28 January 2018

Last Will and Testament


The 11th of 15 in a Series of Meditations on the 15 daily intentions offered by members of the Angelic Warfare Confraternity.
Wherein we pray for our Will: that it may never be opposed by our sensuality, that it may never be divided or conflicted in the moment, that it may hold fast to chastity no matter how difficult it may be.
I've been discovering that will goes hand in hand with courage,  and it's curious that courage, per se, never comes up in these intercessions. But the will is there. What's the content of not-fearing? St Paul opposes timidity and anxiety to singleness of mind (focus on Jesus). Jesus does the same with Martha and Mary. This seems like will - the mind locked in on one single fixed point. Jesus accuses Peter and the Apostles of fear and timidity because the do not trust God. These are moments of lacking in courage which comes from the French word related to "heart". Heart does show up at Intention #13, but it's heart as center of being. Courage, which means "heart".

You gotta have heart, miles and miles and miles of heart...
Fear then is a weakening of the will, and a lack of heart, and also a failure to surrender in trust to God (#14). Finally, fear is a failure in love (#15). Fear as product is woven into 4 of the final five intercessions - which, by the way, I've only just discovered as I was writing.  This is the content of fearing: weakness of will, failure to surrender to God, a failure of heart, and a lack of love. I can add this to the 5th of the five payers as well (conscience), but it's only as a secondary issue. 

Will is one of those powers of the soul that for my own experience is almost entirely corrupted. It's not enough to will something. One's will (like one's conscience, as we will see in a couple of essays) has to be entirely in conformity with Christ before it can do any good, before it can be a tool for one's salvation.

It is not enough to will to overcome a sin, if one refuses to call on Jesus for help. It's not enough to will to do good for one's neighbor if one does it to make one's self look good in the eyes of others (or one's own eyes). It's not enough to fix the walls of your neighbor's house if you do so to protect your property values and make a good sale. One's will must be in conformity with the Will of God in Christ Jesus.

This thing? I just saw it in a window....
(Accidental Gentrification: when you improve a couple of properties, and make a sale, driving up the assessment and so, the taxes, on everyone else's houses who then must move because they cannot afford the taxes on their family's longtime home.)

We tend to get mired in self will: "I'm doing this. "I've got this." We forget the reason we do Good is not to earn God's favor (as if we could) but because God wills us to do Good. I should give to the poor because I own nothing and all I have comes from God for the explicit sharing - without judgment - with those around me. I note Judgment: I know folks who won't give money because maybe drugs and alcohol will transpire. But, I ask, were you going to do anything more moral with the money before you were asked to give it away? Giving Charity only because I get a tax write off is not giving to Charity. 

Saving yourself for marriage isn't the same thing as saving yourself for God. No one around here is good enough for me does not answer the question of what happens when someone is, in fact, good enough and still doesn't want to get married.

We are not praying to be strong willed. Certainly not when what we have is self will. It's that bit about bringing the will into conformity with God's will that is the hardest, I think praying that our will not cave in or be swayed will do nothing if it's not in conformity with God's will. And if it is in conformity with God's will, then his grace is sufficient in our weakness. We are praying for our will to grow in strength, though. This is a function of grace, not of will-power. Will-power is what one uses to stay on a diet in a sitcom. Anyone who has stayed on a diet in real life knows that it takes will, and support of friends, and healthier choices, and dealing with some mental health around body image issues, etc. etc. The will, per se, is most likely involved in other bits (I will to feel good about myself... and right now feeling good is this ice cream.) Being strong-willed in that instance will result in a lot of ice cream and a big blow-off to anyone who gets in our way. Chastity programs based on will have the same results.

Twelve Steppers know that, in fact, the first issue is that of powerlessness. We must admit that we are powerless and that by virtue of our floundering in powerlessness, we have, in fact, ruined our lives. Admitting our powerlessness we  decided we needed God to take this on for us and help us grow to a place where we were strong enough to join him in this struggle. This movement towards chastity is exactly the same: we are turning everything over to God and asking him to help us grow up to join him in the fight. By the time that growing has been accomplished, we may well be dead.

This realization of a Spiritually dead will (that needs reviving) is one that concerns me deeply. Fr Benedict Groeschel's Courage to be Chaste is an important work that never seems to get to the spirituality of chastity. Ditto, Mattson's Why I Don't Call Myself Gay and some Catholic discussions on pron addiction. Also the entire program of Courage, itself. These all seem to rely on a secular, therapeutic model of human sexuality that is, really, just one step away from "do what Thou wilt shall be the whole of the law". I will follow God because I feel like it is the best we can come up with on Self Willed Self Improvement.  My will might make other choices later.

Take my will, God, and make it over into thy Will. Then I will be able to all the better hand it over to Thee. 

This is the only true freedom there is.

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