Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wanting to be good

Today is the feast of St. Monica. Monica is one of my favorite saints. She was a wife and mother and a devout Christian. Her son, Augustine (of Hippo) became one of the greatest saints of the Church. But, he was not always such a paragon of virtue, spending his days, instead, on dissolute living, wine, women and song. Monica prayed for him constantly; praying that he would come to know God and turn away from this destructive lifestyle.

He was not so willing to give all the pleasures of the flesh up, though. One of his earliest prayers was this: "Lord, make me want to want to be good." It is hard to give up sins that make you feel so good and give you such power and excitement

I heard a homily one time that likened sin to shadows. It's true that making shadow plays on the wall can be fun and even entertaining, but the danger in exploring them too deeply is that they then hide the light from you. Shadows that were once a fun diversion, become terrifying in the night. But yet, there is something engaging and interesting in a shadow, otherwise, why would we play with them. The other thing about shadows is that when you are inside them, you don;t always notice that you are hidden from the light. You think you can see, but really, you are just shaded from the brightness and everything is dimmer because of it.

Sin is the same way. There is something vaguely interesting about sin, otherwise, we wouldn't sin. The danger is that sin can take over your life and hide your soul from the light of God, darkening your world and leaving you alone and terrified. Oftentimes, I don't even realize when I am in a state of sin. It can be that insidious. Sometimes I will make rationalizations that justify my behavior, but really, they just hide me more and more from the light.

Change doesn't happen overnight and conversion is an ongoing process. Right now, I just want to want to be good. I want God to put the desire in my heart to be a good person and to want to choose to do the right thing.

I know my mom is praying for me, just like St. Monica prayed for her lost souls. (And it's no accident that Mom's confirmation name is is it?). I am awfully glad that St. Monica persisted in her prayer, otherwise I would be lacking the hope that St. Augustine's amazing conversion story gives me.

Lord, make me want to want to be good.

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