In his meditation on the Two Standards, St Ignatius tells us how Lucifer, the chief of the enemy, “goads his innumerable demons on to lay snares for men and bind them with chains” (nn. 141-142).
The snares and chains are inveterate bad habits, addictions, blackmail, and whatever else gives the feeling of being entangled morally, spiritually, in our reputation, and with a sense of impossibility to emerge from it, of powerlessness, of being a prisoner.
St. Augustine, in his Confessions, describes that very same struggle he had between being attracted to chastity by the wonderful example of so many Christians who were chaste, and a will chained in a frightful passion of lust.
“Wretched youth that I was, I had entreated chastity of Thee and had prayed, ‘Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.’ Thus, I was sick and tormented, reproaching myself more bitterly than ever, rolling and writhing in my chain till it should be utterly broken.”
Augustine, after seeing his utter weakness to free himself, had the humility to admit it and to ask for that divine grace which he received, precisely through the inspired pages of the apostle.
He heard a young voice chanting: “‘Pick it up; read it!’ I snatched up the apostle’s book, and in silence read: ‘Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof’ (Rom. 13:13). Instantly, as the sentence ended, there was infused in my heart something like the light of full certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away.”
Any addiction can be broken by the power of grace. It is a theological certainty proven by history.
St. Paul, pray for us!
Fr. Daniel Couture