Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by my own selfishness. I read about the lives of the saints, and I ache to be like them. I want to live without thought of my own self-indulgence, but that is a high mountain to climb. I think of the apostles and early Christians, but I also think of modern saints and martyrs. St. Silouan the Athonite, St. John Maximovitch, and on and on. They loved people and laid their lives down so whole-heartedly that I am alternately inspired and on the verge of despair. And lest I excuse myself because neither of these blessed men were married, there’s also St. John of Kronstadt. It’s true he and his wife lived as virgins, but they did eventually adopt a daughter. That added a layer of difficulty.
This world is may be less conducive to a saint’s life than some other times because of the proliferation of temptation, but could I say it’s worse than Soviet Russia, which was the time of St. John Maximovitch? Probably not. I am not being displaced or tortured. Instead I am being lulled to sleep, or shamed for not blending with new cultural norms.
How can I go about conquering self-indulgence? In some ways this seems like a tougher nut to crack than lust. Possibly because it is much more acceptable, even in “Christian culture.” I feel like I’m on the outer edge of some real answers. The Psalms are a wonderful, powerful tool, but when I drift toward indulgence I leave off my reading. It’s as though the chief symptom of my sickness is that I stop taking my medicine.Celebration of Discipline is a great resource that has been around for a long time, but I think going back to more original sources is better. Foster stands on the shoulders of giants (I feel certain he would acknowledge this). I need to know what the “giants” (they would NOT acknowledge themselves to be giants) themselves did.
But this little thought shoots me back to the beginning of this entry. I fall short.
At the same time though, they were human. Humans can serve God. Humans can experience intimacy with him. Humans can be in union with him. That’s what I want–the core of my desires. I fail, and God is merciful. I don’t want to hover over the same errors forever, though.
I am very glad that God is love.