As for self-will, we are forbidden to do our own will by the Scripture, which says to us, “Turn away from your own will” (Eccles. 18:30), and likewise by the prayer in which we ask God that His will be done in us. And rightly are we taught not to do our own will when we take heed to the warning of Scripture: “There are ways which seem right, but the ends of them plunge into the depths of hell” (Prov. 16:25); and also when we tremble at what is said of the careless: “They are corrupt and have become abominable in their will.”
And as for the desires of the flesh, let us believe with the Prophet that God is ever present to us, when he says to the Lord, “Every desire of mine is before You” (Ps. 37:10).
We continue with the chapter on Humility. What has caught my attention today is the following verse: And rightly are we taught not to do our own will when we take heed to the warning of Scripture: “There are ways which seem right, but the ends of them plunge into the depths of hell“ (Prov. 16:25)
“I had to this because…”; “I didn’t have a choice…”; “It’s insignificant”; … How many times do we try to rationalize our sins; how many times do we tell ourselves that the ends justify the means? We fall into presumption: “God is love; He’ll forgive this little oversight; after all, it was well intentioned!” Later on we commit the sin again, rationalize it once again, and so on and so forth, until one day we forget that it ever was a sin, and we find ourselves not on the straight and narrow way, but in the ways of the world which, St. Benedict reminds us time and again, are antithetical to the Gospel, to the way of the Cross.
The current situation of the Western world, of our post-Christian society, seems to be also a good example of this warning against following the self-will. Sins that cry out to Heaven are enshrined in law. My will be done. We have turned our backs on the Light, on the Oriens ex alto which has come to free us from every bondage, to follow our own lights. The Lord is no longer a lamp unto our feet; our eyes are darkened, our body is not full of light. And so, the blind lead the blind.
It is easy to blame “society” for the present situation – to place blame on others – but isn’t the current state of things an indictment of our failure (as a Church and as individual members of it) to proclaim the Gospel, to lead holy lives? How many times have I not in my own darkness guided others down that same path? Which parts of my life are in immediate need of light, to dispel the darkness of self-will?