Habits and Addictions are chosen, as some point, because of
a lack of order in one’s life. One chooses bad habits which become addictions,
serious mortal sin. Then, the trap is so hard to break out of, one may be
tempted to despair, the ultimate last sin of many.
Rules can shape our day, and for those who work, there
exists many rules which mean we have
responsibilities to duty, to others. But, what is so easily forgotten, is that
our first time must and does belong to God.
But, we choose to deny Him the time we owe to Him as
On this day of the feast of St. Benedict, I have been
thinking of the beauty of the Rule and the scheduled hours of the typical
monastic day. Those who have been reading my blog for a long time, know how
many posts I have on order, scheduling and the necessity for good habits.
A habit of prayer or reading Scripture learned as a child or
in college, or in one’s twenties, will be part of a person’s life until they
The absolute necessity of habits cannot be emphasized
enough, and the building of habits goes hand in hand with life of the virtues.
Again, children can easily be taught to have good habits of
prayer, fasting, mortification, even meditation.
I have been reading the sermons of St. John Vianney this
week and one of the main themes in these has to do with the saint pointing out
how much time people waste in doing things which not only have nothing to do
with their salvation, but are contrary to those habits which bring about the
cooperation with grace.
I repeat two points I have made on this blog. Number one,
without a schedule, one cannot become holy. And, two good habits can be formed
in a relatively short period of time.
To look at the first consideration, again, one sees so many
people not only wasting time, but building into their daily lives the false
idea that somehow they cannot help not praying or reading Scripture.
I know many people who watch hours of television, talk or
even gossip, go shopping for hours, (for unnecessary things), spend hours on
the phone complaining to friends and family about their lives and yet tell me
they have no time to read a half-hour of Scripture or pray.
These very bad and even evil pursuits will push the Catholic
off the path to holiness, and yet, the complaint of such people is that they
have no free will to choose to pray.
This is a scary mindset. We are not guaranteed heaven by
weekly Mass or Confession once a year. To think that interruptions must be
tolerated, especially trivial ones, is simply a great lie.
Secondly, such bad habits lead to addictions. Now, many
people inherit addictive behavior from and in families. Some people have become
drug addicts and alcoholics because of environment as well as concupiscence and
But, the heresies which deny free-will deny that God has
given us enough grace to combat all addictions.
An addiction may have started as a bad habit, like coming
home from work and turning on the television, watching for hours and hours.
After a time, the addiction, which frequently turns into mortal sin, the mortal
sin of either gluttony, or greed or sloth, can also change into demonic
A bad habit repeated and repeated is an open door for the
minions of satan to take over one’s spiritual life.
Bad habits can become addictions.
As to wasting time, I wonder at people who have never had a
schedule yet tell me they do not have time to say a daily rosary.
When I was teaching college and university classes, within
the first week, I presented ways for my students to manage their time. I did
time management charts with them to show them how much time they wasted, which
could be used for homework and reflection.
One cannot learn anything without time to reflect on the
subject at hand.
Reflection leads to insight.
I pray that those who have any addictions, be it to movies
or computer games, may be enlightened to see the real sin of these repeated and
time-taking activities. The sinful or spiritually dangerous content is a
subject of another post.
But, as St.
preached, those who are mediocre in the faith, the lukewarm Catholics, will not
have the strength, nor the merits necessary for salvation, as they repeatedly
ignored the call to repentance and holiness.
John Vianney speaks
clearly that those who are mediocre and lukewarm pave their own way to hell.
These Catholics want to go to heaven but are unwilling to
break with the world around them, unwilling to make the hard choices necessary
to develop good habits of prayer.
John Vianney preaches
the importance of not shopping around for an easy confessor, but seeking out
the one who will help one break away from being a “worldling”. He reminds his
people in his sermons that they have forgotten God and only seek either
pleasure from the world, or approval from other worldlings.
He encourages all to bid farewell to the world daily by
choosing the path of God, the path of holiness.
From where I sit today, all I can see are Catholics who
really have not decided to be Catholics. One is complaining about the Church’s
teaching on contraception, that it is too harsh. One is complaining about “all”
the pedophile priests. One is living a life that teaches his children that the
minimum is enough to get into heaven.
The minimum is not enough to get into heaven. Remember,
either we are moving towards God or away from God. There is no middle
John Vianney plainly
states that one cannot choose both the world and God. He decries the hearts
which are so fixed on pleasures, which the Catholic life has been set aside for
conformity to the world.
Too often, when I am writing, I think of the many people I
know personally who have never read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, or
who do not read anything the Popes write. All my family members have not read
my blog nor will they. They do not read Catholic blogs or Catholic websites.
They then tell me that because they are in ignorance that
God will have mercy on them.
Their faith did not die a death made by some sudden blow,
but by the drip, drip, drip of the daily forgetfulness of religious duty and
the lack of love for their own souls.
I pray that God will enlighten them, just as St. John
Vianney prayed, and return to being really Catholic.
Good habits learned early bring one back to God. Bad habits
continually sidetrack one away from God and eternal life.
Not scheduling means that one is open to the winds of
distraction, the siren songs of the world, the sheer waste of time.
God forgive us and help us so that at our particular
judgment we do not suffer from the grief of seeing a wasted life, a life spent
adrift in a boat which could have been under our command. We are in control of
our daily schedules. We have free will to avoid the creation of bad habits, of
addictions, which may someday take over our lives to the point where we no
longer have free will-but we decided, at some juncture, to go on that path of
destruction-the destruction of our own spiritual lives, ending in the eternal
gnashing of teeth and pain of total separation from God.
According to some statistics, up to 60% of Americans have
addictive personalities. Part of this problem has been created by wealth, by
fast-food, by a society which denies itself nothing.
Part of the problem is that Catholics are not taught to be
moderate, or to give even when it hurts, not merely give over and above one’s
Addiction is most likely a state of mortal sin, chosen on a
long pathway, and not something which “just happened.” Too many elderly people
as well as teens have no idea that they are wasting away their lives in trivia.
They have exchange the present moment when they could be meeting God to meet
Pray, pray for self-knowledge, the only thing which helps us
be truthful to ourselves, our priests in the confessional. Pray to see the bad
habits and addictions which keep us from becoming holy.