There is Power in The Blood: Reflections from a Trappist Monastery
“Would you be free of passion and pride, there is power in the blood.” – Lewis E Jones. Lyrics to an Old Christian Folk Hymn.
It seems like the seven deadly sins have gone out of “fashion.” Yet, once, in the consciousness of Christians, they were our deadliest foes.
In the early days of the Church, when Christianity was sanctioned and given status by the Romans, there were those who longed for a more “pure” version of the Christian life. Such individuals left home and hearth to go out into the desert and find something more.
Yet, what they found “blocking their road” were passions, emotions, and desires which refused to be disciplined. They found the sin of gluttony, which ever more craved delightful foods. They found the sin of acedia, which manifested itself in a sort of escapism and being unable to be satisfied by the moment. They found anger and the desire for violence.
They found the sin of lust in thoughts, desires, and memories. Greed and envy showed its ugly head as the monk struggled with being content and humble with what the Lord had given them.
Finally, when one has thoughts of just “how far” one had gone, vanity and pride make their appearance. Sure, the seven deadly sins have gone out of fashion, but does this mean they no longer exist?
It was in a reading one day, when one such monk in the desert, described his own battles with these temptations. I was anxious to see what solution he found. His counsel was very simple: turn to Christ.
Indeed, he pointed out quite astutely, that29Like the alcoholic who simply cannot overcome his addiction, we too do not have the strength or the power to overcome spirits like envy, lust, anger, and pride. They are above our “paygrade.”
There are those who think they can overcome such spirits through their own efforts. They seem to end off worse than before (Luke 11:23-26). I remember one such individual, whom through “meditation” was able to find emancipation from her children and husband.
Others seem to “make peace” with these enemies of human nature. This seems like having an angry rottweiler tied to a corner in a living room while you entertain guests for an evening social. It just seems…dangerous.
But Jesus gives us another solution, which is to simply “look upon the one whom they have pierced.” (Zechariah 12:10) The one who overcame the world (John 16:33), promises to be with us in our own battles against such spirits. And what’s more, through Him, we are “more than conquerors (Romans 8:37).
Do we believe St. Paul? What’s more, do we believe the countless Saints and Christians who have said that it is so?