A Season of Lent: On Self Denial

Preparing ourselves for struggle, for spiritual battle calls for all distractions to be laid aside with the weapon of self denial…

For though we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh. The weapons of our warfare are not the weapons of the world. Instead, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We tear down arguments, and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.… (2 Corinthians 10:4)

Join me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. A soldier refrains from entangling himself in civilian affairs, in order to please the one who enlisted him. Likewise, a competitor does not receive the crown unless he competes according to the rules. ( 2 Timothy 2:4)

Jesus, you have given yourself to me, now let me give myself to you; I give you my body. that it may be chaste and pure. I give you my soul, that it may be free from sin. I give you my heart that it may always love you. I give you every thought, word, and deed of my life, and  I offer all for your honor and glory. Amen.  Ora Pro Nobis.

Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

Choice – free will – is the weapon Satan fears most because he can only manipulate it; he cannot remove it. We might call it God’s secret weapon that looks like a time bomb. It can explode at any minute with one act, one choice and change the course of everything, moving things in a different direction.  And what if we choose to give Jesus…everything, before and during a spiritual battle?  What if we see all life as a spiritual battle?  If we do, it is then that we can says as an oft-quoted phrase reminds: we are fighting on the side of the angels.  Indeed, as Chesterton reminds us in William Blake: “We all wake up on a battlefield.”

“Every act of will is an act of self-limitation. To desire action is to desire limitation. In that sense, every act is an act of self-sacrifice. When you choose anything, you reject everything else… Every act is an irrevocable selection and exclusion. Just as when you marry one woman you give up all the others, so when you take one course of action you give up all the other courses… Art is limitation; the essence of every picture is the frame. If you draw a giraffe, you must draw him with a long neck. If, in your bold creative way, you hold yourself free to draw a giraffe with a short neck, you will really find that you are not free to draw a giraffe. The moment you step into the world of facts, you step into a world of limits. You can free things from alien or accidental laws, but not from the laws of their own nature. You may, if you like, free a tiger from his bars; but do not free him from his stripes. Do not free a camel from the burden of his hump; you may be freeing him from being a camel. Do not go about as a demagogue, encouraging triangles to break out of the prison of their three sides. If a triangle breaks out of its three sides, its life comes to a lamentable end. Somebody wrote a work called “The Loves of the Triangles”; I never read it, but I am sure that if triangles ever were loved, they were loved for being triangular. This is certainly the case with all artistic creation, which is in some ways the most decisive example of pure will. The artist loves his limitations: they constitute the thing he is doing.”

– G. K. Chesterton, The Suicide of Thought, Orthodoxy, 1908

“Self-denial is the test and definition of self-government.”

-G. K. Chesterton,The Field of Blood, Alarms and Discursions

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