Tuesday, 21 May 2013

How My Pursuit for Holiness Almost Ruined My Life

It wasn't until I really, I mean really, let my sins go in the sacrament of confession that I began to make progress. I used to think somehow, subconsciously, that being 'afraid' of certain sins, worrying about committing them, being anxious about them (hyper-vigilance), and hating them would bring about metanoia (repentance) and metamorphosis (change). That by these means I would someday, if I kept at it, escape my sins, that I would stop sinning. This deluded me, and I thought to myself," You have only to be courageous and obedient! Do not do...!" I thought my virtue would save me, even understanding that it was God-given, to help me. He would give me His courage! He would help me abstain!

And other Christians led me to believe it, too. They said," Yes! Keep on!" Some directly, some indirectly. Others I misunderstood, because of my own delusion. It wasn't until I understood that fear, worry, anxiety, and hate only tend to evil... that I really began to leave them behind. Christ didn't come to stop me, to prevent me, to make me abstain. He came to set me free, not only from what I had done, but He had freed me to set me at perfect liberty. He did not come to recruit soldiers, dispensing courage, to have them fight a battle that He had already won. No. He came, giving His Spirit, heartening us with courage so that we would proclaim Christ crucified, in word and deed. I was in truth trying to fulfill the Law, and did not recognize it.
I was believing a lie. Namely, that though I was absolved, I was still full of sin. That I could save myself from sin, if only God would give me the tools, if only He would help me obey the rules!

I learned to love God in that miserable state of despair out of auto-suggested zeal and duty. I did not love God with my heart, that miserable, shriveled up, little raisin. I only intellectually comprehended who He is and that I owed him something. So, imagine how shallow my view of Christ was! I was so shallow! I was a faker! But I desperately wanted to be good. My pursuit for holiness had ruined me, because I was not seeking 'first the Kingdom of God and HIS righteousness'... which is that He is loving and merciful, and that through His loving mercy He establishes His kingdom with in me. Because He says," No one will say,' Lo, here it is... or... Lo, there it is. For the Kingdom of God is within you." Can you see how backward I was? And maybe this is you, right now! It can be over in an instant. Cry out for mercy!

Satan had deceived me, and I had deceived myself. I was so frantic, I could not see the mess I was in. I could not see that I was deceived! Moreover, I actually believed that if I persisted in this, I would obtain what my soul was crying out for. Can you imagine? I thought what was killing me was saving me. And the 'duty' to be holy made me seem holy to those around me, so no one could help me. No one knew I was drowning. Least of all myself! I thought I was treading water until I could reach God's far shore. As if God was standing off at a distance for my good. "Who can know God's ways?," I told my self with resignation, as I exhausted myself near to death. That is why I did not experience His grace. The truth was, I had no real faith, because I was putting it in my own false perceptions. I was like Peter, I had started well, got scared, and was about to drown to death.

I was under siege, like an animal being poked in a cage and tortured. I thought I was pleasing God, but I was offending Him! I thought I was offering service to God, but I was serving myself. Worse I was serving demons as their entertainment. I was walking in iniquity, believing I was doing the holy things He commanded me to do. I was rejecting His grace for the Law! And yet, ignorant as I was, I still marveled that Satan tormented me as often as He liked, and with impunity. Christ mercifully made me see that I would escape temptation through His mercy. Not that I would not be tempted, but that I would escape it by grace, through taking every thought captive for Christ and crying out for mercy! His mercy is my life. I knew that, but I did not understand. I had knowledge, but not understanding. And when His Spirit made me understand, I was able to be wise. I could then do what was good, taking no thought of evil. He made me to behave wisely, by enlightening me, and strengthening me to do whatever He had shown me.

I don't carry around those sins on my shoulders. They are not within me, necessitating me to contain them with my virtue, my strength, and my cunning. Not even with my faith, or my hope, or my love. I am not a 'Pandora's Box' of evil, whose lid must remain shut! I am the temple. I had been been closing the gates of my heart, but through Christ I now understand the Psalmist when he says to me," Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in!" Before, I knew; now, I understand, that though concupiscence is a voice within me, I will drown it out with cries for mercy, not by arguing with it. Not by what I know. Sin is stupid, brothers; it is no feat to win an argument against it! A child can do that. But it doesn't care if you win, because it is Evil. It will destroy you anyway. Thanks be to God that I understand, now!

Nothing is more simple! Accept the work of the Cross, banish condemnation from your heart by believing in and accepting the power of confession, and cry out for mercy. Don't waste any energy on worry, hate, anxiety, or fear. They only work to evil. Simply love what is good, understand that Christ's mercy is your victory over sin, pray incessantly, and do good. Therefore, stay with Him in the Eucharist, and in confession. And of course, forgive all people, especially before they seek forgiveness... this, too, is how you banish condemnation. "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

If I am careful, and I take every thought captive for Christ, through Christ, and nullify the evil images, and cut them off by the name of Jesus Christ... then that poison will not make it's way into my heart. Where does Christ say evil comes from? "It is not what goes into a man which defiles him, but what comes out of him." Elsewhere He says," For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders." So, if I do that first thing, then evil does not come out of me. Then, I have only only not to do evil. Not that I have not to do evil, but that I have to do good. It is for me to do. You don't like all the evil in the world? Stop doing evil. You like the good? Then, do that. Please pray for me as I pray for you.

"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~

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