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“Treat Yo’self!”: When small indulgences take over


Elizabeth Scalia - published on 03/13/17

Reading the lives of the saints will inform your perspective and provide models of behavior that can help you learn about detachment from everything that is not God’s will for you, and that would include the tendencies toward excessive self-indulgence that can ultimately pull you away from the spiritual practices that keep you grounded and open to grace. It won’t happen overnight, I am proof of that, but in the course of time, little by little, saint by saint, lectio by lectio, and sometimes decade by decade, the desire to “treat yo’self” changes in subtle ways, until nothing feels like a better treat than doing something generous for someone else, instead of yourself.

Be Mindful of Your Guardian Angels: Despite the brief angel craze of the 1990s, very few people really take their guardian angels seriously, but they are an ever-faithful source of assistance, if we will only remember to ask for their help. I talk to my guardian angel every day – I ask for help with my prayer (especially with the Rosary; if I am tired, I will begin by asking my angel to pray it with me, and complete it for me if I fall asleep); I ask my angel to please meet up with the guardian angel of those I am will be meeting with later, especially if there is contention between us; I ask my angel to assist the angels of those I love, if they are in difficult or dangerous circumstances. I also ask my angel to be with me when I am feeling tempted to sin – to pray for me and uphold me and, if I’m really feeling like I am going to fall – to do battle with the tempter who has ensnared me.

I will confess that I do not always ask my angel to help me to avoid sin, but those are always time when – being perfectly honest, here – I want to indulge my sin, and I fully intend to sin; I don’t avail myself of the assistance that is mine for the asking, because I know it will come; my angel will come to my aid, and I will probably not get to do the thing I know I shouldn’t do but want to do so badly. I choose poorly.

We forget how awful grave sin can feel until we give ourselves permission to indulge in it. We stupid, broken humans do that, sometimes; it is the very definition of mortal sin: to willfully give oneself over to the thing we know we should not want and thus pull ourselves away from grace.

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