Our Secret Weapon
We all have one: an ace up the sleeve to be played only when the chips are down. For you, this card may be the brilliant smile that once financed an orthodontist's kid's education. One flash of those radiant teeth, and everyone in the room agrees to follow you on Twitter.
Or perhaps your secret weapon is a dry wit; the ability to argue with compelling logic; an attractive vulnerability that makes every opponent's heart melt in surrender. Of course, we also win important battles by more conventional means: brute strength, superior authority, retaliation, even blackmail.
As we begin a new Lenten season, we're invited to do spiritual battle using a special tool recommended in today's Collect prayer: self-restraint. How does this squishy-sounding virtue qualify as a weapon? Primarily, it identifies self-will as the real opponent we face in every contest. While obstacles and adversaries may impede our daily agenda, if we give in to the need to dominate, the desire to be proven right, as followers of Jesus we've already handed the victory away. Self-restraint involves reining in my will so that God's will alone gains expression. If it sounds difficult, well, it is. That's why "self control" makes the list of fruits reaped by those who allow the Spirit to act. With such an inside job as this, the indwelling Spirit is a necessary partner.
Fasting, prayer, and almsgiving assist us in saying NO to self and YES to God. Keep your secret weapon within reach this Lent!
Alice Camille is the author of Working Toward Sainthood and other titles at www.alicecamille.com.
Bishop Robert Barron