Friday, October 19, 2018
[Then Jesus said] “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.” – Luke 11:24-26
In recovery groups, they often talk about relapse. Sobriety is entered into with sacred vows, and then … a relapse takes place … and the addiction returns … needed then a new beginning in sobriety. Here Christ, I believe, is talking about the matter of relapse in our spiritual sobriety into which we entered with sacred vows.
When I look gut honestly at my history in the Christian life, I have had my relapses. Oh, nothing so dramatic as to cause a “gasp”, but the returning of old habits, old sinful ways, in spite of my sacred vows. And it does seem true when a sinful attitude or practice returns, it tends to bring many other sinful attitudes and practices with it. And thus, I have learned from my Loved Ones in life who are in recovery that a soul is in ongoing “soul-tending“.
I have lived with this belief … that a sacrament such as baptism and communion when taken with great devotion, the mercy of God returns us to innocence and purity. Yet, it is plain and obvious that this newborn innocence and purity gives way. If we are serious and committed to daily soul-tending, the old sins return often in sanctified garb and bring it expressions of sinfulness we never knew before. We relapse. Some do through confession and mercy do begin afresh having cleaned the house within us; but so many, though I do not know how many, become accustomed to this returning guest and often cloak it with self-righteous rationalization. Thus the once-converted slowly relapse without realizing that they have.
When I was a young and even when I was less than young, I struggled with flashes of anger, momentary rages that led me to regrettable words and actions. In a certain way, my conversion was out of concern for this aspect of my life. But then … that rage would invite itself back into my life, sometimes I resisted, sometimes I relapsed. And throughout my Christian it has required much soul-tending, learning how to be angry without the demon of rage. Mind you, this is only one aspect of my sinfulness in my life that the Lord and I have needing to tend … so slowly I learned to continually return to the altar, not to be saved over and over again, but to tend to the salvation I have received.
So to those who have made their sacred vows … be mindful of your housekeeping.
Always in Christ’s Service,
Fr. Charitas de la Cruz