Friday, August 17, 2007

Renouncing All Things

1. If we want God to take possession of our souls, we must drive out every inordinate affection to earthly things. It is not possible for God to dwell within us if we are still attached to sin or preoccupied with worldly aims.

God should reign supreme in us and inspire all our desires and actions. This can never happen if we retain an attachment to deliberate sin, even if it is not grave sin. In the case of venial sin, it is not so much the sin which prevents God from ruling us absolutely as the attachment to sin.

It is possible for anybody to fall through human weakness, for the just man falls seven times and rises again (Prov. 24:16). It is when we remain willingly in the state of sin that we offend God and weaken our faith and charity. At such times it is as if Jesus were asleep within us, as He slept in the boat during the storm on the lake of Galilee, when the terrified Apostles cried out: Lord, save us! We are perishing! (Mt. 8:25) We must keep ourselves free from all trace of sin if we wish to remain intimately united with God and to be governed only by Him.

2. Another necessary condition for Christ's reign in our souls is that we should destroy our love of self. Our Lord charged us: If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (Mt. 16:24). It is easier to renounce the goods of this world than it is to deny ourselves. It is so difficult to renounce one's own ego that at first sight it seems impossible. Nevertheless, God demands this of us if we intend to be perfect Christians and to be completely free to dedicate ourselves to Him.

God wishes to be absolute master of our souls because this is His right as our Creator and Redeemer. If we succeed in conquering our self-love and in desiring only whatever is pleasing to God, we shall find liberty and peace. We shall be able to claim with St. Paul: It is now no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me (Gal. 2:20).

3. Self-renunciation involves also the surrender of other attachments, such as the love of worldly honours, ambition, the desire for success, and many other affections which would hinder us from living the life of God. When we have arrived at a state of indifference to illness or health, wealth or poverty, life or death, we shall be able to say that we have completely renounced self, because God alone will reign within us. When we have striped ourselves of all alien affections, God will be our absolute Sovereign and we shall be really rich.