Lent Reflection day 18
The eighteenth chapter of Unseen Warfare has advice about an issue that is near and dear to my heart. I’ll begin with a quote from the beginning of the chapter: If, my beloved, you are not yet accustomed to overcome sudden impulses and the excitement of passions, roused, for example, by insults or by other clashes, I advise you to do this: make it a rule every morning, while you still sit at home, to review in your mind all the occasions you may meet with in the course of the day, both favorable and unfavorable, and visualize the passionate impulses, lusts and irritations they may provoke; then prepare in yourself beforehand how to stifle them at the very inception, without allowing them to develop. If you do this, you will never be taken unawares by any movements of passions, but will always be ready to resist them, without being troubled with anger or enticed by lust. This review of what may happen should be practiced especially when you have to go out and visit places where you are bound to meet people who can either attract or irritate you. Being prepared, you will easily avoid the one and the other. If a wave of passion arises, it will roll over your head or will break against you as against a rock, instead of carrying you with it like a flimsy boat. Let the holy prophet David convince you of this as regards anger, when he says: ‘I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments” (Ps. 118:60).
Some years ago when I became aware that I needed to lose weight, I started by looking at my schedule and my habits. I had a feeling that most of my eating was thoughtless, and so I started to think about it. One of the first things I noticed was that I came home every evening from church and immediately had a snack. I would walk into the house and go right to the kitchen, and as I looked through the mail or whatever, I would eat some cheese, chips, cookies, nuts, or even sometimes something more substantial. Then later I would have a good dinner. As I observed this habit, it occurred to me that on some nights I was really eating dinner before I ate dinner.
The easiest way to stop this would be to say, “don’t do that anymore.” But that didn’t work for more than a day or two. Rather, I needed to stop, physically stand still, just before walking into the house and plan ahead for what would happen. I would say a couple of Jesus Prayers, then decide exactly where I would go in my house and what I would do. On the days when I did that careful planning, I skipped the snacking. It wasn’t like I was all that hungry anyway, it was simply a habit, a passion, that I had nourished over the years.
Our morning time for prayer is very important in terms of connecting us with God and filling us with peace. But it has another function as well, when we make use of it. Unseen Warfare says it best: make it a rule every morning, while you still sit at home, to review in your mind all the occasions you may meet with in the course of the day, both favorable and unfavorable, and visualize the passionate impulses, lusts and irritations they may provoke; then prepare in yourself beforehand how to stifle them at the very inception, without allowing them to develop. I do this in terms of eating, but also we should look at meetings we have with people, entertainment we might plan to enjoy, or difficult tasks that the day will bring. We have the opportunity in the morning to bring them before the throne of the Almighty, ask for His help, and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit guiding us.
The eighteenth day of our Lenten journey has arrived, brothers and sisters, and God calls us to deeper and deeper levels of communion with Him. Give us, O God, Your Spirit, that we might walk this day with You!