Sunday, February 24, 2008

Easier to Unleash It

In Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, Colonel Aureliano Buendia had been leading a rebellion that had turned into a full-blown war. Over time, he had transformed from brave leader to mythical warrior to cruel warlord.
Coming to realize that the war had become pointless and out of control, he sought to end it. First, he had to spring his co-general from death row:

'''Let's get you out of here before the mosquitos in here execute you.'
"'No, Aureliano, I'd rather be dead than see you tranformed into a bloody tyrant.'
"'You won't see me. Put on your bloody shoes and help me get this [lousy] war over with.'"
"When he said it," the author writes, "he didn't know that it was easier to start a war than to end one."

Isn't it the same with us? Isn't it easier to start a bad habit or a sinful addiction than to end one?

The Fathers have had much to say on this. For example,

St. Gregory Palamas writes, "...if you feel no pang in committing minor offences you will through them fall into major transgressions."(1)

and St. Gregory the Great writes,

For sin is what is not swiftly washed away by penitence, or sin is the cause of sin, or sin is also the punishment for sin, or sin is at once both the cause and the punishment of sin. For every act which is committed is first sin. But if it is not cleansed swiftly by penitence Almighty God by righteous judgement allows the guilty mind of the sinner to fall to further guilt, so that the mind which was unwilling to cleanse what it had done by weeping and correction begins to add sin to sin. Therefore the sin which is not washed away by the lament of penitence is at the same time the cause of sin, because from it arises whence the spirit of the sinner plunges deeper into guilt. Truly sin which follows from sin is at the same time a sin and the penalty for sin, because with increasing blindness it is generated from the retribution of prior guilt so that certain punishments are, as it were, the very increase of vices in the sinner.(2)

(1) The Philokalia Vol. 4, edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware. Faber and Faber p. 329.
(2) Homilies on the Book of Ezekiel

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