Beware: Cancerous Soup for the Soul is Doled out Daily!
By Judith Costello
All the feel good books are have titles about Soup for the Soul…stories meant to be warm and comforting, reassuring and easy to swallow. But this is Lent…time for a tougher look.
It’s time to consider how cancer grows in the Soul. Fr. Larry called sin a “cancer” last weekend. He said we should be able to diagnose this “sickness” just like we diagnose the physical stages of a spreading cancer. (This is my version of that concept.)
Stage 1: Unchecked Emotion.To Heck with Faith and Reason. I FEEL Bad—The modern world recognizes feelings over reason. I was thinking about this when I heard a young woman who whined between every meal, because she had decided to fast from between-meal snacking. Since she was used to snacking all the time, she felt grouchy. And no matter how much anyone pointed out the purpose of fasting and the value of discipline, she continued to punish everyone around her with her grouchiness.
It’s easy to see from the outside of this situation, that the purpose of fasting is defeated if we have to tell the world how hard it is! But the same thing happens to all of us and it’s not at all humorous. We are irritated and let it show. We feel envious and try not to show it at the moment. But then we gossip about that person later on.
Emotions are meant to be just the “garnish on the plate.” They add color but they should never be the main course! Unleashing our emotions, allowing them free reign, guarantees the spread of a cancer in the soul. The main course on the plate of our lives should be faith.
Faith requires self discipline in order for it to nourish us.
Stage 2: Rationalization.
Once the emotions go unchecked then the devil offers lots of easy rationalizations. One of the best rationalizations among church-goers is: “God loves us so of course he doesn’t want us to suffer. He certainly doesn’t care if we eat between meals. This whole fasting thing is just something made up by stuffy old guys.” I’ve heard it said. And I have to admit I used to use the “God is love, and a loving, nice-guy God wouldn’t expect this.” We have lost perspective.
It helped me when I started to really study the Catechism and prayer. Our job is to get to know God. And yes He is Love. But the love He demonstrates is all about sacrifice. Love is not easy. Love is not a feel good, chicken-soup thing. Love is the cross.
The season of Lent is a wake-up call about avoiding Stage 2 Cancer of the Soul.
Stage 3: The Blame Game.
Adam said, “It was Eve’s fault.” And Eve blamed it on the serpent. So I guess we can blame the “blame game” on our original parents! It is very easy to unload our responsibility. There is always an excuse.
Someone else led us here. Or it’s our upbringing. Or something someone else said caused this reaction.
But sin is sin. We are responsible for our actions and responsible for making a U-turn when Stage 3 Soul Cancer has taken over our lives.
Stage 4: From One Sin to Another.
Once the door to sin is open, sin snowballs. The tools of the first three stages are in place. Like physical cancer it now starts to take over in more severe ways. Excuses, desires and scapegoats provide the necessary equipment. Now it’s just a smooth ride of self-indulgence.
I’m sure that’s how people, who appear to be good, decent folks, end up stealing millions from an employer. All it takes is this—Never Tell the Truth. That person never admits to “stealing,” it’s only been a process of “re-directing.” It is not “lying” it’s “telling a different truth.”
Stage 4 Soul Cancer can be fatal. Once this sin cancer begins to grow, the road to health is a battle.
But there is good news. The Savior came for just such souls.
Now is the time. Today is the day. Resolve to make the Lent a time for these things:
• Truth Telling
• Personal Responsibility
• Confession and Sacraments
• and a Renewal of Faith.