And they turned their eyes from Heaven: Susanna Part 1

Earlier I posted the story of Susanna from the book of Daniel, usually listed as Daniel 13.  This story is considered canonical by Catholic, Orthodox, and other Christians, but not by Protestants or Jews.  Nevertheless, it is a beautiful story about justice and purity.

I would like to post a few short reflections on some salient verses.  Today, verses 9-11:

And they perverted their minds and turned away their eyes from looking to Heaven or remembering righteous judgments. Both were overwhelmed with passion for her, but they did not tell each other of their distress, for they were ashamed to disclose their lustful desire to possess her. And they watched eagerly, day after day, to see her.

At the beginning of the story we see that the two judges, who were pillars of the community both in legal and religious settings, were gradually becoming infatuated with the daughter of a wealthy and powerful man.  Neither one acted immediately on his lust.

First, they neglected their prayers.  Rather than occupy their minds with prayer, they “perverted” (which means turned, changed, or distorted) their minds.  Once in confession, I mentioned that I committed X and Y sins, and then I stopped praying.  The priest asked me if I was sure it was in that order.  Of course, it wasn’t.  We are much more likely to act out when we stop communicating with God, our Higher Power, than the other way around.

Second, their work suffered.  The judges put their law work aside in favor of their lustful desires.  How many of us sex addicts have acted out at work?  How many hours of productivity have been lost?  How many of us were caught and perhaps even lost our jobs?  We lose sight of our relationship with God, then we lose sight of the important matters of the world.

Third, they turned inward. One of the greatest virtues of the twelve-step programs is accountability.  We share at the meetings.  We call on our sponsors.  We examine our consciences regularly.  Here the two judges became silent.  Their shame drove them inward to themselves.  They didn’t talk or admit their problems.  Instead, they spent the day fantasizing rather than judging, ogling rather than praying.  It drove them to obsession.

Next, as we shall see, the consequences are all-too-familiar.

Advertisements

Eighth Station

As they led him away they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus. A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’ – Luke 23:26-29

Today is Good Friday, the day we recall the passion and death of our Lord.  Many people have reflected upon the stations of the cross on the Fridays of Lent, especially today.

The Eighth Station has always stood out in my sex addict mind.  Sex addicts, men and women alike, often engage in behaviors that are risky.  For some, the risk of an unwanted pregnancy is like the risk of getting caught in a public place.  It increases the thrill, until you are actually caught or conceive a child.

These unwanted pregnancies are a mark of behavior we regret.  While some people can welcome the child lovingly into their lives, some of us may resent the child, and many of us choose to give the child up for adoption or to have an abortion.  For both women and men, these last two choices often come with a great deal of shame and guilt.  We lose our own flesh and blood on account of our addiction.

So, indeed, we may find ourselves crying out, “Blessed are the barren!” Perhaps you’ve thought to yourself, “if I were sterile, I could sleep around without worrying about the burdens of pregnancy.” Maybe you’ve made yourself sterile for that very reason. We do some elaborate things for this master we call sex addiction.

Whatever shame and guilt you have, offer it to Jesus on the cross.  He gave His flesh to free us from the sins of the flesh.  He died to destroy our guilt and shame.  And we know that He rose to restore us to new life, not only in Heaven, but here and now.

The grace of the cross is given in the sacraments. Go to confession! God is waiting for you.