Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.
Romans 7: 21-23 NIV
NOTE: I like the way the NIV phrases things, so that is why I use it often, although it is not the official Catholic translation. It will be marked NIV when I use that instead of the The New Jerusalem Bible which is a Catholic translation which I will use quite frequently.
Curon is the latest foreign supernatural mind-bending drama from Netflix and Italy.
It’s a teen horror series where, when a person (usually a teen) undergoes a doubtful moment when they are weak and reluctant to make a confident decision, a doppelganger emerges from the flooded area of town, seeking to kill the original person in whom they are just a shadow copy of the original. There is a submerged bell tower (without a bell) that chimes when the duplicate is born and rises out of the water of new life. This other self is the darker bolder part of the individual whose life they seek out to take, so they can live the life that has been suppressed. It is the dark sin that lives inside of us that Paul talks about. Despite Catholic imagery in many scenes, nobody calls out to God or the Blessed Virgin for help. The imagery is always nice to have despite it’s lack of use. Still it is a rather intense series that keeps you glued to the edge of your seat as you try to wrap your mind around what is happening.
This same concept of a split up of self can be seen just as clearly if we go back in time to the future of Star Trek. In the episode ‘The Enemy Within’, a transporter malfunction splits Kirk into two separate Kirks as he beams up from Alpha 177. Not Alpha 176 or 178, but 177. That’s not really important at all to my overall point. You have the “good,” but indecisive and ineffectual Kirk and the “evil,” but impulsive and irrational Kirk. I hate it when that happens. Just a bit of ST trivia that has nothing to do with this topic at all, this is the first episode where Spock uses his famous Vulcan nerve pinch and where Dr. McCoy says for the first time, “He’s dead, Jim”.
Again in the movie and tv series ‘The Dark Crystal’ is a fantasy tale of a group of beings called the urSkeks who split into two separate beings; the malevolent cruel and ugly Skeksis and the gentle kind and wise urRu, more commonly known as the Mystics.
There is Dr. Jekyll and his ugly alter ego Mr. Hyde.
You have mild mannered Bruce Banner and his angry personality The Hulk.
These stories illustrate the power of light and darkness at play in each of our lives. The battle that rages in our souls between good and evil. Between our True Self and False Self.
What is the solution to this problem?
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Romans 7: 24-25 NIV
Thomas Merton explains even further.
Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self. This is the man that I want myself to be but who cannot exist, because God does not know anything about him. … My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of God’s will and God’s love — outside of reality and outside of life. And such a life cannot help but be an illusion. … The secret of my identity is hidden in the love and mercy of God. … Therefore I cannot hope to find myself anywhere except in him. … Therefore there is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace and my happiness depend: to discover myself in discovering God. If I find Him, I will find myself, and if I find my true self I will find him (pp. 34-36).
Ilia Delio, Discovering the true self in God with Merton’s guidance (Jan 23, 2017) www.ncronline.org
Amy Grant sings about how you can apply the victory of Christ in this battle…
Well, deep within’ you there’s a spiritual battle
There’s a voice of the darkness and the voice of the light
And just by listening you’ve made a decision
‘Cause the voice you hear is gonna’ win the fight
Amy Grant, Old Man’s Rubble (1977)
We as Catholics have some unique ways we can listen to the Light and starve the darkness of our doppelganger. I only want to focus on one aspect of this, so this post isn’t longer then it should be, which is probably is.
First This Startling Realization
There’s a cold-hard Catholic truth we need to know and understand: God does not need us. The creation of the world is the fruit of divine love — it’s sheer goodness on God’s part.
Rodney Pelletier, Confession as Preparation for Christmas (November 23, 2016) ChurchMilitant.com
Bishop Robert Barron explains further…
The God of the Bible, who is utterly perfect in himself, has no need of anything at all. Even in his great act of making the universe, he doesn’t require any pre-existing material with which to work; rather (and Irenaeus was the first major Christian theologian to see this), he creates the universe ex nihilo (from nothing). And precisely because he doesn’t need the world, he makes the world in a sheerly generous act of love.
Bishop Barron on St. Irenaeus and the God Who Doesn’t Need Us ( June 28, 2016) Word On Fire
“Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4 11-12 NIV) This is a direct commandment from the Word Incarnate himself. “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13 34-35) You can’t hate anyone because “whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. (1 John 4:20) Church historian Tertullian reported of the pagan Romans’ impression of the first Christians “Look… see how they love one another (for they themselves [the pagans] hate one another); and how they are ready to die for each other (for they themselves are readier to kill each other).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes St. John of the Cross who tells us..
“At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love” (CCC 1022)”
We are told to love God by loving our brothers and sisters. We are told to love our neighbor as our self. How do we do this, as this seems a vague unspecific statement. St. Paul clearly says you fulfill this by not committing adultery, by not killing, by not stealing, by not coveting, and obeying all the other commandments that there are. This is summed up in this single phrase: You must love your neighbor as yourself. This is because love can cause no harm to your neighbor, and so love is the fulfillment of the Law. (Romans 13: 9-19) If you fulfill this law, love of neighbor, you are doing well. (James 2: 8)
Not sinning against your neighbor is a very clear way of loving them as our participation in the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
“Everything a baptized person does every day should be directly or indirectly related to the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.”
― Dorothy Day
This doesn’t just include taking care of bodily needs but sharing the Gospel of Christ with them.
Withholding the Gospel from someone, even if it’s easier and nicer and politer, is leaving someone lost in the darkness without the Light of Life. And that’s most un-excellent. Servant of God Dorothy Day, champion of the poor, says the same.
Together with the works of mercy, feeding, clothing and sheltering our brothers, we must indoctrinate. We must “give reason for the faith that is in us.” Otherwise our religion is an opiate, for ourselves alone, for our comfort or for our individual safety or indifferent custom.
Dominicans of the Province of St. Joseph, Don’t Be Nice; Be Excellent (July 19, 2016) Word on Fire
Sharing the Gospel of Christ means not being nasty and rude to your neighbor whom we are trying to make Christ look good to.
Matthew 23 deals with Jesus being nasty to the leaders of the pharisees. If Jesus can do it, I can do it as well, right? This is one chapter. We have to take it into account but it’s one chapter. The four gospels contain a total of 89 chapters and in one of them, Jesus is exceptionally harsh. In the other ones, He is mild, calm, articulate, firm, and even mildly angry. Still, 1 out of 89 is 1.1% of the time. Taking the words of 1.1% percent of the gospels and applying them to 80% of your behavior is not following Christ, it’s an excuse to act how you want, when you want.
-Allan Ruhl Nasty Internet Stuff (October 9, 2019)
We want to make Jesus known and loved and can’t do that by being a Jerk for Jesus.
Lastly it’s important to know our neighbor includes our enemies. G.K. Chesterton reminds us
“The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.”
St. Paul explains that
“If your enemy is hungry, give him something to eat; if thirsty, something to drink. By this, you will be heaping red-hot coals on his head.
Do not be mastered by evil, but master evil with good. Romans 12: 20-21
Loving our neighbor is loving God. Loving God is listening to the light within our soul. By listening to our inner light we will not be listening to the darkness of our doppelganger. Our doppelganger will then have no life in which to choke out ours and we can live life to the fullest as that is what Jesus came to give (John 10:10) because
“The glory of God is a human being fully alive!” -St. Irenaeus