on the Internet, watching TV, watching NetFlix, scrolling through Facebook, reading mysteries or romance novels, etc. My list of what  might be considered profane in my life is now growing quite large.  On the other hand, parts of my life are growing in my pursuit of depth—-spiritual reading, meditation, praying, studying the Bible, centering prayer, etc. However, although I am proud of the progress I’ve made in these areas, most of the weight on my “teeter-totter” is on the profane side, and I have to start questioning why I find superficial things so appealing and addictive. I rationalize that my “mind needs a break,” “playing computer games is mind exercise,”  or “instant communication is quicker,” etc.

When I am honest with myself I know that while texting is easy and immediate there is little or no depth to it. Talking to someone face-to-face has the potential for much more depth. If we do not stop spending so much time tethered to our gadgets—-our Internet, our tablets, our laptops, our hard drives, our portable music systems, our cell phones, etc.—- maybe we will forget that human communication once had depth to it. That is a scary thought! Or maybe, it is sacred if it motivates us to dare to look at the “depth” of the danger(s) inherent in gadget communication replacing human communication.

Please comment and share your thoughts about this profane/sacred dilemma. Maybe you can help me brush it off as “much ado about nothing.” Or maybe you can help me find new depth and meaning so my teeter-totter will level out.  Enough. God bless and keep you.