The ARM of St. Michael
Our faith program of recovery has enlisted protection and deliverance - graces of regression prevention and wound healing, all in the power of Christ. Added to this are the gifts the Father truly delights in. God wants our happiness on this earth, not the drudgery of an uninterruptable lock-down mode of sin evasion.
Depending on how deep rooted are our addicting deformities, and in combination with an emerging abhorrence for the dead past of sin, our freedom searching labors can somehow still wind up being attempts to block or stop "disorder". While this makes sense for an addict, a larger perspective adds that addiction recovery is recovery of life.
Yet the post-denial hatred of lust can sometimes come to avoidance of others and interactions, fear or resentment of women, fear of weakness, and fear of life or fear of the world. But Jesus said: I have overcome the world.
The biblical prescription is always "do not be afraid" (this writer needs the repeated message more than all others!). "Fear not" might be translated today as: do not do all things so as to just block or stop. Life is not all warfare. Love is not defense. There is the gentle offense of loving action, the confident engagement in blessing things; in goodness truth and beauty, in virtue, in charity and mercy.
Is it possible to become addicted to merely waiting for perfect deliverance, a holding out on Tabor until the Kingdom of Heaven comes? Or put another way, can our affliction, even our recovery, be set aside as something less than the inconvenient dominating truth of my life? Yes, we are deformed without the prospect of an imminent sterilizing miracle, yes it takes a long time to be completely liberated from distorted flesh, yes we have the nagging repetition of triggers which do not fail to continue to exasperate and humble.
The world from which sometimes there is fearful withdrawal, still beckons, asking if we can be in it again, while, maybe for the first time, being not of it. Are we going to hide in our 'private monastery' or look the world in the eye, tasting freedom? But beyond the horizon of the negative, of a consuming deformity and every tactical response thereto, something else remains, the door unopened at the other end of the fellowship room. From the beginning, there seemed to be only one door. "How did I never notice before the other door at the far end?"
What's beyond that door? What I am supposed to be! How best I may serve. A love of others and self, being a little easier with earthly existence. A confidence that old trouble can be fended off with faith and perfect prayer or loving action. Yea, better with lived life than anything else!?
Perhaps there is arriving then for the directee, a new pastime, or a new healthy embrace of a revisited one, a hobby, a reward, a source of enjoyment, such as music, dancing, painting: delight that takes me out of myself to receive the gifts of others or giving my own away. Perhaps, a reconnection to nature, to see the omnipresent splendor of the Divine Hand in every stitch of creation.
Real living is waiting, and has always been waiting, to help minimize our head-based self-definition in mental illness. Isn’t this too the faith that saves? To put out into the world anew but on a mission of love, to gather the love of God through others, everywhere it be found, and to pour out our love upon our neighbor instead of pouring out fear?
Consider lastly, the glimpse of impossible beauty. A bristlecone pine, gnarled, sun-pounded, seemingly dead except for that scant flourish of blue foliage at the end of one farthest reaching branch, or that tenacious perennial in the backyard that’s been "over there" somehow for decades, imperfect, without any balance or proportion, broken, stunted… and bearing flowers!
The words of our Lord to his mystic on August 18, 1943: Jesus says: “It is said, ‘ I shall have the victor feed on the tree of life…’ And this thought has been applied to Me.
Yes, I am the tree of eternal life, and I give Myself to you as food in the Eucharist, and the sight of Me will be joyful food of the victors in the other life. But there is another meaning which many do not know precisely because many who comment on Me are not ‘victors.’
Who is a victor? What is needed to be one? Works resounding with heroism? No. Those who are victorious would then be too few in number. The victors are those who in themselves gain victory over the Beast, who would like to get the better of them. In truth, between atrocious, but brief martyrdom, with the help of supernatural and natural factors, and a secret, obscure, and continuous struggle, the latter, on the scales of God, is of greater weight, or at least of a weight of a different kind, but precious.
No tyrant is a greater tyrant than the flesh and the Devil. And those who are able to gain the victory over the flesh and the Devil and make the flesh a spirit and the devil a vanquished foe are ‘the victors’.
But to be such, people must have given themselves totally to Love. Totally: those who love with all their strength reserve nothing for themselves, and, in not keeping anything for themselves, they keep nothing for the flesh and for the Devil. They give everything to their God, and God gives everything to those who love Him.
How much Life I give you! True Life, holy life, eternal life, joyful Life, through my word, which is the Word of the Father and the love of the Spirit. Yes, in truth I have ‘the victor’ eat of the fruit of the tree of Life. I give it to him beginning on this earth through my spiritual doctrine, which I return to bear among men so that not all men will perish. I give it to you in the other life by my being in your midst eternally.
I am true Life. Remain in Me, my beloved ones, and you will not know death.”~~~
Thank you Triune God, for our doctor, Jesus. Thank you for granting us His attentive care of our addiction wounds. Give us freedom from fear of the Devil, fear of the world, fear of life and freedom from enslavement to fear. Help us to live now the health of our recovery in the new life of Your constant grace. Amen.