Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Ash Wednesday 2018

"Lord, fill me and make me yours," a simple prayer, but not easy. It is not easy to be filled with the Lord when we are filled with other things. It is not easy to be His own when we have given ourselves to another. (Please hear this, I a not referring to human relationships or the daily duties and requirements of life.)
Human love is not a barrier, but whatever steals your heart from true and faithful love is. The false 'loves' which kill your body, soul and spirit are barriers. The barriers are always sin.

Sin is a power within us and death is its fruit. Sin is the perversion of our thinking, feeling, perceiving and understanding. Sin includes every desire, intent, choice, and act which turns us and closes us off to God and one another. Sin works from the inside out and the outside in. Sin is our deadly alliance with the unholy trinity (world, flesh and devil). Sin separates us from the Father as we banish God to the periphery of our life and blame Him in the process.

Today is Valentine's Day, so why don't we renew our romance with God? Let's embrace the Lord and allow His Spirit to breathe new life into us. Let us break down the barriers to theosis (union with the Holy Three).

There are different lists of these barriers in Classical Christianity. They are understood in various ways with a different emphasis. They are sometimes called the seven deadly sins. Some add to this number. They are also called temptations, bad thoughts and bad desires (or deadly passions). They are always understood as poisons which harm us, so, even as Jesus heals us and the Spirit sanctifies us, we must battle against them. We cooperate with grace by practicing the virtue which is the opposite of each vice (think of it as a vicious inclination):

Pride, combatted with humility.
Anger, defeated by patience
Envy, uprooted by kindness
Lust, bridled by chastity
Greed, swept away by generosity
Gluttony, quieted by moderation
Sloth, overcome by diligence
Acedia, conquered by faith and discipline...

From Pride (be it self-righteousness, arrogance, or the refusal to accept help) to Acedia (despair, sadness and indifference) each of these passions has multiple dimensions which are uniquely at work within each of us. We are all broken and wounded people in different ways. We are also, of our own volition, selfish sinners. We are in need of healing and forgiveness. We must learn to repent, trust and love more and more.

The problem is we often do not see or understand how broken, wounded and sinful we really are. We deceive ourselves, comforted in the belief: "I am not so bad." Personally, I think it is true. Most of us are not so bad, but good and bad are really not the issue. Loving God is the issue. I am not so bad, but I do not passionately love Jesus. I am not so bad, but the Father wants my whole heart, not the thin slice I toss Him from time to time. I am not so bad, but I am also not so good, not so free, not so alive as the Father created me to be. I am not fully in union with the Lord who made me for Himself.

This Lent I want to grow in love in the Holy Three. I want divine fire to be aflame within me and divine light to shine in and through me. You are here. You want it, too. So let us begin together!

Where will you start? Which deadly desire will you seek release from this Lent? How will you structure your life to cooperate with the saving work of Jesus the Word and transforming power of the Holy Spirit? How will you grow in trust and love? The next forty days, together, we embrace the best of romances, the union of the Holy Three God with each and all of us. It begins right now. 

*See The Eight Deadly Sins from John Cassian

this article Wikepedia is also a nice start

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