I Won’t Give Up

This prayer of petition goes well with the reflections “IN THE REAR VIEW” on The Spiritual Combat, 5.

Acknowledging personal guilt, acknowledging infinite goodness and might of God.

A tendency will often be, after a fall, to fall in on myself.  It seems the writer of this song recognized that tendency but overcame, rose, and went to God.  This is always the best move after a fall.  Go the the Father who loves.  This is what the lost son did in Luke chapter 15.  Recognizing his desperate situation, he decides: “I shall get up and go to my father” (Lk 15:18).  Persevering and humble faith will rise and go to the Father!

IN THE REAR VIEW (reflections): THE SPIRITUAL COMBAT, 5.

The Spiritual Combat

Chapter 5: Of the Error of Many, Who Mistake Pusillanimity for a Virtue
(text below) (click for full book)

This chapter could also be titled: Experience after a fall (sin, failure, action of lack.)  When I have a fall, does my attention move to how bad I feel that I did such a thing, or does my attention move to how bad I feel that I have wounded my relationship with God?  The sorrow that many feel is a sorrow of wounded pride.  That experience needs to be presented to God, following the twofold step given us by Dom Lorenzo: acknowledge my inability, put my trust in God.  This model of conscious renunciation of myself and conscious entrusting to God is so important to spiritual growth.

The grief I experience after a fall should be rooted in my sadness of wounding my relationship with God.  It should not, however, lead to self-pity and astonishment that I had a fall.  I should conclude quickly that the reason I fell is because I am weak, and I should quickly go to God.  I declare my dependence, my inability, my weakness, my poverty, to God.  He then takes care of me.

Chapter 5 text:

Many also deceive themselves in this way, they mistake the fear and uneasiness which follow after sin for virtuous emotions; and know not that these painful feelings spring from wounded pride, and a presumption which rests upon confidence in themselves and their own strength. They have accounted themselves to be something, and relied unduly upon their own powers. Their fall proves to them the vanity of this self-dependence, and they are immediately troubled and astonished as at some strange thing, and are disheartened at seeing the prop to which they trusted suddenly give way.

This can never befall the humble man, who trusts in his God alone, and in nothing presumes upon himself. Though grieved when he falls into a fault, he is neither surprised nor disquieted; for he knows that his own misery and weakness, already clearly manifest to himself by the light of truth, have brought all this upon him.

NEXT:

Chapter 6: Further directions how to attain Self-Distrust and Trust in God

Little Drummer Boy

faithhill

Little Drummer Boy performed by Faith Hill and acapella choir of men on David Letterman.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVtNwLIjKJ4

Why the little drummer boy is worthy:

The little drummer boy admits his own poverty, his lack of gift to bring the newborn King.  He is humble.  He is poor.  He is in a perfect position to be lifted up.  Mary looks to him and brings him to Jesus.

We must acknowledge our own poverty.  We must acknowledge our own lack-of-gift to bring.  Jesus is full of everything, and we are in lack.  When we acknowledge this, we are in a perfect position to be lifted up.

“I HAVE NO GIFT TO BRING!”  we declare.  Then He gives us the greatest gift, He brings us into His very presence and fills us with honor and glory.  We receive our gift, instead of trying to establish, mistakenly, that we have worthy gifts on our own.  Thank you, Jesus!

IN THE REAR VIEW (reflections): THE SPIRITUAL COMBAT, 4.

The Spiritual Combat

Chapter 4: How a man may know whether he is active in Self-Distrust and Trust in God
(text below) (click for full book)

Dom Lorenzo points out that there are many who think they have place their full confidence in the Lord, but have not.  He gives a very simple test: When you fall (in any way, poor moral choice, lack of love, giving in to any temptation), are you able to throw yourself into the mercy of God, or do you fall into a sort of self pity?  Do you make a confession to God based on your own feeling bad about yourself or simply because you have wounded your relationship with Him?

This is a very practical way to evaluate, after having had a fall, where my true confidence lies.  If I shrink in on myself, I have placed my confidence too much in myself.  If I throw myself to God, I am moving well along the path of trust in Him.

Chapter 4 text:

The presumptuous servant often supposes that he has acquired self-distrust and trust in God when the case is far otherwise.

And this will be made clear to thee by the effect produced on thy mind by a fall. If thou art so saddened and disquieted thereby as to be tempted to despair of making progress or doing good, it is a sure sign that thy trust is in self and not in God. For he who has any large measure of self-distrust and trust in God feels neither surprise, nor despondency, nor bitterness, when he falls; for he knows that this has arisen from his own weakness and want of trust in God. On the contrary, being, rendered thereby more distrustful of self, more humbly confident in God, detesting above all things his fault and the unruly passions which have occasioned it, and mourning with a quiet, deep, and patient sorrow over his offense against God, he pursues his enterprise, and follows after his enemies, even to the death, with a spirit more resolute and undaunted than before.

I would that these things were well considered by certain persons so called spiritual, who cannot and will not be at rest when they have fallen into any fault. They rush to their spiritual father, rather to get rid of the anxiety and uneasiness which spring from wounded self-love than for that purpose which should be their chief end in seeking him, to purify themselves from the stain of sin, and to fortify themselves against its power by means of the most Holy Sacrament of Penance.

NEXT:

Chapter 5: Of the Error of Many, Who Mistake Pusillanimity for a Virtue

Christmas Sermon: DELIVERED FROM THE CURSE (Audio Sermon)

You are looking for happiness. Jesus is born for you. He is the true satisfaction of every human heart, for those who would receive him this happy day.
Can you recognize the cry of your own heart? Can you recognize the deepest longing of your existence? Can you hear yourself cry out: “DELIVER ME FROM THE CURSE!” And this day would you please hear Him respond: “I HAVE SENT MY SON!”

Christmas 2012

SERMON: Delivered From the Curse

Merry Christmas!

Oh, how I have been longing for this day!

Jesus is born for us!

God becomes one of us, so that we might become one with Him!

Jesus takes on our humanity so that we can partake in his divinity!

Heaven takes on flesh so that we, made of flesh, can go to Heaven!

This is our salvation!  That Jesus Christ is born for us!

– – – – –

I know a lady, maybe you know her too; she was looking to be loved.  She couldn’t find someone to love her.  She heard some good news about some medicine that would make people love her.  It would make her pretty, it would make her attractive, it would make her lovable.  She took that medicine, and people started to take notice of her.  And she liked it.  But as much as she was loved, she was never satisfied.

I know a guy, maybe you know him too; he was looking to make it big.  He couldn’t seem to get the success he wanted.  He heard some good news about some ways that would give him success.  Networks of people, long hours of labor, cutting corners here, stepping on people there.  Oh, he has become successful.  And he likes it.  But as successful as he is, he is not satisfied.

I know some other people, maybe you know them too: they’re looking to be honored; they’re looking for an escape; they’re looking for happiness.  They’ve heard some good news about finding this honor, this escape, this happiness.  They’ve heard of the pills, the drugs, the medicines, the ways, the techniques, the self helps, the fillers.  And it looked like it was going to help.  And it did, kind of.  But as much as it has helped, finding this honor, this escape, this happiness, it hasn’t been quite enough.  It hasn’t yet satisfied the deepest place in them.

– – – – –

One has been born this night who will love you.

One has been born this night who will give you true success.

One has been born this night who will bring you honor, who will provide an escape, who will bring you happiness, who will satisfy the deepest place in you!

– – – – –

Why do we hear all those peoples’ names at the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew?

Because everything started with Adam and Eve, our first parents.

Ever since their disobedience in the garden, humanity has been under a curse.

And ever since they cursed humanity, God has promised to lift that curse.

And in Christ Jesus, God has lifted that curse!

So when we hear all those names, we are hearing the desperate cry of humanity, age after age after age, crying out: “DELIVER US FROM THE CURSE!”

And when we hear all those names, we hear God respond: “I’M SENDING MY SON!”

God made a pact with Adam, and a promise to send a savior: “I will put enmity between you [serpent] and the woman, between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel,” foreshadowing the victory of Jesus over sin, over the devil, and over death.

God made a pact with Noah, promising to rescue man from the waters and the abyss of the flood by the wood of an ark, foreshadowing how God would rescue man from the flood of sin and the abyss of Hell by the wood of the Cross of Christ.

God made a pact with Abraham, promising a long line of descendents and land, foreshadowing the redeemed who would inherit and possess the eternal land of Heaven.

God made a pact with Moses, promising that the nation of Israel would be God’s people, and He would be their God.  They would follow his laws, foreshadowing the new law to be written on their hearts in Christ.

God made a pact with David, promising a kingdom which would know no end, foreshadowing the Kingdom of Jesus, whose reign knows no end.

God then made a promise through the prophets, that there was someone coming.  One who would lift that curse brought on by Adam.  One who would be the ark to save us from the flood of sin and the fires of Hell.  One who would make us fruitful.  One who would write the law on our hearts.  One who would bring us into His kingdom.  One who would come, one who would save.  One who would rescue us.

So we read all those names, hearing the generations cry out:

“DELIVER US FROM THE CURSE”

and God responds: “I’M SENDING MY SON!”

From Abraham to David, fourteen generations cry out:

“DELIVER US FROM THE CURSE!”

and God responds: “I’M SENDING MY SON!”

From David to the exile, fourteen generations cry out:

“DELIVER US FROM THE CURSE!”

and God responds: “I’M SENDING MY SON!”

From the exile to the Messiah, fourteen generations cry out:

“DELIVER US FROM THE CURSE!

and God responds: “I’M SENDING MY SON!”

…and we hear the final response… God speaks over us: “Jacob became the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.  Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah.”  We are delivered from the curse, in Christ Jesus born for us!

Brothers and sisters:

You are looking to be loved.  Jesus is born for you.  He is here to love you.

You are looking for success.  Jesus is born for you.  He has won victory over sin, over the devil, and over death, for you.

You are looking for honor.  Jesus is born for you.  He is the King of Heaven, and will bring you into his royal court.

You are looking for an escape.  Jesus is born for you.  He will deliver you from your enemies.  He will provide a safe haven where you can find rest.

You are looking for happiness.  Jesus is born for you.  He is the true satisfaction of every human heart, for those who would receive him this happy day.

Can you recognize the cry of your own heart?  Can you recognize the deepest longing of your existence?  Can you hear yourself cry out: “DELIVER ME FROM THE CURSE!”  And this day would you please hear Him respond: “I HAVE SENT MY SON!”

IN THE REAR VIEW (reflections): THE SPIRITUAL COMBAT, 3.

The Spiritual Combat

Chapter 3: Of Trust in God (click to read)

Having come to an understanding that I am unable to save myself, and that if I should trust in myself I will find my life built on a foundation of sand, Dom Lorenzo then finds for us our salvation!  We have a rescuer in God!  Since I am no longer going to trust in myself for anything, I can now trust in God for everything!  “For as we, who are nothing, can look for nothing from ourselves but falls, and therefore should utterly distrust ourselves, so from our Lord may we assuredly expect complete victory in every conflict. … let us arm ourselves with a lively confidence in Him.”

Having given us four ways of distrust of self, he now gives us four ways of trust in God:

1) Ask.

2) look with Faith at all His abilities to do this.

3) look to the promises of Scripture.

4) in any situation, recognize weakness, look to God for help.

Very big questions will come up as we look at this process Dom Lorenzo is placing before us: Why this distrust? Why this order? What’s going on here?

He anticipates, and responds: “Unless you observe this order, though you may seem to yourself to be doing all things in reliance upon God, you will too often find yourself mistaken; for so common is a presumptuous self-confidence, and so subtle are the forms it assumes, that it lurks almost always even under an imagined self-distrust and fancied confidence in God.”  “To avoid presumption as much as possible, and in order that all your works may be wrought in distrust of self and trust in God, the consideration of your own weakness must precede the consideration of God’s omnipotence; and both together must precede all your actions.”

distrust - trust

NEXT:

Chapter 4: How a Man May Know Whether He is Active in Self-distrust and Trust in God

IN THE REAR VIEW (reflections): THE SPIRITUAL COMBAT, 2.

The Spiritual Combat

Chapter 2: Distrust of Self (click to read)

This chapter, at the very core of the teaching of The Spiritual Combat, goes against many modern views of ‘The Self’ or ‘Positive Thinking’ or ‘Liking Me’.  The purpose of the chapter on Distrust of Self is to establish the goodness of God as the fountain head of every good in us.  Otherwise, we too easily think that we have somehow created goodness in ourselves.  This chapter is about our dependence on God for everything, and we need to establish that we are not gods but God’s, that is, His possession and prize.

Dom Lorenzo (the author) identifies four ways to come to this distrust of self:

1) Learn of your own inability to get to Heaven, because you are fallen.

2) Since God wants to give us this gift of self distrust and we do not have it, ask Him for it.

3) Recognize the very dangerous situation you are in.

4) Allow your falls to teach you to distrust yourself (which will lead you to trust in God.)

Next:

Chapter 3: Of Trust in God

IN THE REAR VIEW (reflections): THE SPIRITUAL COMBAT, 1.

Image

“He does not receive the Victor’s Crown unless he fights well.” – 2 Timothy 2:5.

This is the theme verse of an intense work on the interior life of the Christian man.

The work The Spiritual Combat (read here) begins this way: “Would you attain in Christ the height of perfection, and by a nearer and nearer approach to God become one Spirit with Him?”

In the opening chapter of this 66 chapter work, the author teaches us how he views TRUE SPIRITUALITY: “It consists in nothing else but the knowledge of the goodness and the greatness of God, and of our nothingness and inclination to all evil; in the love of Him and the hatred of ourselves, in subjection, not to Him alone, but for love of Him, to all creature; in entire renunciation of all will of our own and absolute resignation to all His divine pleasure; and furthermore, willing and doing all this purely for the glory of God and solely to please Him, and because He so wills and merits thus to be loved and served.”

The task at hand, according to the author, is to identify the apparent spirituality of man, purify it, and find the most perfect way of spiritual living.

After identifying that the spiritual life requires “a continual sharp warfare against self,” the author identifies four “most sure and necessary weapons.”

1) Distrust of Self

2) Trust in God

3) Spiritual Exercises

4) Prayer

Next:

Chapter 2: Distrust of Self

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