For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand.
For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translation
What a sorrow it is for us as followers of Christ to experience our own sinfulness, to realize with Saint Paul that, however much we approve of the good and desire to do it, too often we end up doing exactly the opposite of what we wanted to do. It is like an addiction over which we are pretty much powerless, what Saint Ignatius would call an inordinate attachment.
In his book Addiction and Grace, Gerald May says that besides the classical addictions to alcohol, drugs, sex, etc., there are many other things over which we—all of us—may be powerless, and often a number of them. That’s the bad news.
The Good News is that when we realize our powerlessness, we will realize as well our need for a Savior, and although we are wounded the wound is an opening through which God’s grace can enter into our lives.
—Fr. Peter Fennessy, S.J. is a retreat director and spiritual counselor at Manresa Jesuit Retreat House, Bloomfield Hills, MI.
Only in God will my soul be at rest. From him comes my hope, my salvation.
He alone is my rock of safety, my strength, my glory, my God
—”Only in God,” © 1976, John B. Foley, S.J. and New Dawn MusicPlease share the Good Word with your friends!