The ARM of St. Michael
In The Transforming Power of Faith Pope Benedict XVI speaks of the "...exodus of coming out of ourselves, from our own certainties, from our own mental framework, to entrust ourselves to the action of God..."
These words address all 'selves', but they might also resonate especially with the inveterate sinner, the addict. The preparation to live in the fullness of life, and eventually the purity of Heaven is, for the recovering, a process, and sometimes an epic process. The infinite merits of Christ have already canceled the penalty of every sin that will ever be committed, re-opening the way to glory for all. By His mighty stores of mercy, recovery for those who want it unfolds with perfect and humbling thoroughness.
Undisrupted, addiction can lead to death, because addiction is deadly sin. The addict's personal dungeon is built over time blindly, by one who does not know what he is doing. It features the tempted 'certainty' of control over the same dull source of intoxication, and the unknowingly distorted mental framework that sustains and justifies the habit of evading the light and true self. But humans were not created for pagan idolatries, nor are we to be inferior to animals by corrupting the action of procreation with useless lusts.
Jesus' redeeming life required that He rise from death. Otherwise, evil would have won. If, by the power of Christ crucified and raised, we do not also 'die' and be raised, the demon-peddled poisons of Satan can destroy us.
From the evils that God has permitted in our lives - wounds of trauma, abuse, natural law illiteracy and moral ignorance, like Him and through Him, we are saved, through death and resurrection. Death to habitual use of intoxicants and resurrection of the pure life, a joyous sobriety that was from the beginning before the wounds, God's intention for us all along, a life of freedom, to be what we can best be, which is in the will and heart of the Father.
During the Christmas season, we contemplate a convergence of meanings in Mary's delivery of the Babe in the cave-stable.
From the dung heap he lifts up the poor to seat them with nobles and make a glorious throne their heritage.
Advent reading from - 1 Samuel 2
God, Maker of Creation, incarnates as a human baby in an animal shelter, with its dilapidation, cold stones, acrid manure and rough straw. God the Immaculate Infant comes to touch the earth to make it clean. He starts in a place 'furthest' away. Just as the waters of baptism, far from the temple, were sanctified by His obedience, letting them touch His spotless being in the Jordan, making all waters on earth able to effect the same adoption unto God, Christ sanctifies too the unclean wastes and sin caves of earth to cleanness by His carnation.
He goes before us. This is the truth. God shall raise all the lowly and seat them with princes. Nothing is impossible for Him and nothing can stop our transformation from dying to old creature self and rising to new, spiritual life as a son of God, except lack of faith, lack of asking, and lack of patience for its grace.
Paul in Romans speaks: Know you not, that all we who are baptized in Christ Jesus, are baptized in His death? Dom Eugene Boylan in This Tremendous Lover: Our Lord has lived your life for you. He has died this death for you; addiction is already dead,on His cross. Death, and the dying of deadly habits, has been thoroughly touched by God Himself in the humanity of Christ crucified. We are grafted upon the dying Christ, by faith and baptism, which make us participators in this death of the false. Through baptism, freedom becomes a certainty. Through faith, freedom is the gift awaited expectantly and fully realized.
At Baptism God restores to us, through the merits of Christ, the supernatural life that we lost through the sin of Adam; but He does not take away the weaknesses, especially that of concupiscence, which remains as a result of Adam's fall (Dom Boylan). The concupiscence left in us are three: of the flesh (sinful sexuality); of the eyes (idolatries & human bonds that want to obviate The one perennial bond with God); and of the pride of life (resentment of God's ways and authority). All of these make conformity to the Divine Will, and freedom, more difficult.
God can and will and has already exacted the power to transform all of our wounds, sufferings and slaveries into meaning and purpose. All things, even yes,your sins! (St Augustine). He is perfectly prepared to repair our life completely if we do not prevent Him. There is no moment in our life, in which we cannot turn to Him and find in Him not only the perfect complement of our self, no matter how much we have lost, but also the perfect restoration of all our past. For He is God and He is our Savior. (Dom Boylan)
Can what is desired be named? Do we believe He can grant the spoken wish and never stops doing this for as long as we seek it and ask? Return to 'way' number one frequently! Contemplate it anew. Dare to ever believe it! Never give up! Do not be discouraged! Persevere, persevere, persevere!
Deliverance by grace demands our cooperation (Dom Boylan). We could call part of our cooperation "the laundry". During our deliverance, the Lord permits moments of purification, such as grief over life wounds and fear-based choices. Marvelously, all penitential sadness and suffering can help free others when it is offered up with 'good thief' contrition.
There is the cross of our recovery, which is often a carrying of the awful memory of the sinful, damaged past which seems not to entirely leave us, but makes its shadow felt at times - consciously,subconsciously and unconsciously. Mental echoes of sin and affliction can tempt us to become confused, as if they announce that little or nothing of our disorder has disappeared or changed. We pull out the sword of prayer and the shield of faith to "put out the burning arrows of the evil one" insidiously timed to make us lose heart. We respond in faith, "you are a liar Satan, God does not disfavor his faithful, the sinful past is dead, the power of God is in me and it is stronger than you!" An 'owned' resisting response of prayer to these lies will win us a restoring in grace the memory of all that God has done for us, by the power of Christ.
God doesn't make every step into sobriety and recovery, a gratuitous or capricious bequest or without trace of any cost to us. God gives us a way to manfully partake in our own deliverance. To every repentant sinner God offers an opportunity for acts of love that will supply for the failures of the past (Dom Boylan). Difficult as this sometimes may be, we go on, confessing our broken spirit and praying for the grace we do not yet seem to possess. We must go forward always in hope, because the gift of Heaven, if God so grants, will go far beyond all of our feeble calculations to square the reward with the burden born.
If Jesus said prostitutes and tax collectors were entering the Kingdom before some proud men of high religion; we have clear hope in the Word Who will bring to us what all addicts think is impossible or unthinkable. But we have to die with Him. A big part of that for us is dying to intoxication. We hope and pray in His invincible, inviolable "Yes, I want it. I do will it. Be made clean."
Father, we turn to you in all things, grant us the gift of final perseverance, to endure in recovery by loving submission to your plan. Save us from self-love and pride as we make our way toward the fullness of your promise by cooperating with your perfect will of our restoration. Amen.