What a sorrow it is for us as followers of Christ to experience our own sinfulness, to realize with Saint Paul that, however much we approve of the good and desire to do it, too often we end up doing exactly the opposite of what we wanted to do. It is like an addiction over which we are pretty much powerless, what Saint Ignatius would call an inordinate attachment.

In his book Addiction and Grace, Gerald May says that besides the classical addictions to alcohol, drugs, sex, etc., there are many other things over which we—all of us—may be powerless, and often a number of them. That’s the bad news.

The Good News is that when we realize our powerlessness, we will realize as well our need for a Savior, and although we are wounded the wound is an opening through which God’s grace can enter into our lives.

—Fr. Peter Fennessy, S.J. is a retreat director and spiritual counselor at Manresa Jesuit Retreat House, Bloomfield Hills, MI.