Comments Again

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aka The Problem Isn't OUT THERE, It's IN HERE. (points to heart).

I know you must tire of hearing about me. However, I always find helpful any insight, any retelling of the struggles one experiences in the spiritual life.

About a week ago, I closed the comments section for Lent. I did so because I thought that it would eliminate one particular temptation I had against the completion or even the doing of morning prayer. (This is a temptation that has crept into the repertoire or recent date, I not know whereof it comes.) I've received a number of e-mails both supportive and castigating (sometimes in the same e-mail).

What I discovered is that once the comments boxes were closed, new things cropped up that attempted to distract me from morning prayer. As I would deal with these externals one by one, I came to be aware that I was battling not the powers of this world, but the thrones, dominions, and principalities of the world beyond this one. In such a case my own efforts are futile without the aid of grace. God allows these temptations to strengthen my resolve to stay true to the discipline of the Church and more particularly to the Order to which I belong. And so, no amount of cracking down on the externals is going to remedy a flaw internal. Thus, it is better to accept the temptation and pray for the grace to remedy the internal flaw, whatever it may be, that gives rise to them. This is the more direct and useful mode of dealing with them.

As a result, I am reopening comments. Please be aware that if you do not receive a timely response to your comment, it is not because I am not interested, I am snubbing you or ignoring you; rather, it is because I am attempting to keep to my resolve with regard to this temptation.

And my deep appreciation and thanks to all who have commented and who will comment. This is one of the reasons community is so important in the life of every Christian.

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This is a struggle I also have ... althought with the coming of Lent it now has shifted from morning prayer (thanks to me taking up a more disciplined schedule at home) to keeping myself applied to my work (this is a problem when you work with your husband who is too indulgent of my blogging). So I am also struggling with these temptations ... which used to be computer games, which used to be reading ... because this struggle shifts from thing to thing to thing I know that I can't blame the things themselves but my own heart. Believe me, I "get it" bro. :-)

This has perenially been an area of interest to me: at what point does a prudent attention to externals become "white knuckle" Christianity, that which has more in common with stoicism than true Christianity?

Okay, I'll start


God Bless.

Dear TSO,

I think I'm slowly coming back to the great moderate way of Carmel and realizing that these "penances and mortifications" while well intentioned may end up giving more attention to the problem rather than the solution. I like your analogy of white-knuckled Christianity--and I know I mark that point for me comes when I cling to my first decision no matter what. Flexibility and openness to the Holy Spirit, being willing to say that maybe this was wrong and maybe another way is possible, is a very, very difficult thing but oh so critical. One of the difficulties is that you begin to think what a fool you'll seem to the rest of the world. The saving grace is to realize that I really am a fool anyway, so why worry about what the world thinks--particularly if its essentially accurate.

Thanks for writing.



Dear ukok,

What a pleasure to be able to write to you. I'm sure it will come as an enormous relief that you aren't interrupting any part of the Liturgy of the Hours!



Yeah, looking at it that way then reversing yourself becomes a kind of penance! Pretty cool. I can definitely relate to that part about being a fool.

Although I must say that in the area of mortifications, I really never have to seek any out. What "In Conversation with God" does for me is to help me recognize opportunities that are already in my life, just waiting to help improve me ... that woman who cuts in line, etc. are all chances for me to practice patience and other virtues.

Dear Julie,

And you say you're not a Carmelite! Where do you think In Conversation with God got that little riff? St. Thérèse! There are mortifications enough in a day, you needn't seek them out. I'm not sure how you feel about the Little Flower, but you sure live out her doctrine.



I think that to overcome temptation you should not have closed the comments section. It should be still on - and asking for the help of God's grace and making firm resolution you should be able to overcome this. If the resolution is pleasing to God it is usually easy to keep it. May Our Lady protect and intercede for your needs this Lent on your way to Christian Perfection. God bless

Dear Jay,

You may be right. But there is great wisdom in avoiding the occasion of sin. (As a lay member of an Order, my promises bind me to the rule of the Order and a disruption of that rule is a sin that must be confessed.) Were I prone to concupiscence, and wished to abolish the sin, I might put away from me all things that would inspire the feeling. I certainly wouldn't walk into a strip club and ask God to protect me from lust. So discretion is also the better part of wisdom.

However, concupiscence and reading comments on a blog are hardly comparable in their sinfulness, and you rightly point out that I chose a bazooka to swat at a gnat. Sometimes we just have to do something to see how well it might work. My assumption was that it had something to do with the particular cause (blogging, comments, etc.). Withholding the comments gave me the opportunity to find out that is in some new onslaught of temptations. With that, I simply ask that those out in the world of blogging remember me in their daily prayers. I am confident that full obedience and love of God will bring about victory through God's grace over this new hazard.

Thank you for writing.





Hi Steven, I am Carmelite tertiary as well, as you rightly pointed out running out from the sin is very proficient but if temptation against chastity and purity appear- at least this is what classic spiritual writers advice poor sinners - example the classic by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli "Spiritual Combat". It is effective I can confirm this from practice. Other kinds of temptation we shoud fight with the help of God's grace, begging Him for the abundance. Usually in Lent I found temptations intensified, by the way. God bless!

Dear Jay,

As to you last thought (before the final greeting) you are so right. In fact, this one that I have experienced is brand new to me. I've never been tempted in this way before, so I thought first of the expedient solution, now I'll let God hand me the BEST solution.



O felix culpa! Twelve comments on this post. :-)



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on March 15, 2006 8:55 AM.

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