Poor, Silly Self

Several points occur to me. I offer them in no particular order, and as always of course in full recognition that “God is more wise”.

1. While a regular schedule, physical exercise, adequate sleep, and lectio divina are important—indeed essential—elements in the spiritual life, they are nonetheless extrinsic and circumstantial; it is nepsis, inward attentiveness, that is the key.

2. It is no surprise at all that such a long-standing and deep-rooted tendency should persist in spite of these and other external precautions; your imagination (as you mentioned recently) is in need of a radical reformulation.

3. The sin you committed is indeed the “same” sin as in the past, but the results are evidently not the same; you have clearly learned something: what the Fathers say about the stages of temptation—in particular, the “sleepiness” and “dreaming” that make possible our “coupling” with the provocations that come our way—has become existentially real to you.

4. So no, you have not simply returned to a Sisyphean starting point. Whatever happens to us, and whatever we do, is an occasion for self-observation and deepened insight. You have seen yourself sin yet again, and it is disgusting, ugly, and a little frightening that you seem such a fool. “Poor, silly self”, you can say; “perhaps this time I can really learn from his mistake.”

5. Tears can be a gift. I understand that what you described may have been mostly tears of frustration, thus tinged with egoism. Nonetheless they seem to betoken a desire truly to change. God willing, they will continue as effects of a genuine liquefaction.

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