...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 11:32 AM [+]
I suppose one could assume that if you are actually making plans to sin that there is a serious malfunction in the heart. It is one thing to "stumble into" sin, but quite another to scheme your way into its clutches. Perhaps everyone, if they think hard enough about it, can find a scenario in which they are indeed making such plans - sometimes very subtly and without a great deal of conscious effort. Other times, however, one may with unsinkable hubris deliberately light the last boiler so as to steam full speed ahead into the icy darkness of the North Atlantic. Confession to follow once the RMS Carpathia arrives on scene.
But plans needn't be long and drawn out to be no less plans. What I mean to imply is that when you get down to a detailed analysis of the "Spiritual Warfare", there is always SOME degree of planning going on. It doesn't matter if the initial prompting arose from within or without, an effort is made to engage and entertain the prompting. Even something as seemingly instantaneous as yelling at the kids does in fact have a process of prompting, decision, and planning before it actually happens. A key to fighting such day to day sins, I gather, is to be able to recognize the existence of this lightening fast process and by so doing empower yourself to thwart it (careful: God is the source of this...I have seen first hand the disaster that follows neglecting to see God as the author and finisher of such empowerment - in fact my terminology is very likely ill-rendered here but as I can think of nothing more apt in this early morning trip across the sound I will let it remain.)
If one is unable, or I should say unwilling, to sabotage a sin planning process that is blatantly obvious and may run over a period of minutes or even days, then one is certainly not going to have any success in the "little everyday" battles that last seconds. What to do?
Maybe one needs to make and engage a different set of plans and by that I mean plans for holiness. Naturally everyone tends to think immediately of prayer and the need to offer our orthodoxos to God more regularly. Surely this is so, but in my own life I can see that it is also surely not all that we can do. We can immerse ourselves into a habit of holiness without becoming the equivalent of lay monastics - though perhaps the world would see it as such.
For instance turn the television off. I get some of the strangest looks from people when I tell them we don't have cable of satellite or even an antenna to watch any broadcast television, so clearly this makes us oddballs of sorts. And while our decision was both fiscal and quality time related, I have no doubt it has benefited me. That said, don't under estimate the mind's ability to find ways to waste time and entertain itself with meaninglessness. A wise priest once told me that simply cutting oneself off from the ability to commit a particular sin will simply open a door to some other sin. In other words you are not getting to the root of the matter. That said, media (and television in particular) is a powerful source of influence I believe...I still have vivid memories of media experiences from ages ago - like being haunted sometimes. Has losing regular access to television bettered me? Heck , I don't know...but I am certainly not worse for it! Whatever benefit I have failed to gain I am certain I neglected on my own.
Get off the internet. To no small degree, the internet has replaced my television habits. Sometimes this period of time is fruitful (case and point being this bit of reflection right now) and sometimes it is not so fruitful (reading political news) and other times - of course - it is down right destructive (no example needed). But this is time I could be reading, studying, talking to family members, praying, singing, or WORKING. Yes, working, I believe, is a habit of holiness. I have a long list of such opportunities available to me.
Much of my life has seen periodic spurts of tremendous interest and energy into a variety of issues, concepts, or hobbies. Short-lived and ultimately never amounting to much. It's a waste. Part of making a plan for a habit of holiness I think means restraining these passion-ridden expeditions into whatever it may happen to be to catch my interest. Think of a fish and shiny lures...that's me.
FOCUS. DISCIPLINE. PLANNING.