The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak
Sometimes I receive emails from people who experience a “forbidden passion”; that is to say, they’re infatuated, or have fallen in love, with a person they will never be able to marry. Long ago, the philosopher Blaise Pascal said that “the heart has its reasons that reason doesn’t understand.” How can we rationally explain that a married woman’s heart has become inflamed with passion for a co-worker, or vice-versa? Certainly, there are reasons for it, but our mind gets confused; it doesn’t understand that “logic.”
A young woman wrote to me saying that she has been in love with a priest for a long time. She is a catechist at his parish, and she knows that she cannot be in a relationship with him, much less marry him. Nonetheless, her passion for him stubbornly continues, and it pains her heart. She is “lovesick.”
A young man wrote me saying that he loves his wife, with whom he has two beautiful children, but now he has fallen deeply in love with a colleague at work. What now? What can he do? He told me that he can’t get her out of his head, even when he’s embracing his own wife. It’s a forbidden love. What is the solution? Certainly, many people throw reason out the window and and hurl themselves into the abyss of their hearts… and it causes terrible damage. What’s the solution? There is only one: to mercilessly uproot the evil desire, without mercy for the cries of the heart. If a passion is forbidden, it must be torn up by the roots, as much as it may hurt us. The weed cannot be allowed to grow, or else it will kill the good tree.
Of course, it isn’t easy to uproot a forbidden passion, because to do so is a rational decision that the heart doesn’t share; it continues to cry like a cat abandonned on the roof by its partner. Jesus gave us the cure: “Watch and pray,” because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Therefore, the thing to do is flee. If a passion is forbidden, it is poisonous; we must run from poison. Many go to the depths of the abyss only to try to get back out; it’s a huge risk. It’s true that the best view is the one which we see from the “limit of the abyss”, but one false step can ruin everything.
So then, the solution, even if it makes us cry, is to flee; pray, beg God for the grace to cut off the relationship at its root. No more conversations, letters, forbidden emails, and light caresses… What is out of sight, out of earshot, and out of reach, is out of mind. The only escape from a forbidden passion is to run away, as we would from any other danger.
At this point you are probably saying, “but that’s very difficult!” Yes, I’d say, it’s almost impossible without God’s grace, without prayer and heroism. However, it’s a beautiful gift that you give to God, because the more difficult it is for you to do God’s will, the happier he is when you do it; it is more meritorious for you. The harder it is to say “No!” to a forbidden passion, the more that decision pleases God and frees you from danger. Even if the thorns of the rose pierce your soul, offer God pure, perfumed flowers of a heart that belongs to him.
Translated from the Spanish by Matthew Green