Lent Reflection day 30
When couples come to me for pre-marriage counseling, I will often spend one session trying to convey to them the goodness of the gospel. It happens sometimes, (not often, but enough that I keep trying) that someone who had no intension of finding spiritual rebirth does indeed find it in this most unexpected place, a pre-marriage counseling session. But the other times can be very frustrating. I just had a session with a couple; the man is, in a manner of speaking, a member of this parish (baptized Greek Orthodox, never attends church, made a stewardship pledge this year only because he’s getting married, and so on) and the woman was unchurched. I spoke to them about the gospel story, Christ’s coming into this world to die for our sins and rise again. I usually like to have them respond in some way, but before I could ask them to, the man said “Very interesting, Father, very interesting.” He nodded his head at me a couple times and then at his fiancé. It was clearly the body language of a man saying, “We’re all done here, time to go.” I know from experience that the best thing to do is end the session when they do that, which I did. Occasionally the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ falls on deaf ears.
Unseen Warfare’s thirtieth chapter addresses this kind of situation, and I’ll read the whole chapter:
When the devil keeps a man in slavery to sin, he takes special care to darken him more and more by spiritual blindness, banishing from him every good thought which could bring him to realize the perniciousness of his life. Not only does he banish thoughts which could lead to repentance and turn the man to the path of virtue, but instead of them he implants evil and depraved thoughts, at the same time presenting opportunities for committing the sin which is most habitual to him, and enticing him to fall into it or into other more grievous sins as often as possible. Thus the poor sinner becomes more and more blind and darkened. This blindness strengthens in him the habit and constant impulse to go on ever sinning and sinning. Led from sinful action to greater blindness, and from blindness to greater sins, the unhappy man whirls in this vortex and will do so right up to death itself, unless special Divine grace is sent to save him.
If a man finds himself in this perilous state and wishes to be freed from it, then, as soon as a good thought, or rather, a suggestion comes to him, calling him from darkness to light and from sin to virtue, he should immediately and without delay accept it with his whole attention and desire, and put it at once into practice with all diligence, calling from the bottom of his heart to the generous Giver of all blessings: “Help me, O Lord God, help me quickly, and let me no more linger in this sinful darkness.” Let him never weary in appealing to God in these or similar words. At the same time let him also seek help on earth, by turning to those who know for advice and guidance as to how better to free himself from the bonds of sinful slavery that hold him. If he cannot do it immediately, he should do so as soon as the chance presents itself, at the same time never ceasing to appeal to Lord Jesus, crucified for us, and to His Holy Mother, the Ever-Virgin, imploring them to have mercy on him and not to deprive him of their speedy help. He should know that victory and triumph over the enemy lie in not delaying and in quick readiness to follow a right prompting.
This ends on a good note – there is hope, at least for some. Thanks to God.
Now we’ve come to the thirtieth day of our holy Lenten journey, brothers and sisters, and we are reminded that we ourselves can provide the good thought, or rather, suggestion which comes to the one wandering in darkness calling him from darkness to light and from sin to virtue.