Today Franciscans around the world celebrate the Feast of the Stigmata, remembering the wounds of Christ imprinted on the body of St. Francis. The event is symbolic of Francis’s life. He suffered greatly and was profoundly misunderstood but his unwavering commitment to a God of unconditional love marked his life. Saints are not made in stain-glass windows. They are forged in the fires of rejection, displacement, perseverance and darkness because God is being born within. To live in Christ is to bear the weight of the world in evolution. – Ilia Delio

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV):

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

When we look back on our life, we may feel again the pain of how things used to be. But we know that our life doesn’t ever have to be as difficult as it once was. It never has to be as out of control, as unmanageable, as terrifying. It isn’t nec essary for our addiction to haunt us at every turn. Time has moved on, as it must. The past is over and we’ve begun to know real safety.

The shadow never knows

The less aware we are of our shadow self, the more damage it will do. Church teachings on repentance, confession, and forgiveness make good sense. At some point we must say to at least one person: “My name is Joe, and I’m an alcoholic” (or a sex addict, or a workaholic, or an unloving man). Bring it out of darkness, and “everything that becomes visible is light” (Ephesians 5:14).

That’s what we mean by making friends with the shadow. The hero in the Holy Grail stories was advised not to kill the Dark Knight but to make friends with him. It took me years to comprehend this, but now I wonder if there is any other way to overcome evil except to make it work for you and get it on your side. That’s what Jesus did on the cross by making his own murder the salvation of the world. He didn’t destroy his killers, but forgave them because “they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). The shadow never knows what it is doing.

Richard Rohr