Our Liaison, Fr. Chuck Wood offers this teaching for our edification and encouragement.
Conquer (Yourself) Overwhelmingly through Christ.
Brothers and sisters:
What will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?
No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly
through him who loved us.
Romans 8:35, 37
The rousing declaration above, “… we conquer overwhelmingly,” is likely more familiar as, “… we are more than conquerors.”
This fresh wording is from the official translation for English-language Masses in the U.S. To expand on this translation, I’ll tell you a trashy story. But first let’s explore what it might mean to “just” conquer or to be “just” a conqueror.
In this passage, St. Paul lists externals such as “distress, or persecution… or peril.” Let’s apply his exhortation to our internal battles against sin, temptations, and weaknesses. Though personal, victories in these areas boost our freedom to advance God’s will in the world.
To state the obvious, to conquer personal wrongdoing is to stop doing it. Or with sins of omission, to start doing whatever we’ve been neglecting.
But one way to conquer overwhelmingly, to be more than a conqueror, is to follow a principle for boosting spiritual freedom which people particularly associate with St. Ignatius of Loyola. It is “Agere contra,” a Latin phrase meaning “to act against.”
This principle directs us to combat our temptations, sinful tendencies, and weaknesses not only by not giving in to them, but by deliberately doing opposite things.
To illustrate this tactic, here’s the trashy story I promised you. Well strictly speaking it’s about recycling and refundables, not trash. And it’s true.
It involves a middle-class man who harbored judgmental resentment toward people lower on the socioeconomic ladder who, as he saw it, swoop through neighborhoods scrounging for refundable bottles and cans as soon as homeowners put out their trash and recycling.
Thinking about “those people,” this guy pictured them as grungy homeless derelicts who likely spent the refund money on drugs and liquor, sponging off folks like him who’d actually paid the bottle-and-can deposits and did the “hard work” of putting the trash and recycling out every week.
A Christian, he pictured himself as fair-minded. He didn’t see himself as prejudiced or guilty of rash judgement and of bigotry based on class distinctions. But all those supposed virtues went right out the window when he, well, looked out the kitchen window and saw “those people.”
He came to recognize his thoughts toward the “refundable collectors” as prejudiced. He said to himself, “I shouldn’t feel this way.” But he kept on feeling it anyway.
One day, he lost his wallet. He looked everywhere he could imagine. The next day, two strangers came to his house. One of them said, “We dumped stuff from your recycling bin yesterday. And when we got home and sorted, we found your wallet. Here it is.”
Its contents were intact. No fraudulent credit card purchases occurred. These folks had integrity. They’re just trying to make ends meet. They probably figure, “If people with more comfortable lives don’t bother returning the refundables, why should the refund go to waste?”
After that encounter, whenever angry judgmental attitudes toward folks sorting through other people’s trash and recycling rise up in him, he combats it, rejects it. With that rejection, he conquers his uncharitable mental sin. But recently, the Lord prodded him to conquer it overwhelmingly in a deceptively small way. See, now when he takes the recycling out, he sorts the refundables and puts them on one side of the bin so it’s easier for people to take them.
Yes, that may seem inconsequential. But for this man, a softened heart is the godly consequence of helping people he used to dislike as they pursue an action he used to disapprove. He’s not just stopping a bad attitude but doing the opposite of what that attitude would tempt him to think and do.
To sort through our thoughts, attitudes, and actions toward people who differ from us, let’s ask God’s help. He might swoop through our hearts and minds, cleansing them like he cleansed the Temple. And he’ll likely give us the chore of taking out our own trash, including sins against charity and justice. He’ll do that because he loves us.
And in him who loves us, we conquer—and overwhelmingly conquer—ourselves. That victory boosts our freedom to serve God in his battle against blights such as bigotry and prejudice, which God clearly intends to conquer overwhelmingly.
Aside from being our Archdiocesan Liaison, Fr Chuck is Pastor of St Wenceslaus in Scappoose, OR and is a member of the People of Praise.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS!! Saturday April 24, 2021. A Day of Renewal with Fr. Tim Furlow speaking on Metanoia – Continuing Conversion. The day will start at 11 am with music by Dave and Dawn Bentz.
This event is completely virtual. Only the musicians and the Service Team will be onsite.
It is a wonderful opportunity to receive good solid teaching right from your own home. To reach this virtual event, please go to www.youtube.com/c/stpatrickpdx .
Dave Bentz has over 15 years of experience in professional leadership of Catholic worship and audio services. He served with REACH Ministries. He comes from a very musical family who have supported the Charismatic Renewal for generations. Dave and Dawn have a life-long passion for musicianship, evangelism, and servant leadership and own dB Audio. For more information, please see their facebook page, www.facebook.com/davebentzaudio.
We are planning another virtual event for you this fall. Hopefully, next year we can meet in person. Please keep the Service Team in your prayers.