Still On The Road*

In a magazine interview from 1989, Sister Joan was asked: "Why do some people in the peace movement seem to lack inner peace and become more oppressor than peacemaker? Has this been your experience — maybe even in yourself?" She answered:

“Oh, always in myself. The more I pray, the more I realize that it’s in myself that the demon lives most comfortably. But that’s the mystery of the Christian life. People will always be challenged where they’re most committed. I think it’s the same in marriage: here you have this sacramental relationship, and you’re chagrined that the relationship often looks like it’s in shards. It’s hard to accept, but sometimes the thing you do least well is love the person you say you love the best.

Instead of looking at it as an opportunity for conversion, however, there’s the temptation to throw in the towel and say, ‘Look at me, I’m such a hypocrite.’ But it should be, ‘No. Look at me, I’m a struggling Christian. Look at me, I know where the sin of the world begins.’ I think that is why the Agnus Dei is such a beautiful prayer: ‘Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us.’ Have mercy on us, because we know where the sins of the world are coming from.

But I also think — and I want to emphasize this — that when a person goes into something with that kind of total Christian commitment, they’ve got to contend with the demonic. The demonic is precisely where I do not expect to find it. It’s in me or the parish or the church; it exists in the thing that means most to me, and it exists there in order to obstruct me. The reality of the demonic can lead to disillusionment, despair and defection.

To counter that I’ve learned to love it, accept it, expect it. I say to myself, ‘Hey, I’m still on the road to being a better Christian.’ Moreover, the church is still on the road, the parish is still on the road, we’re all still on the road.”

*Excerpted from Vision & Viewpoint by Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister

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