Several months ago I referred to a book by the Australian Cistercian, Michael Casey, which I found rich in concrete insight. The book, “Fully Human, Fully Divine,” will serve as my Lenten reading. Here are a few excerpts:
When it comes to fighting sin, we need to identify and neutralize whatever nourishes its growth and increases its strength. We find this process difficult because often enough it involves renouncing things that are harmless in themselves but which, for one reason or another, happen to trigger a disproportionate response in us. Just as those with celiac disease have to avoid glutten because of a kink in their physiology, each of us needs to be aware of potential stimulants of unhealthy passions, be it a matter of lust, envy, jealousy, anger or self-depreciation. What is perfectly harmless for someone else may be deadly for us. And so we need to be aware that for us, if not for others, certain events are plague carriers.
Filling our minds with God’s good news means building into our lives a regular intake of words and images that counterbalance the contrary messages that have their origin in the interaction of concupiscence and the world around us. We need to be constantly reminded of the invisible aspects of our existences: our spiritual origin and destiny, our value in the eyes of God, the loving and forgiving presence of God in our life, the mysterious overlap of time and eternity. These things will slip from awareness unless we deliberately remember them, and then our spiritual life will slowly fade away.
As an author of books on spirituality, I reproach myself for not practicing what I sincerely preach, but, quite frankly, I know that such integrity is beyond me. The truth, however, deserves to be spoken even if those who speak it have not fully succeeded in shaping their lives according to its considerable demands.