Let's Adore Jesus-Eucharist! | Home >> Lost Sermons
Life is a pain, when you're chained to bad habits.
(Peter Paul Rubens. Chained Prometheus. [Source])
You've all heard about "New Year's Resolutions". Perhaps you've even taken such a resolution, a long time ago. How could anyone claim that this is something Satanic? Let's look into this.
To understand resolutions, we first have to look at "how our head works", how our ideas are related to our behavior. Let's listen to what Antonin Eymieu says in Le Gouvernement de soi-mÍme, p. 121-122:
2.1) An idea inclines us to perform the act it represents, according to the nature of the idea and the sensitivity of the subject.
The idea's coefficient is composed of two factors:
1) The idea's quality (up to what point it is close to the senses, i.e. embodied).
2) The idea's quantity (its richness, i.e. the number of psychological elements it entails; and its complexity, i.e. the diversity of those elements).
The subject's coefficient is composed of four factors, two for the mind, and two for the body:
For the mind:
1) The ease with which ideas are associated.
2) Apathy (lack of willpower, lack of habitual resistance to the flow of ideas).
For the body:
1) Sensitivity (i.e. having "good antennas" which make us more sensitive
2) Weakness (having a fragile health, being less resistant to nervous shocks, etc.).
Given this fundamental "mechanism" of our behavior, we can better understand the necessity and effectiveness of resolutions. Let's listen again to Antonin Eymieu [pp. 153-167]:
2.2) Necessity of resolutions. This necessity is caused by the very nature of man. A resolution is the supremely human act, and a life is human, strictly speaking, only insofar as it's driven by resolutions.
Indeed, taking a resolution is seeing with one's reason and willing with one's freedom what must be done. It's therefore the indispensable condition of any progress, since to make progress we must determine a goal with one's reason, and adapt means to attain it with one's freedom.
Without resolutions, all that is left are instinctive impulses or knee-jerk reactions, and therefore a life which is degraded, which sinks into habits we haven't chosen. A life without resolutions is blown around by the changing winds of impressions. It's a dream-like life, scattered, inconsistent, absurd, an empty life, or at least empty of any good.
Even those who condemn resolutions take some, despite themselves, to remain human. The normal man for his part uses resolutions, not only to set a goal and to reach it, but also to strengthen, by exercising them, his reason and especially his freedom. Freedom, in Psychology as in Politics, must be conquered, and "practice makes perfection".
2.3) Effectiveness of resolutions. Not only are resolutions necessary, but they are also effective. It is indeed a very powerful idea, very "incarnated" or embodied, very rich and very complex. It is precise, it knows where it's going, and the path of its evolution is already traced out. Moreover, it's considered as possible, practical, doable, in such and such circumstances, in such and such a way. But even more, it appears as necessary, as "what must be done", and because of that, even though it might not psychologically expel all contrary ideas, it nevertheless weakens them, or reverses their influence by presenting them as bad and despicable.
Finally, this idea is decided, resolved; we think about its accomplishment with pleasure, we anticipate it, and this act to be done appears to us as having been done already, as being part of ourselves. On top of the energy coming from such an idea, such a wealth and complexity of thoughts, it receives the impetus of the will which puts at its disposal the current mastery it has over the organism's forces.
Well! If the slightest idea, the faintest idea cannot pass through us without leaving an impulsive force, I tell you that the idea of the necessary and resolved thing, that the resolution gives an enormous boost to the corresponding action.
A society is not a chimney. A chimney is built of bricks. You stack up bricks one on top of the other, and at some point of time you have a chimney.
A society, in a way, is built up of "spiritual bricks", i.e. resolutions. Look at the society which surrounds you, and ask yourself what it's composed of, in the final analysis. Think about the police forces, for example. A policeman has a uniform, a badge, often a firearm. But what distinguishes a true policeman from a uniformed bandit? What happens when policemen abandon their resolution to serve and to protect? The material objects they had remain the same (uniform, badge, pistol), but the "spiritual brick" shatters, crumbles, and disappears. Many Third-World countries can bear witness to the woes that fall upon a society, when the "police brick" loses its consistency.
Think about banks. Do you think that the money in your bank account is really inside a big vault, with your name on a stack of dollar bills? Not at all. It's just a number written somewhere on a piece of paper, or even less than that, a few atoms of iron oxide that are magnetized in one way or another on a computer's hard drive. If the banks decide to abandon their resolution to give you back your money when you ask for it, you're broke.
Think about politicians. Do you really have rights, protected by the civil authorities? Yes, as long as politicians keep their resolution to respect justice. If politicians decide, for example, that a group of citizen's doesn't have rights anymore, then these citizens will be simply exterminated. (Unfortunately, real-life occurrences of this are not in short supply, and not only in Nazi Germany during the last century.)
Continue your analysis. The Physician's Code of Ethics? Resolution. The faithfulness of spouses to each other? Resolution. The car which is heading for you and which should brake because they're on a red light? Resolution. The Catholic Priest who dedicates his life to preaching the Gospel? Resolution. In the final analysis, a society's health depends on the capacity of its citizens to make and keep good resolutions.
Satan doesn't have huge biceps, or money, or an army, but he's the owner of a kind of big marketing consulting firm. Satan is a liar, and the father of lies. Since Satan wants to destroy everything that is good in our society, he must attack the very substance of the "spiritual bricks" that make it up. Therefore, Satan does everything he can to give bad publicity to good resolutions.
One of Satan's favorite tricks is to throw dirt on the reputation of resolutions, using his famous "New Year's Resolutions" ad campaign. The poor gullible suckers who bite this diabolical fishhook always bitterly repent afterward. The New Year arrives, and they are filled with good intentions, so they leap! "Quick, I must run a marathon right away, since I'm fat! And at the same time I'll do my Income Tax Return, since I'm always late! And while I'm running with my computer and my bundles of invoices under one arm, I'll hold a paintbrush in my mouth and a canvas under the other arm (since I've been wanting to learn oil painting for years!)."
What are the probabilities of success for such an endeavor? About zero! But this is exactly what Satan wants: he wants people to take as few resolutions as possible, and to take them as incorrectly as possible, in conditions which practically guarantee their failure, and especially, that they create as many bad memories as possible.
I'm not an expert in the field, but here are a few tips that will help you take better resolutions, sorted roughly in decreasing order of importance:
5.1) Consult your spiritual director. To lose weight with a diet, it is strongly recommended to consult one's family doctor before, and during the diet. In the same way, to get rid of our vices and to write up and implement our Life Plan, it's strongly recommended to find a good spiritual director. Often, he will "cool our enthusiasm" in the beginning, and help us get back on our feet and avoid discouragement later on.
5.2) Prayer and Sacraments. Since Original sin, the initial harmony of man has been disrupted by sin. It's impossible to act in conformity with reason, more than sporadically, without God's Grace. Without neglecting natural means, we must regularly resort to the Sacrament of Penance or Confession, and the Eucharist. We must also pray always, and have a correct devotion to the Virgin Mary.
5.3) Thought discipline. The strategic high ground you must occupy so your freedom can dominate the battlefield are your thoughts. "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on those things." [Ph 4:8].
5.4) Configure your physical environment favorably. See among others some factors listed in Section #2 of The Catholic Church and Sex-Voodoo.
5.5) Support your resolutions with ideas that are embodied, rich and complex. Why do you want to take such a resolution? Make a long list of all the good reasons, with striking images, memories from your personal experiences, motivations rooted in your most noble ideals, etc.
5.6) Take smaller resolutions, and take them more often. Victory breeds victories, so we have to set up conditions that will as far as possible guarantee victories, lots of victories, especially in the beginning. If you've resolved to respect your diet, for example, you can take your resolution in the morning, and then again during the part of the day you find it the most difficult not to overeat.
5.7) Make your resolutions specific. Avoid resolutions like "I'll be a good girl or a good boy from now on". Specify the nature, the starting date and time, the ending date and time, circumstances, etc.
5.8) Learn more on the topic. Many books have been written on resolutions and related topics.
5.9) Renew in writing, with date and signature. Don't forget we're talking about "spiritual bricks". If you forget your resolution, it's just as if you had never taken it. But if your resolution to respect your diet is posted on your fridge, for example, with each day your signature in red with the date, you increase your chances of remembering it!
5.10) Run away from temptations. For example, if you're on a diet, stay away from delicatessens. If you have problems with alcohol, stay away from bars and other places where alcohol is present, and so on.
5.11) Beware of discouragement. Discouragement is one of the worst enemies of our moral life. We have at least three ways to fight it: (1) clearly realize the stupidity of discouragement (We already have little courage, and we take away from ourselves what little we have left! It is much better not to fall, but one error is better than two, and 99 is better than 100); (2) we must act as if we were not discouraged; (3) we have to give our life a great passion, a noble ideal.
5.12) Never question a resolution on the spot. In the precise moment when your resolution must kick in, never question it. Wait until you are no longer "in the heat of the battle", if ever you think that you should modify or eliminate a resolution.
5.13) Avoid "destructive" rewards. When you keep a resolution, it's probably not appropriate to "reward" yourself by permitting the thing you are trying to eliminate! For example, if you respect your diet for one day, and you "reward" yourself with a huge bowl of chocolate ice cream, you're taking one step forward, and two steps back! You're associating "diet" with "pain", and "lack of diet" with "pleasure". The type of association you're trying to establish is exactly the contrary!
Good resolutions prevent us from falling apart morally, and societies cannot be built unless there is a sufficient supply of individuals who don't "crumble spiritually" under moral pressures.
As Antonin Eymieu [p. 166] says so well, a good resolution must be "luminous, cogent, supported by strong and numerous motives, by the memories of the past, by the anticipations of the future, dug in, intertwined with all the details of our conscience, associated with vivid images, warm emotions, and rooted in the most precise and tangible reality."
"When all of these elements are rammed down the barrel of our mind, and we detonate them with one of those I shall which resonates throughout the soul like the firing of a howitzer, then the resolution is made, and it will reach its target."
Let's Adore Jesus-Eucharist! | Home >> Lost Sermons