November 27: St. Maximus, Bishop

The saints are models for our lives.  By reflecting on their stories, we grow in sanctity and improve in various aspects.

ST. MAXIMUS was born in Provence, France.  From his earliest years he gave evidence of more than ordinary virtue.  After living a saintly life in the world for some years, he finally retired to the famous monastery of Lerins, where he was kindly received by St. Honoratus, by whom it was governed.  When the latter had become Archbishop of Aries in 426, St. Maximus was chosen second Abbot of Lerins.

The reputation of his sanctity drew crowds to the island, and the monastery prospered under it about seven years when the See of Reiz in Provence became vacant.  Finding that he was wanted to fill it, he fled to the coast of Italy; but he was overtaken, brought back, and forced to accept the new dignity.  In this position, he continued to wear a hair shirt and to observe the monastic rule insofar as his duties allowed.

He assisted at the Council of Riez in 439, the first held in Orange in 441, and at that of Aries in 454.  He died before the year 462.

PRAYER  Almighty and ever-living God, You willed to make Bishop St. Maximus rule over Your people.  Grant by his interceding merits that we may receive the grace of Your mercy.  Amen.

From Lives of the Saints No. 870/22.

“he was overtaken, brought back, and forced to accept the new dignity.”

What a way to put it!  How would we feel if we were given a promotion at work that we really didn’t want, quit our job, moved to another city, only to be brought back and forced to work!  Many of us would resent it.  Most of us would resent it.  St. Maximus was human, so he probably resented it too, until he learned and accepted that he was doing what God willed for him to do.

Here is the key difference between the saint and everyone else: the saint puts aside his resentments for the greater glory of God!

Our stories aren’t as far from St. Maximus as you may think.  Substitute his bishopric with the program.  After I entered the program, I ran from it until God Himself dragged me back to it.  On surrendering to His will for my life, I have learned a new freedom and a new dignity!

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Own up

Humans have a tendency to want to cover up their mistakes like a cat leaving the litter box.  I say humans because this is not a trait exclusive among addicts, though addicts, especially sex addicts, seem to be the experts at this.  Like the “Private Browsing” feature?  Thank a sex addict who couldn’t remember to clear the history.

Just like the cat, however, when we try to cover  up our mistakes, we’re not fooling anyone.  When we ourselves are wronged, often the most frustrating part is that the other person wouldn’t just up own up to his actions.

It’s a common theme in twelve-step meetings to hear someone admit that the truth would have been easier; there was no benefit to lying, but lying became the normal thing to do.  It’s a habit that’s deleterious on our relationships.

Own up to your actions.  If you make a mistake, be it in your personal or professional life, admit to it.  Face the consequences.  The internet’s way of saying this is TIFU: “Today I F-ed up.”

TIFU at work.  Ten thousand excuses went through my head.  What should I say? What should I do?  In the end, I simply stated, “I messed up.”  I didn’t give an excuse.  I didn’t rationalize my actions.  I didn’t defend myself.  I simply owned up and confessed my mistake.

This vulnerability is frightening because we don’t want to face the consequences.  But we will face them regardless.  Lying only increases the consequences.  Remember, too, that people in general lie so much that the other person almost always expects a fight.  It often disarms them to let your guard down and admit your mistake.

Some time ago we had occasion to come face to face with a striking example of spiritual pride.  One of the members of [an A.A. group] was condemning certain ones for their failure to do what he thought they ought to do.  Then, “Take me for example, I go to Communion every morning, I teach my children Catechism — in fact I have arrived at a point where anything I make up my mind to do I can do it.” Strewing incense at his own shrine.  Stupidly glorifying himself.  The sequel? He’s still drunk.

-Fr. John Doe (aka Fr. Ralph Pfau)

Quoted from:

Possible things

My confessor recommended to me that I meditate on the passion so that I can come to a greater understanding of God’s love.  His instructions were to simply read a passage from the Gospel, and quietly listen for what God has to say.  Sounds simple enough.

Yesterday I was reading the 14th chapter of Mark, when Jesus is in Gethsemani.  My eyes fell upon these words, “And he saith: Abba, Father, if all things are possible to thee: remove this chalice from me; but not what I will, but what thou wilt.”

I stopped.  Something didn’t seem right.

So I read them again, this time more carefully.

And he saith: Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee: remove this chalice from me; but not what I will, but what thou wilt.

What happened?  The first time, my brain added two letters before the word all: “if.”  I added a condition to what Jesus said.  Certainly our Lord knows that all things are possible.  I’m the one who introduced doubt, my doubt.

It made me wonder: how much of my prayer life has been conditional?  Have I been praying, “If you can do this God…” rather than “If you will do this God…” or simply, “Thy will be done”?

Jesus probably prayed more than these words.  He was there for an hour.  But the evangelist records only this one bit.  Jesus affirms the power of God.  He makes His request.  Then He surrenders to His Father.

Here we have the first three steps: we admit that we are powerless over sex addiction and that only God can restore us to sanity, we come before God with our needs, humbly and sorrowfully; and we surrender our lives to Him.

Remember the passion of our Lord when working the steps.  Remember them year round, not just during Lent.  Find an hour every day to enter the garden and pray with Him.

 

Oh! My brethren, how shall we admire the loving-kindness of the Saviour? With what power, and with what a trumpet should a man cry out, exalting these His benefits! That not only should we bear His image, but should receive from Him an example and pattern of heavenly conversation; that as He has begun, we should go on, that suffering, we should not threaten, being reviled, we should not revile again, but should bless them that curse, and in everything commit ourselves to God who judges righteously. – Saint Athanasius, Letter 2.5

Going too far

When working with teenagers at my church on the subject sex and chastity, the question often asked is, “How far is too far?”

My addict brain asks the same question. “What can I do that won’t cross into my inner circle?” I would mistakenly believe that the middle circle is for behaviors I “get to do” rather than the ones that lead me to my inner circle.

The question is best answered this way: if I want to know how far I can lean over the edge of a cliff without falling, the only way I’ll find out is when I start to fall. 

Stay away from the edge.