Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Screwtape's Temptations

Several years ago, I started reading "The Screwtape Letters," a novel by C.S. Lewis that is composed of a series of letters from a demon named Screwtape to his nephew, Wormwood.   In the novel,  Screwtape gives advice to Wormwood about undermining faith and promoting sin.    It is not an easy read and I gave up on it.  I think I should try to read it again because I think it could give me more insight on what is going on in my life more than any self-help book possibly could.

About a month ago, I was texting back and forth with my wife and she sent me a text.   It said something to the effect of, "The devil works overtime on getting to you."   The statement caused me to pause and reflect on my life the last few years and I believe God gave me the grace to catch a glimpse of the spiritual warfare that is going on for my soul.  The exciting part of this grace is being able to realize that the devil may be putting in overtime on getting my soul but God is working even harder keeping it.

When I say, God's given me a glimpse at the spiritual warfare it has not been I've watched a great battle between legions of angels and demons.   It is not a sideline view of Gettysburg taking place in the cosmos.   It is more like a realization of the supernatural battle that is going on around me.   By that, I mean, I have seen temptations to sin being presented to me and walked towards those temptations.  Then obstacles were placed in front of me that prevented me to succumb to those temptations.

If it had occurred one time, I would have chalked it up to circumstances.   Twice would have been a coincidence.  I saw it repeatedly happen to me though.  It was enough that I was struck by how often it was occurring to me.

I sure a theologian would say something to the effect that God may give us graces to make decisions not to sin but He would not present physical obstacles to them because He gives us free will.  To this, I would present the counter argument; I literally gave God permission to remove these obstacles.  

Several years ago, I learned a prayer from Mark Hart, a catholic youth speaker and I have been repeating this prayer for the last couple of months.   The prayer goes something like this, "Lord, I grant you permission, to remove anyone, or anything, that keeps me from you."

This is a very powerful prayer.  It is a very difficult prayer to say too.   You may think it's a easy prayer.  After all, we ask God in different prayers, "not my will, but Your will be done" or  "lead us not into temptation" but this is different.   In this prayer, you are giving power over to God.  You are asking Him to remove something from your life that is already there.  

I encourage you to include this prayer into your repertoire of prayers.   I say we cause Uncle Screwtape to work double time.  

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Remember Who You Are

Over the last several years, while on my spiritual wanderings and tribulations, I repeatedly heard advice thrown at me along the lines of I needed to figure out who I was and how to be my own person.    I was told I had a lot to figure out about myself and who I wanted to be.     These are all good pieces of advice for someone who is struggling.     I best advice I got, did not challenge me to change, but challenged me to "remember who I am."  

This grace came to me while standing at a Royals game.   Remember who I am . . .

I wish the challenge to "remember who I am" had come to me in the form of Mufasa's head in the clouds and in the voice of James Earl Jones like in The Lion King but, more often than not, God speaks to us in silence and not in great meteorologic events.  

Who am I?    I am primarily, a husband, a father, and a child of God.    Of course, I'm also a son, a brother, a cop, a friend and several other things.    But . . . who am I?   What is . . . my vocation?  It is that of a husband, a father, and a child of God.

For too long, I had found those things to be too challenging and pushed them away.   I did not realize it at the time but I was avoiding those responsibilities and doing a really poor job at them.  My path to happiness, though, is to accept those roles and their responsibilities and receive the graces that come along with them.

I mentioned in another post "The Running Sheep," I had received advice from my therapist to seek spiritual advice.     That evening, at the Royals game, when I heard to the call to remember who I was, I texted a priest friend of mine and made arrangements to meet with him.   This was my prodigal son moment when I recalled not only "who I am" but "whose I am" and when the Father came down the path to meet me---which is much better than talking to me as a head in the clouds.