August 24, 2019
In my new blog, I intend to concentrate primarily on the intersection of Catholic thought, culture, law and politics. Here is a description and introduction to the blog. From time to time, I will focus on the intersection of culture and Catholic spirituality as I do today.
I have noticed recently a prevalent cultural phenomenon: the ever increasing whiteness of our teeth – both the number of folks who have entered into this new phenomenon and the quality of their white teeth. Even some of my brother priests have entered into this new phenomenon. Perhaps they see it as a means of evangelization from within – e.g. Paul’s “I have become all things to all…” Not sure that Paul meant for his teaching to be stretched to whiter teeth.
Sometimes it seems as if I am in one of those off-beat horror films. I can see those with whiter teeth almost wink and nod at each other while at the same time secretly devising plans to quarantine the rest of us who have not taken the cure. They reach the obvious consensus that our lack of white teeth offends the public good and certainly good aesthetical sense. Now mind you –this post is not meant to “teeth shame” those who have entered into this cultural trend. It would seem that whiter teeth is a good thing.
The ever increasing whiteness of our teeth, did prompt me to ponder the question: what about our souls and their quality? What if we put in a similar amount of time to increasing the quality and brightness our souls? The great St. Augustine said that our hearts our restless until they rest in the Lord. When he spoke of our hearts, he meant our entire being and our souls. Christian truth conveys that we are made by God and for God and that the hope of faith is that we rest in God for all eternity. Suffering and emptiness result when we live our lives apart from God or simply tip our toe into the water of God’s grace from time to time. I have certainly seen in my own life that happiness and fulfilment have increased proportionate to a deepening faith in God and life of prayer.
So what if we all took the soul challenge? My understanding is that the directions for white strips ask folks to apply them to your teeth thirty minutes a day for approximately twenty days. Here is my challenge to all you happy readers: work on the brightness and quality of your souls for 30 minutes a day for the next twenty days and see what results. What might this look like? Increased time in prayer, perhaps a rosary, daily Mass or spending time in Eucharistic adoration. Maybe there is a spiritual classic that you have wanted to begin reading – St. Augustine’s Confessions is always a great choice. My bet is that if you take up this challenge, good things will happen as they always do when God’s gratuitous grace meets an open heart.