Tag Archives: addiction

O Happy Fault[1]: Blessings in Peculiar Packages #1

God’s blessings sometimes come in very peculiar packages. In my works of charity, it is pride. How can I conceive of such a thing? Pride is a sin! Nonetheless I repeat that God uses this blight on my character as an avenue down which grace can flow.

By allowing me to preen and puff over the trifles I do, Jesus has handed me a branding iron and has me stamp “No Reward” all over each of my actions. Jesus compares me to the hypocrites He berates three times in succession in Matthew 6: first for blowing trumpets to win the praise of others [2][Mt 6:2a] when giving alms; second for showing off while praying so that others may see them [Mt 6:5a]; and finally for looking gloomy and disheveled so that they may appear to others to be fasting.[Mt 6:16a] In all three instances, Jesus denunciation and condemnation of such public show is the same: Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. [Mt 6:2b,5b,16b]

I may attempt to fool myself into thinking that I do not show off externally, thus gloating over my superiority over such hypocrites…an utter charade. I may pretend to “swallow my pride” and play at false humility, pride’s foulest ludicrous and pitiable mockery. I may simply pat myself on my proverbial back and present myself with pseudo-kudos for being “such a good boy” in helping others, when, in truth, I have used them by my actions, my charity sanctimonious lies. I may even play at such right here and now with a display of verbal dexterity.

And all for naught….For Jesus turns to me each time I pretend and says in no uncertain terms: Amen, I say to you,…[you] have received…[your] reward. And the insane aspect of it all is that I know in my heart of hearts that He judges me with this O, so cruel yet truth-filled condemnation every time…and yet I keep on doing it again and again and again, in never ceasing stupidity. I am just like my namesake, St. Paul: What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hateThe willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. [Rom 7:15,18] I am truly insane, according to Albert Einstein, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.[3]Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body? [Rom 7:24]

And if you think this is an addiction, it is. Any sin that becomes a habit is probably addictive. Let’s face it: it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, quacks like a duck, then, by Jove, it’s a duck! Fortunately, thanks to the grace God gave Bill W. and others, we have a program that fights addiction. Since my life is unmanageable and I have concluded that I am insane, I must join all the other addicts, in this case, sinners of the world, and come “to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity” and then make “a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”[4]

In case I think that if I get rid of pride, I have it made…think again. In this, Bill W echoes Jesus’ “No way!” Jesus says: All who depend on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not persevere in doing all the things written in the book of the law.the law does not depend on faith; rather, “the one who does these things will live by them.” [Gal 3:10,12] Whoever keeps the whole law, but falls short in one particular, has become guilty in respect to all of it. [James 2:10] Therefore, any trip up, any slight deviation, any “venial” sinful act and I am cursed. If I try to follow the law, I will fall. And the law has no safety net…one fall, I am guilty, I am cursed. That no one is justified before God by the law is clear, for “the one who is righteous by faith will live.” [Gal 3:11]

Without Divine intervention, we are caught in a Catch 22, a vortex that inevitably leads to condemnation, death, and eternal punishment. For only God [Mark 2:7] and those to whom God has given the power [Jn 20:22-23] can forgive sin. But, thanks be to God, the Father, who for our sake…made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him. [2 Cor 5:21] Christ ransomed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree,”…so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.[Gal 3:13,14b]

I can be thankful for the fact that, though I am judged guilty of sin, God says to me, “I so loved the world that...[I] gave…[my] only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For…[I] did not send…[my] Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. [Jn 3:16-17] Believe in me, believe in my Son, believe that Jesus took your guilt for those sins of yours, your condemnation of Him, your blows as you scourged him, your taunting as you crowned Him with thorns, your betrayal as you denied him, your hatred as you screamed “Crucify Him, crucify Him”…He endured all these things for Your sake, took them with Him to the Cross and there forgave you for you did not know what you were doing. [Lk 23:34] For every time you sin, you in effect reenact the entire passion, re-betraying, re-arresting, re-judging, re-interrogating, re-scourging, re-crowning, re-condemning my Son. And each time, each and every time, He forgives you and asks Me to forgive you. And, since He forgives you, neither do I condemn you. And I say to you: Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more. [Jn 8:11] You are no longer forever guilty of your sin; everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin;..[but] if a son frees you, then you will truly be free. [Jn 8:34,36] My Son freed you and My mercy triumphs over judgment.” [James 2:13b]

Thank You, Father, for turning all things, including pride, to work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. [Rom 8:28] Amen. Alleluia!!!

[1] From the Exultet, the Proclamation that is sung during the Easter Vigil Liturgy. http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/p-30-exultet.html

[2] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Hereafter, NABRE.

[3] Albert Einstein Quotes, Brainy quote, http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/ a/alberteins133991.html#yQWHIbTCt6MDpevx.99

[4] Steps One, Two and Three, The Twelve Steps Of Alcoholics Anonymous, Service Material from the General Service Office, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/smf-121_en.pdf

Advertisements

Jn 6:3 Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples.[1]

Jesus, we each have our own mountains to climb. You invite us each day to take up our cross, our own special mountaineering gear, and to follow Him. The problem is that many of us attempt to fling down our crosses and run down the mountain to the valley of death, the plain of Armageddon, the distractions of daily life. Just like you shouldn’t text and drive, it’s sometimes difficult to text and carry your cross at the same time. Texting can be a great act of charity, but it, like all other gifts of God, can also be a great temptation, a great distraction, even a great idol.

I am not truly “actively indifferent” to meditating with my computer this morning. Not only am I clinging to this ritual, this habit, but I want to be the one to know where I am going with this meditation…but both of these are all wrong. If You, Holy Spirit, are guiding me, inspiring me, enabling me, then, like Jesus, through You, I am suppose to be being obedient to Your will, Father. To be ob-audiere, listening to, You. Instead of being so wrapped up in me, me, me, I am to hold all things, my laptop, my time, my way, my thoughts, my feelings, my will loosely in my hands, for they are all gifts from You and You designed them to be used for me to praise, reverence and serve You. Forgive me for forgetting you, for ignoring You, for disregarding Your promptings, Your in-spirings, Your breathings. No wonder we do not know how to pray as we ought, [Rom 8:26]. I am so caught up in myself, I can’t pay attention to anything else, lest I disappear and I will not know where to find me. I am told that only when I die to myself, loose myself in You will I truly be free. But I am sooo, sooo, scared. You must pry my desperate fingers from my very being, one painful figure at a time, one “must have,” “must do,” “must be,” one “MUST” at a time until I am free to be with You, in You, through You to the world.

Not only am I not indifferent, I am much more concerned about what “my readers” will think, whether they will “like” it or not, whether they will reassure me that “I am” by their presence, by their reading, by their feedback, than I am in praying as I ought. Indeed, If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all, [1Cor 15:19] and I the most desolate of all. O, the hubris. O, Ego! Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body?[Rom 7:24] this addiction of adulation, this fantasy of fan-dom, this cyclic syndrome of solipsism. Christ will!!! Alleluia!!! Amen!

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

John 5:40 But you do not want to come to me to have life.[1]

Let’s be realistic.  Following Jesus is no walk in the park,…it is accepting the worst that the world has to give, taking it unto myself, and stumbling up the path, the Way, to Calvary, following Jesus.  It is the inevitable dying with, in and for Jesus, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.  It is completely letting go, riding the roller-coaster of life without holding on, trying to control it, but leaving our safety, our security, our lives, our very selves totally in the hands of the Father.

So, while Jesus was talking to the Pharisees, the Sadducees, as well as the local bystanders, the gawkers, the thrill-seekers who were there for the side-show, the “magic,” the miracles, the free bread, the entertainment, watching the game of one-upmanship by someone who always seemed to get the better of those “righteous” hypocrites, the Pharisees and Sadducees, who always looked down on everyone, he was and is also talking to me, right here, right now…no holds barred.  He sees right into my soul, my reluctant, timid, tepid soul, hanging back, never really fully committing myself, never really letting go of my “lifeline” to the world, which, if I ever took the time to really look at it, is the chain that binds me to my addictions, my obsessions, my cruelty, my evil negativity, my rejection, my solipsism, my self-centeredness, my idolatry of the crumbling, frail, feeble, aging façade I call my “precious,” my inflated ego who gets popped and has to be continually repaired, excused, hidden, exposed, refurbished…and which, when I really take a hard look at myself, I hate, despise, am disgusted by, am revolted by, and would discard, disavow, dismiss, even destroy that who aspect of me if I could.

The interesting, the wondrous, the amazing, the incredible thing about Jesus is….that He sees all of my junk, all my baggage, all my warts and blemishes, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, and He still loves me…He really, actually loves ME!

St. Paul puts it this way: What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?…For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Rom 8:35, 38-39]  He could have just as easily said addictions, obsessions, cruelty, evil, negativity, rejection, solipsism, self-centeredness, idolatry for Jesus was referring to me when he said:“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”[Mk 2:17; Mt 9:13; Lk 5:32; 1 Tim 1:12]

Jesus, I am so sick I don’t even recognize that I am sick.  I have become so use to my addictions, my obsessions, cruelty, evilness, negativity, rejections, solipsism, self-centeredness, self-idolatry that it is my modus operandi, my de rigueur, my self-installed life-coach which, instead of listening to You, Holy Spirit, and to my conscience, I am controlled by Pavlovian responses programmed to react to the world.  I am hooked up to “life-monitoring” machines alright…but they’re the wrong machines, dripping the drugs of my addiction, stimulating the I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want [Rom 7:19] response.

Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore, I myself, with my mind, serve the law of God but, with my flesh, the law of sin. [Rom 7:24-25]

Fortunately, God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, YOU ALL love me…Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who acquits us. Who will condemn? It is Christ [Jesus] who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. [Rom 8:33-34]  Amen.  Alleluia!!!

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.