"Are we prepared to promote conditions in which the living contact with God can be reestablished? For our lives today have become godless to the point of complete vacuity. God is no longer with us in the conscious sense of the word. He is denied, ignored, excluded from every claim to have a part in our daily life." - Alfred Delp, S.J.

Friday, June 14, 2013

If your _____ causes you to sin, castrate.

Supposedly Origen did.

Today's Gospel has Jesus telling his listeners - us, "if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out.  If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off."  I was always told Church Father, Origen castrated himself, either because he had very strong temptations , wasn't 'master of his domain', and or, because he would be teaching women.  Perhaps it was just self-loathing?  Who knows, huh?  Some say that is why he cannot be a saint, however it may be more accurate to explain his rejection for canonization on account of a little bit of heresy called Origenism, which tainted an aspect of his teaching.  (Read about him here.)

Truth be told, at one point in my young life I thought it might be a necessary procedure for myself, if it wasn't for the fact I was always pretty proud of my manhood and experienced a sort of terror at the thought of losing it.  You go through some crazy stuff when suffering through extreme temptations.  Which may explain why I'm still alive, to prove that one doesn't have to go to such lengths to keep the commandments.  Sorry, TMI.

"Sin speaks to the sinner in the depths of his heart."

Christ's words are hyperbole, yet they reveal the demands necessary to keep the commandments and follow him.  Remember how John of the Cross 'cried out' as to the self denial Christ commands of us in The Ascent? "Oh who can make this counsel of our Saviour understandable... Oh who can explain the extent of the denial our Lord wishes of us..."  When Christ says we must deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him - he doesn't mean we should be walking to the bus dragging a huge cross behind us, no more than he wants us to go around gloomy when we fast or give up things, or stand on the street corners or in the blogosphere, adjusting our phylacteries while proclaiming how virtuous we are.

"it is out of the heart that evil thoughts come..." [Matt. 15:19]

An alcoholic quits drinking - he cuts it off.  He avoids people, places and things that 'cause him to sin' - that lead him to sin.  Matt Talbot did that.  He quit the pub, I think he even avoided walking past the the old hang out for awhile.  Until he got stronger, until his spirit matured.  Matt didn't need to worry about his old friends leading him astray, drinkers don't usually like being around non-drinkers, his drinking buddies were nowhere to be found after his conversion.   Therefore we see how Talbot cut off those parts in his life which led him to sin.

Always about the will and freedom of spirit.

Gay people can and often do likewise, as Matt Talbot did.  They can change.  They realize they are more than their sexual inclination or 'preference', that they are neither defined by their 'manhood' nor impotence, i.e. sexual behavior.  Aside from cutting out the sinful behavior - self-abuse, anonymous sex, porn; or gouging out the eye of their concupiscence - cruising every 'cute' person they encounter and so on, sometimes they need to cut off bad friendships and inappropriate social recreations as well. 

"Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame" (Lk 14:21).

It's better to go through life maimed, maybe even a little disabled or damaged, perhaps even a sort of outcast, than to end up in hell.  Matt Talbot lost his bar friends, lived alone, pretty much kept to himself, yet he insisted he was never lonely - he had Christ in the Eucharist.

So.  Cut off/out the behavior.  Gouge out the eye of concupiscence - you eventually get over it.  Although temptations you will always have - but remember,  they are just temptations.

Anyway.  That's my take on today's Gospel. 

Bonus addendum:

One who has contemplated the message carved in the flesh of Jesus' side by the soldier's lance and learned to read it in adoration has but one language in which to speak to the world: the language of the heart.

It is learned not in conferences or classrooms or books, but in silence and in the contemplation of the Pierced One. It is learned especially in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
The language of the heart encompasses a thousand local dialects, a million accents. Devotion to the Sacred Heart impels the Christian to an inventive charity, a charity ready to explore every dark and treacherous place in search of the lost sheep.
"Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame" (Lk 14:21). "The great gesture of embrace emanating from the Crucified has not yet reached its goal; it has only just begun."16 - Pope Benedict XVI 

Bonus II:  I was reminded of a couple things I wanted to post here while at adoration this afternoon.

The thorn in the side thing St. Paul discusses.  That's the sort of disability which requires us to depend upon God's power - it's the powerlessness that glorifies Christ: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Then this lame idea:  In the old days, people entered monasteries and convents - to cut off that which caused them to sin.  For instance, life in a monastery may be safer than ogling sun bathers in a park.


  1. Oh Terry, cutting THAT off isn't saint hood, its just plain NUTS! (Though I kind of know how he feels, I was making Chilli a couple weeks ago and cutting a habanero pepper and forgot to wash my hands before I ...well you can guess the rest..) But thanks for the lead on Orgenisim. Did you ever think of writing a book about some of this stuff you know...(you know, get paid for it instead of for free with wackadoodles like me posting back!)

    1. I would have to go on a book signing tour and people would see I don't look like Ben Hill anymore.

  2. Yep, I stopped looking at porn because I found that it made me sexually excited.

    (That's a joke, people.)

    1. I get that but that is kind of what I mean. :)

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks Elena - I wasn't sure if it was appropriate.

  4. +JMJ+

    A few months ago, I cut off a friend because the way she was treating the Mass and the sacraments was a source of deep emotional anguish for me . . . But she wasn't making me sin. Far from it, really. My decision really hurt her. I should have been a stronger friend.


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.