|I'm a sinner and you are, too.|
(Makes for a pretty good children's book title if you ask me)
It's 1 o'clock Wednesday morning and I can't go to bed. Being a usually heavy sleeper and can sleep anywhere, I take note that if I can't go to bed, it's usually a sign from God that I'm meant to do something else with my time.
Usually it's to write.
So I find myself back on my dust covered blog. Whenever I mention Catholic Fried Rice nowadays I often quote Catholic writer Peter Kreeft. Someone asked which was the most important book that he wrote. He said, "The one I didn't write when my children were young."
Teresa Francesca was born January 27, 2015 and that's around the same time I stopped writing consistently on here. I have no regrets as this year really has been filled with the joys and adjustments of being a new dad and loving it.
With that said, I feel like God is calling me back to writing. Well, at least for tonight.
So let's begin with the title: I'm a sinner.
I'm a sinner! Say it, I dare you, the reader, to say it loud, and say it like you mean it. I'm a sinner!
I went to confession yesterday, and in my prayer I kept coming back to that line, I'm a sinner, I'm a sinner, I'm a sinner, and it became so freeing to say over and over again.
The past month or so I've been told to my face by someone I trust that I am arrogant. Whew, blow. That's a whole 'nother story, but I've been doing a little digging deeper on where that really comes from:
Pride. And the desire to show that I have my shit together. Always.
I would say that I had deep, what I would call, "Facebook Mask". Anything and everything anyone posts on Facebook (I guess I'm dating myself now as youngn's are now on Snapchat, Instagram, and probably something else I'm not aware of) is usually something positive, funny, or clever. Instead of applying that mask on just Facebook, I'm usually the guy who wants to appear that way ALL the time in real life.
And the moment I let my head blow up with any hint to how great I am, I let my guard down, and I fall hard. Real hard.
Not too long ago, if I fell real hard, I literally would feel sick and wouldn't want to see anybody until I went to confession or something so people can always see me in, well, the state of grace.
That my friends, is not a healthy lifestyle. It's a facade that isn't sustainable. And actually doesn't work. [Now disclaimer, I don't want to make it appear I've been faking everyone out. No, I would say anyone's personal interactions with me one-on-one within the past couple years, you're getting genuine Matt Aujero, just a Matt Aujero who's prideful and wants you to think that he's the you-know-what.]
But yesterday, I wrote over and over again in my journal, "I am a sinner." And it was so, so freeing. I thought about the beggar in scripture, "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner." I thought about Pope Francis' answer when a reporter asked him what his identity was. He referred to one of his favorite paintings (see above) of Matthew the tax collector pointing at himself in confusion as God in the light is choosing him as if saying, "Who me?". Pope Francis' answer: "I'm a sinner."
I'm starting to guess why Pope Francis said that about himself as his truest identity. There's got to be extreme pressure to be THE Pope, THE symbol of the Catholic Church, and the temptation to show the world, yes, "I have it together."
But by saying first and foremost, "I'm a sinner" he takes all the pressure off himself, from the impossible task to appear and be perfect and redirects all the attention to the only one who does have it together: Jesus Christ.
And that is my joy of getting to say that I'm a sinner. It's not about showing people you have to be like me (hint: I used to think that was actually the answer). I'm a sinner and that's really awesome because I can actually point you to the person that completes my life and the guy who DOES have it together and can show you some things too if you like. His name is Jesus and I love Him with all my heart.
People try to give the Church a bad rap because of all the scandal and hypocrites among us. Well let me give the naysayers a hint: it's because we're all sinners! No one said we're a church of perfect people. We're all wounded looking for the doctor in the field hospital as Pope Francis would say. Or as my old brotherhood Esto Vir would say, "We're a bunch of imperfect guys striving to be the men God called us to be." Key word: striving. St. Peter strove a lot and fell a lot. Look who got the keys.
I'll end with these lyrics sang today in our chapel during Praise and Worship Eucharistic Adoration. It's one of my favorite songs, "How Deep the Father's Love" and some lines that really hit me harder than usual, especially now.
I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart-
His wounds have paid my ransom.