The ARM of St. Michael
Perfectionism and sloth are each rooted in disguised pride, both serious obstacles in the Christian journey. Remembering Isaiah 58, prayerful responses to each of these mortal weaknesses can help heal addiction fast as anything else. We know from Scripture that obedience is more valuable to our Father than sacrifice.
The Gospel this week shares the story of the man blind from birth given the gift of his sight. Blindness affects all of us in different ways but especially addicts. The recovering need new eyes to see things and situations as they truly were and are. We need to be shown our blind spots, and the fine deceptions we have agreed to, wittingly and unwittingly.
Recovery may seem to become at times a task too consuming, and understandable from a perspective that has seen a longtime of unfreedom, ever crying out to be unbound. But we don't want to become addicted to recovery too. Eventually there is the vista beyond "recovery" and to love and serve God and all those entrusted to our care.
Perfectionism in its most severe form, is not merely the unreasonable insistence that the faultlessly completed task is the only acceptable one. Perfectionism can be the petulant demand that I be made safe from incompetency or mistake-making before I will embark upon the task God now voices for the direction in my life. This is not faith at all, but fearful, cowardly manipulation.
It is often quoted that God does not call the qualified, but qualifies the called. Alternately from the story of the ten lepers, it is learned that they were healed as they went. Each suggests unambiguously that we are not going to be fashioned into a perfect tool before the work of new life begins. Rather, as it was ever before and still remains, the work given will perfect us as we go.
How sadly forgotten is the memory of childhood crossings which are not capable of putting pre-conditions on the passage through experiences, but that so beautifully and transparently live unaware of all conditionalism. Here's something to help shape our Lenten prayers: restoration of trust in God and freedom from the neurosis of mincing preconditions and self-preferences! Praying for humility is always a good idea too!
Sloth is similar, commonly viewed as laziness. But sloth identifies more fully the stalling to seize opportunities that call us forth to become more than we already are. Sloth is the procrastination of holy destiny undergirded blindly by the fear of mistakes, pain, suffering and consumption of self in realizing the work of our Lord and the full realization of our true selves.
We need the grace of God to undo all these knots we have created, where fear has taken hold in too many places, and helped cause us to be addicted to control and ourselves. Is it any surprise that underneath our addiction there might be layers of fear of becoming who I can or should become? This writer pleads guilty! It is not indefinite recovery that our God has in mind, but a new life of outwardly directed charity that will reward with a harvest of true happiness.
As wounded ones we need to pray for healing of our blindness to His true love, providence and comforting assurance. We need healing from allergic reactions to health and responsibility. We need deliverance from the lie that says once we get a divine instruction we have to then fulfill the mission out of our own power and resources.
He is always with us and we can do nothing without Him. He will not give us to do what is beyond our strength. Grace comes through the sacraments, staying close to Him in frequent prayer, letting Him give us all that will be needed to accomplish His will. He doesn't want us to live anymore agony or unhappiness, but a life that will bear joy.
Holy God, you know all before it is asked, forgive us for our wounded pride, as souls crippled with self-fixation. Free us from the burdens of conditional love and restore us to the beautiful promise of trusting, freely giving children, that hearing Your voice we can respond not with dread but with joy and peace. Through Jesus, Amen.