Holiness: The One Thing Left Untried by America's Faltering, Humanized Church

To little or no avail has America's faltering, humanized Christian Church tried every contemporary innovation from accommodation to evolutionary science and ordination of practicing homosexuals to the latest and greatest church-growth schemes, "new" contemplative prayer, Enneagrams, rock 'n' roll worship, signs and wonders, self-gratifying programs, and cheap grace. 

The one thing it has not tried is holiness:

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matt 5:8)

"But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear....And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood And your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken falsehood, Your tongue mutters wickedness.…" Isaiah 59:1-3, King James

"And the nations will know that the people of Israel went into exile for their sin, because they were unfaithful to me. So I hid my face from them and handed them over to their enemies, and they all fell by the sword" Ezekiel 39:23

"Then they will cry out to the LORD, but he will not answer them. At that time he will hide his face from them because of the evil they have done." Micah 3:4 

“The biggest obstacle we have to understanding the Word of God is our sin.” Fr. Francis Martin 

 "If you say, “Show me your God,” I will say to you, “Show me what kind of person you are, and I will show you my God.” … God is seen by those who have the capacity to see him, provided that they keep the eyes of their mind open. All have eyes, but some have eyes that are shrouded in darkness, unable to see the light of the sun. Because the blind cannot see it, it does not follow that the sun does not shine. The blind must trace the cause back to themselves and their eyes. In the same way, you have eyes in your mind that are shrouded in darkness because of your sins and evil deeds. A person’s soul should be clean, like a mirror reflecting light. If there is rust on the mirror his face cannot be seen in it. In the same way, no one who has sin within him can see God. But if you will you can be healed. Hand yourself over to the doctor, and he will open the eyes of your mind and heart. Who is to be the doctor? It is God, who heals and gives life through his Word and wisdom … If you understand this, and live in purity and holiness and justice, you may see God. But, before all, faith and the fear of God must take the first place in your heart, and then you will understand all this. When you have laid aside mortality and been clothed in immortality, then you will see God according to your merits." (From the book addressed to Autolycus by Saint Theophilus of Antioch, bishop)

One of the greatest gospels is of the man born blind:

 "At a pivotal moment, Jesus smears the man’s eyelids with clay and sends him to wash in the pool of Siloam. The man returns able to see. When asked how he came to see, he replies, in effect, “I went, I washed, and now I see.” This is baptismal theology even if in seminal form. We cannot see until we are washed. In the end it is baptism, confession, and a holy life by God’s grace that give the greatest light." (Msgr. Charles Pope, Archdiocese of Washington, 3-19-15)

One of the Fathers of the Church, St. Cyprian, experienced the holy vision that only baptism and holiness (I went, I washed, and now I see) bring:

"And I myself was bound fast, held by so many errors of my past life, from which I did not believe I could extricate myself. I was disposed therefore to yield to my clinging vices; and, despairing of better ways, I indulged my sins … But afterwards, when the stain of my past life had been washed away by means of the waters of rebirth, a light from above poured itself upon my chastened and now pure heart; afterwards, through the Spirit which is breathed from heaven, a second birth made of me a new man. And then in marvelous manner, doubts immediately clarified themselves, the closed opened … and what had been thought impossible was able to be done (Letter to Donatus, 4)

Individually and corporately, the Church with an unclean heart is one that our Lord not only withdraws his gracious presence from but neglects its prayers.  Only with a clean heart does He listen and bring His church into a more spiritually healthy and thriving condition with a further blessing of holy vision so that what has been in the darkness of ignorance and futility comes into the light of His wisdom.

@Linda Kimball