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From Darkness into Darkness and into the Light

Updated: Jul 2




“For out of the heart come evil thoughts.” (Matt 15:19).

 

Why do evil thoughts and words have such power over us? Is not good greater than evil? Yes, goodness is more powerful, objectively speaking; but our experience often seems to contradict this fairy tale truth that we recognize deep in our minds and hearts.

 

There is a striking scene from the film The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug that I recommend you watch (or rewatch). Gandalf the wizard is making his way into the ruins of a fortress haunted by the Necromancer (Sauron). A tremendous black Shadow deeper than the surrounding darkness rushes toward him, threatening to envelop the bright aura of light protecting the wizard. An intense struggle ensues: at one moment, Gandalf’s shining globe grows and beats back the attacking chaos of shadows; at the next, the Darkness increases and advances, crushing and consuming the dwindling light.

 

This masterful cinematic imagery perfectly captures our daily struggle, doesn’t it? One moment we are beating back the darkness of evil by our good thoughts and deeds, and the next, we are crushed under the weight of negative thoughts and emotions, which threaten to extinguish our light by moving our will toward destructive behaviors.

 

This is especially true on the path of personal conversion, as we turn from sinful habits and environments and look toward a new life of virtue and union with Christ and his Church. The Angel of Darkness knows of your good intentions and resolutions, and he is smart enough to know it would be difficult to make you return to your former ways exactly as before. No…he must lead you from one darkness into another kind of darkness. He tempts us to focus on and mentally ruminate over our past experiences of evil.

 

This is how evil can still dominate the narrative of our lives, even though we have rejected it in our actions. For those of us who by the grace of God have escaped persons and communities where spiritual, emotional, and physical abuse often abound, we are tempted to dwell too much on the darkness we encountered. This is not to say that mental and emotional processing must be avoided, in fact, at the beginning it is necessary. But we cannot allow negativity to persistently dominate the personal narratives taking place in our minds. Sometimes the zealous destroyer of idols is as obsessed with false gods as those who worship them.

 

Good is stronger than evil; but within our poor hearts weakened by the sin of our first parents, evil can exercise greater sway than good. This is why unkind or hateful thoughts and words exert such influence over us and our world, why we can call them to mind so much more easily than good ones. A daughter remembers so poignantly the hurtful remark from her father, even decades later. It is only by the power of Christ living within us, in the seven Sacraments and seven Virtues, that love conquers death, and new creation replaces the emptiness inside.

 

As a Christian, I have been called to mortify my mind and imagination daily, capturing every thought for Christ (1 Cor 10:5). I think this is why St. Paul encourages us to avoid talking about evil and immorality as much as possible (see Ephesians 5), due to its tendency to dominate our thoughts and conversations. As G.K. Chesterton put it so beautifully, we should be inspired to engage in our spiritual combat not because we hate what is in front of us, but because we love what is behind us. This is your mission in the world, should you choose to accept it; this is your sacred calling: “For once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light, for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true” (Eph 5: 8-9).

 

Veritas et Caritas


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3件のコメント


Thanks! I needed this today!

いいね!

Gemma S
Gemma S
7月02日

Thank you for this reflection Andrew. I have just been thinking of this and how I'm going to do it. This was so timely.

いいね!

Clelia M
Clelia M
7月02日

It is very tempting to waste time rehashing the same things over and over that we have already processed and moved on from. Thank you for the food for thought!

いいね!
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