The ARM of St. Michael
An unclean thought crosses my mind. I reject it and direct my attention elsewhere or surrender it to God immediately or ask a deliverance prayer such as In the name of Jesus I renounce the spirit of unclean thought and command it to leave immediately and quietly. This is not sin.
An unclean thought crosses my mind. I look at it for a moment, and then reject it. I have tasted the tempting thought. This consent, even if only brief, is venial sin, which does not require confession, but is not harmless either. We confess this indiscretion at Mass or make an act of contrition at home, signing ourselves with holy water; the stain is thus removed and therefore any 'next foothold' into greater darkness also.
An unclean thought crosses my mind. I accept it. I neglect to surrender my weakness to God. This is beginning of obsession, and this is where our Lord informs us that desire for self intoxication is mortal sin even before acting out. We need confession now in close proximity to Mass.
An unclean thought crosses my mind. I freely fixate on it and respond in kind by deliberately engaging the imagination or lay the track for even more grave choices or actually act out in compulsion. We are unquestionably now in the realm of mortal sin. The exorcism called confession is critical to interrupting further descent, which may bring the hearing of voices, feelings of an intruder taking over ones thoughts, loss of the spirit of prayer and compassion, replaced by a dark, monstrous, and tedious spirit of self.
None of the above bears any resemblance to actual sexuality. It is a broken biological feedback loop of the mind. It is addiction to an aberrant, intoxication mechanism inside our body's distorted condition.
Being occupied against our will of good sense, we cry out in helplessness, for God's mercy and deliverance. Run at the first sign of weakness to our God! As we draw near to Christ in our incapability, He draws near to us with strength. This is the whole of life on earth for poor sinners: boasting in our poverty so that God can be the riches of all that we desperately need; strength, endurance, perseverance, desire for inner rectitude.
Addiction shows us what happens when we run to Satan for help, the terrible madness of escalation which will become at some point completely unstoppable as the vice-demon takes possession. We will literally see right sense and hard-earned wisdom fly out the window.
Ours is culpability, but not to judge or condemn our selves for failure. Yet that seems more common than not. We are loath to forgive ourselves as quickly as God does. Nay, we are often harder on ourselves than God.
But God knows and once sin is confessed He will forget it forever. That is worth dwelling on. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Christ came to set man free from the tyranny of the Devil and the hapless state of not knowing what we do. We cannot save ourselves. We need a Savior. The Savior has completed the work. The Infinite merit of the work has been attained through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Our Father loves His children. We do not understand how much He loves. He knows we are weak and that "a mere creature can do nothing" to stop the stupidity. The amazing fact is He loves us just as we are, right where we are, right now. It is hard to believe, but true. It is our mistake to not let God love us and save us in our frailty. We might prefer to be a "meritorious" child and then we will believe He loves us for good reason. But He loves us well before that.
Despite our history, our imperfections, our frailties, our sins, we are and will always be, unconditionally acceptable to God. We can forget sometimes that He made us. God neither makes junk nor abandons his handiwork, ever.
Scrupulosity is the phenomenon of exaggerated self-judgment, secretly rooted in resentment and insult that we are where we are. Fallen, we think we are "horrendous" "abominable" "too unclean". We think He abandons us or that He rightly should or must. This is an addict mistake, to exclude himself from God's unsearchable care. We have only to get up and come to Him and say "Papa, I fell".
In our wounds and human limitation, we are especially acceptable to God. Truly in need, we are perfect candidates for His mercy and help. Father helps the one in need. He is the only one who can pull us out of the water, working for us, never tiring, never giving up, who is love.
God is patient. If all seven demons were driven instantly out, if God dropped into our lap complete freedom today, what would we do then?Where can we go next if perfection is already ours?The enigma of arrival would mean there is no more voyage, no more purification to complete.Our true lot in recovery is the journey.
Healing from God is perfect, entailing a gentle, masterful reweaving of the very fabric of our deep distortions. The quick new patch on the old cloak does not work. What the Lord has in mind for us is a cosmic, integral healing.
Our journey is an ascending spiral, the orbits coming round again to a familiar 'neighborhood' - dread associations, risky conditions, history's voices. Suggested by the devil, the addict's flatland view sees only the going around in a circle as though stuck in the dead past. In truth, as long as we are praying and hoping with faith, we are always gently rising, and it takes time to see how imperceptibly this is happening.
God is a physician.The procedure is done right, thoughtfully, slowly, carefully, because we are not cloak fabric, we are living beings. Nor will He yank the barbed wire from the heart of our oaktree. The tenderness is in the slowness, the mercy His patience. We submit ourselves to the reality that He is unfolding the road of repair. He builds that road as we go. We are healed on the way like the lepers, gently but surely, so that the enormity of a blessed, healed life will preach God's kingdom brilliantly.
Yes, this tries our human patience. Impatience is again shown as a stumbling block, a refusal to let God be His greatness, to orchestrate His majestic art of salvation in us, which is already secure, is being made secure and will be made secure. We must be humble. He is unfolding something bigger than our minds and being can grasp: a work only years can detect.
An artist in England made a sculpture so big that one is not able to see the whole work from any position. The phenomenon of our healing is like this, it eludes one easy frame of reference or quick exit. It simply exceeds us. It far exceeds us. Our life exceeds us. Our wounds exceed us. Our healing exceeds us. But His power is perfected in our weakness. Our work is to surrender every time we meet our absence of strength.And so it goes until we are better, saying no before the escalation, surrendering it all to God. With each cycle, affliction is less deep, less intense.
Lastly, we ponder the depth of our biggest disorder. Addiction itself is and becomes a wound. If we have waited for several decades to address our uncontrollable intoxicating or destructive behaviors, that is perhaps more the problem than the original wounds of trauma or abuse. Here again, we surrender all to God and ask Him to heal the wound we see after scouring our entire biography, the wound of addiction.
Dear God, help us to see the simplicity of our task, to choose life instead of "me and my broken mind" in every moment, and grant us the irrevocable desire for life, virtue, and Your will. Jesus, in the time of our wound still not entirely healed, help us always to light a candle of hope and not to curse the darkness. Amen.