I confessed in a recent homily that I used to be a cigarette smoker. Now I am proud to say that I quit 30 plus years ago. When I quit for good, knowing that I had no desire for another cigarette, I also learned that I could really taste food again. And I could breathe! Now, if I were still smoking and you invited me to quit, saying that if I did so, I would be able to taste and breath better again, I would not believe you. In fact, I might have resented you for saying so. But as I did quit, the notion of quitting to taste and breathe again makes perfect sense.
This will be true for any person with an addictive behavior. Tell an alcoholic that he or she has a drinking problem. No way, they would say! Such denial can get so strong that often enough an intervention team is needed to help the person with the drinking problem accept the reality that there is in fact a problem.
What is the difference, I ask you, between the above two examples and how we “hear” any challenge to live a better, deeper spiritual life? Consider the following examples:
“I don’t have to quit smoking to be able to taste and breath better! My ability to taste and breathe is good enough, thank you very much!”
“I don’t have to quit drinking to live a so-called better life! I can hold my liquor very well and I already live a great life, thank you very much!”
AND, “I don’t need to pray more, go to church more, or read spiritual books to live a better spiritual life. My spiritual life is good as it is now, thank you very much!”
The first two addictions are smoking and drinking, obvious enough. But what is the third addiction? Wouldn’t it be addiction to this world, and not the next? Addiction to my desires and not those of Christ? Addiction to sin? In any case, all three examples offer the same way of seeing the world. In these examples, there is no need to change, even though change for all three examples offers a better way of life. Can we relate to these examples? Think about them. The changes implied in all three examples offers us life. Christ holds out life to all of us, and He insists that he means a full life, and not that which we call life. May that life belong to all of us. God bless you and your families in all ways!
Peace, Fr. Walter