March 23, 2010
By Sean McPherson *

By Sean McPherson *

“It is better to limp along the right path than to walk strongly in the wrong direction.” ~ St. Thomas Aquinas

I recently read this quote from St. Thomas Aquinas in the school newspaper. When I read it, I thought I understood its meaning: to continue to walk along the right path even when we are not yet perfect. While my initial response was correct in part, I think I missed the boat on what St. Thomas Aquinas was truly aiming at. I did not think about how I could actually live this out in daily life. However, after thinking about it for a while, I realized that Aquinas’s quote directly challenges the pride of every individual. It calls us to surrender our ideals for God’s.

For me, the first ideal that Aquinas’s wise words broke down for me was my perfectionism. By perfectionism, I do not mean my desire to be “perfect as [my] heavenly father is perfect.” Rather, I am referring to the perfectionism that prevents me from seeing myself as I truly am: weak without God. I always have a limp, an inclination to sin, that cannot be healed or fixed through my own power. Sometimes I might imagine that the limp is not there. Usually, that means I am walking down the wrong path because the limp only occurs when I am walking up to the summit of God. By realizing that I am not perfect by myself, then my wounds can actually be healed by God.

After recognizing my own weakness, I also discovered that, in order to be healed by God, I must rid myself of my pride. I cannot allow myself to be embarrassed by having others see my limp, my weaknesses. If this is not the case, my ideal is to have no shame. This does not mean for me to carelessly speak about struggles. What it does mean is to be real with myself in conversations with others so that true friendships can be developed. If I spend all of my time trying to hide who I am, chances are few people will ever know who I really am, and vice versa. If I am not afraid of any shame of the past, then people will be able to see my desire to love God. It is this desire to love God that is more powerful than anything else in building Christian community.

Being real with God and with others in our failings will help make all of our relationships more genuine because others will be able to help us carry our burdens. Most importantly, this will allow us to actually let go of our wounds completely. Those wounds will always be there, but they will have been surrendered to God, who will hold them as long as we desire.  When this happens, any road God calls us to take will be feasible, no matter how weak and battered we are, because we know that ultimately, the fight has already been won.

Sean McPherson is a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame, where he is studying chemical engineering and theology.
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