Saturday, February 25, 2012

Willingly Willing It

 It is the paradox of seeking to live an authentic Catholic life.  If we would do so, we must mold our will, our stubborn prideful selves to God's. If we would do that, we must "Will it."  So on the one hand, we must surrender our willfulness and on the other, we must wilfully throw ourselves into God's will.  It is a both and experience, that takes everything we have and pours it out, and constantly fills us with the infinity of God's grace. 

Lent is a time for strengthening our resistance to sin, strengthening our capacity to "Will it" to be molded as God willed us from the start, but loved enough to allow for our own fumbling about. 

Why are all these thoughts crammed in my head? 

Because I've spent the week seeking to get my children to see, via love, via talk, via reminders and sitting next to them until they're tired of me and I of them, that if they would blossom as their intellects and creativity indicate they could, they must "Will it."  I can check every assignment. I can go over every paper, but if they will not own something of this, they will not be what they could be, they may master some, but what they could own, they will forget and lose.  It takes a sublimation of the self for each of them to do this and that is not easy. What they do not see, is I too am having to "Will it" when I sit there, when I check the homework, when I force myself not to just let it go. 

We are all engaged in an ongoing battle to will what is proper and surrender what is not.   In a sense, all of life is Lent, of learning to surrender the excessive attachment to appetites, power and glory. 
Every time we think we've licked it, we've deluded ourselves, because we continue and the next moment will come when we shall be tempted yet again.  Like the dieter who has lost four pounds, the next day, I still have to watch it today and tomorrow and the next and the next and so on or they'll come back.  There is no rest in this battle, it is ongoing. Sin is like that, a fresh drink to an alcoholic, an offering of a "free sample" to lure you back into whatever it is.

Fortunately, God's grace is ample to defeat sin in our own lives, but we have to avail ourselves and all too often, I find after I've had a momentary triumph, I forget to keep going back to avail myself of still more.  Because I am stubborn, I keep trying to go on alone. Even worse, I find groping for that next moment after I've had a temporary triumph, is all the harder, that moment is the mile before the last leg of a marathon, when it seems justifiable for one's body to fail and the only thing that can keep it from failing is "Willing it."

How do we reach for God's grace in that moment when it seems impossible?  This is what prayer and fasting are designed to do; to give us a method for those moments when appetite or weakness or desire for the things of this world threaten to disorder our lives.   We shall not be perfect, but if we grab onto these gifts and seek God's grace, we shall be perfected in this great struggle.  It will be epic, but we know the outcome, the happy ending, and as such, as hard as the journey may be, it will make for a great story. 

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