Tuesday, January 6, 2009


There are two major mistakes that people make when they fighting personal vices especially in matters of chastity. They are to be avoided at all costs for any number of reasons the most important of them being that they do not work and that they can be at least mildly heretical.

The first extreme involves the idea that, “I’m going to get all cleaned up and then I will come back to God and ask for forgiveness,” or even if one is inclined already to confession they have in their mind, “I am going to beat this FOR God.” Christopher West refers to this as “White Knuckling It.” “If I try really, really hard I will beat sin on my own!” If this were even possible we would not have needed a Savior. We are in a relationship with God a kin to a marriage. We would not say to our spouse, “I’m going to work on our relationship and then I will return to you and we will live happily ever after.” No, you work on your relationship together each aiding the other in his need.

In a like manner God does not expect, desire, or even consider that we could become saints on our own. He desires all of us, warts, bald spots, and all, not just the pretty parts. He loves us for better or for worse, good times and bad, sickness and health. We should not even try to hide or protect or deny Him access to any part of us – particularly those parts that need His healing!

The other extreme are those who cry out to God to simply take some disordered desire away from them. On the surface this seems like a reasonable enough request. “I want God want, Who I want to love above all else, to take away from me this possibility to love something else more than Him.” Yet if all of our inordinate desires were simply whisked away from us, if we had no choice but to love God, we ironically would not really love Him at all. In order to love one must have free will. If one has free will one must be able to not-love for it is only to the degree that one can not-love that one can love.

So the second step to healing (the first was to realize that healing needed to take place) is to find the right path. The right path is neither “white knuckling it” nor having our problem annihilated. The Christian’s path lies directly between these two and involves recognizing and engaging our true relationship with our God. We, the Church, are the bride and Christ is the Bridegroom and we tackle the difficulties in our relationship together. Before, during, and after every temptation to stray from our Divine Spouse we implore His assistance. He wants to help us and waits for our invitation. We need not be mavericks nor puppets on a string, but partners on our path to holiness and salvation. As Julian of Norwich explains to us that when we entrust God with our whole selves in this way, God, Who is all powerful, then can use that which is damaged in us to bring us more closely to Himself by having the very thing that is designed to pull us further away from Him actually catapult us more deeply into His heart. Such is the power and wonder of God and the frustration of the Devil!

Jumping on the right path may not get you home overnight, but at least now you will be on the right path and the possibility of getting home is greater than it was before.


Adoro said...

Fr. V., I think this is one of your best. posts. ever. Thank you.

uncle jim said...

ditto what adoro said

"ditto" is 'alien-speak' and means
"you nailed me" as i plead to God with my white knuckles plainly visible

Smiley said...

Thank you so much i swing like a pendulum from white kunckle to the other side. I like your marriage analogy thank you thank you soooo much