It has been quite some time since my last blog post. In truth, my brothers, I have been discerning whether or not I should continue writing at all. After all, what is my true motivation for doing so? Is it for the edification of others or simply to lift my ego? A valid question related to my continual efforts to root out my predominant defect. To that end, I have been reading An Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Frances de Sales. Recently, a particular passage struck me and others in my Paulatim small group. While discussing section 7 The Second Purgation, Namely, of Affection for Sin, much of our discourse revolved around the following (emphasis mine):
Although all the Israelites left Egypt in effect, not all of them left it in affection, and hence in the wilderness, many of them regretted their lack of the onions and fleshpots of Egypt. In like manner, there are penitents who leave sin in effect, but do not leave it in affection. They resolve never to sin again, but it is with a certain reluctance that they give up or abstain from the fatal delights of sin. Their heart renounces and shuns sin but looks back at it just as Lot’s wife looked back at Sodom.
They abstain from sin like sick men abstaining from melons. They don’t eat them solely because the doctor warns them that they’ll die if the do, but they begrudge giving them up, talk about them and would eat them if they could, want to smell them at least, and envy those who can eat them. In such a way, weak, lazy penitents abstain regretfully for a while from sin. they would like very much to commit sins if they could do so without being damned. (Pg 50, Translated and Edited by John K. Ryan)
St. Frances goes on to describe such a man
….who had resolved to take vengeance on another will change his mind in the confessional but a little later you will find him among his friends talking delightedly about his quarrel and saying, “If it wasn’t for the fear of God, I would do this or that, ” “In this matter of forgiving people the divine law is a hard thing, ” and ” I wish to God it would let a man revenge himself.” We all see that although this unfortunate man has been set free from sin he is still entangled by affection for it. (Pg 51, Translated and Edited by John K. Ryan)
We proceeded to have an organic and edifying discussion which led me to meditate on this particular subject. It was during this communion with the Spirit that He led me to this passage:
Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.
Like many, I have heard/read this passage innumerable times and this time….was convicted. In it, I see myself. A weak and lazy penitent that remains just a grain of wheat. He has shown me that in many ways I have abstained from sin not because it offends my God, but because I fear His just punishment. In other words, I have been simply changing my actions in lieu of embracing my identity in Christ.
As I pondered this point further, I found I must re-frame my thinking from, “I can’t do X because of Y” to
“I won’t sin because it offends my God and robs me of the Sanctifying Grace that will lead me to Holiness”
These thoughts and meditations renew within me my mission to cling to God’s Truth, follow the Christ, and enact the gift of freedom that He has endowed me with.
God love you, and may the work you do today bear fruit in Eternity.