The ARM of St. Michael
Overcoming sin and its deadly power is the feat of our Savior Jesus Christ. Each one of us is in the middle of the campaign of giving all eventually over to God, to receive his gift of freedom and transformation. Following the meditations that have focused on the little way of St Therese, we turn to the hard part in living the consecration to Divine Mercy: keeping before us our deformity and brokenness, attracting Merciful Love by this peculiar poverty which for relapsing addicts might be affectionately named ‘involuntary stupidity’.
Why are we stupid? Why do we dare to use the eye to sin and then turn around and beg Jesus’ blood to blot out the very same phantasm?
Intoxication is something horrifyingly familiar. Changing the bad habit is manual labor. We need, we pray for, conversion. Lust is trust in a drug, not in God. Sometimes the Lord lets us see close up our strange and helpless commitment to the idol that tempts us to self immersion. Is freewill itself intoxicating?
Can one be addicted to struggle, to the calamity of needing irregularity and tumult, getting down getting up, in order to feel alive?
Do we keep returning to the past because we think it “works” somehow?
Are we addicted to the excitement of escapism or even resentment, anonymous aversions from responsibility and practiced virtues?
Is it because we have not yet actually seen our sin so plainly: that it is truly not any part of God’s plan, is not at all God’s will, that short lived intoxication is not better than no intoxication, the reality of how it will never work, will never bring what we really want.
Do our hearts have an “untouchable” place where the root of the forbidden, oblivious, and yes, “stupid” attachment awaits surgery? Are we hanging on to the flesh for dear life? Is there desire to change a flesh orientation to a spirit orientation?
St Paul: You foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is alike, but there is one kind for men, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are celestial bodies and there are terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown in a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living soul”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust, the second is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Corinthians 15 36-50
“We have been called to a continuous metanoia, a conversion, a reformulation of the priority of life, so that this reality can also be fully realized in our own existence.” - Fr. Gabriele Amorth
Addiction always seems to suddenly appear when God is left out of our life, the flesh is its domicile. The intoxicant becomes the god, the Director, the Thing we obey, instead of the Real and the True: the One God over everything. But scripture tells us how laughable is our puny-fake substitution for the Only Reality. Is our habit so old that we have simply never questioned its deep level of servility?
The Kingdom and the freedom at hand, is at the intersection of broken flesh, fearing mind, but mostly, unconverted heart. We can confess not being able to ‘just let it go’.
Of the flesh, God can fix it, which cultivates patience. Of the mind, every reason for the return to stupidity can be exposed, even going back to the earliest unmapped days of original entanglement.
Of the heart, it is asking ‘who do you love?’ The faller’s confession: my flesh. Alas!
Help me God to love you, not ‘the me’ of this clueless heart of flesh, slave of these lusts of nature, confused with pagan and animal worlds. Give me a spiritual heart that wants holiness and good. Free me from the intoxication of self-serving free will and its worthless excitements. Dispossess me of Satan’s purchase on this heart of sin. Create for me a clean heart and put a steadfast spirit within me O God!
Addiction recovery is conversion, turning off idols and self, turning to suffering their absence and God’s will of better things. Conversion is coming to terms with the reality of our sin, “sinner that I know myself to be” and asking God to show us what it means to be free in our hearts.
In the language of the little way, it is to give our powerlessness to Him promptly, as soon as possible, always. Give to the Lord the demonic phantasm for diffusing and sending away the second it appears. Resist the devil, in Christ, until Satan flees. Can’t pray it away alone? Call someone and pray as two!
God is not asking for a sin-beast to be slain with our human hand. He wants our desire for his mercy. Underneath it all is the eternal issue of trust. Our bad habit is simply trust in “me”, because that’s usually the strongest message received heretofore. Conversion is trust in God, the after, of his way of chastity and personal self-mastery through the power of His more-than-sufficient grace.
Holy God convert our hearts to being able to trust in You completely, that, though arduous, living without sexual intoxication, is not only possible but an unsurpassable blessing we can receive. We beg today in Jesus’ name. Amen.