In his work The Conferences, John Cassian describes a transition in which we move from repentance to reparation. His idea is relatively simple. Once we have cultivated a genuine contrition for our sins and have sought to be reconciled with God, we must move into a phase where we learn to reject the attachments to sin and its lingering effects. In this way, although we are forgiven of our sins through God’s grace offered in the sacrament of reconciliation, there are still further disorders sown in the heart which need healing.
Sometimes this healing goes beyond the sins for which we are directly responsible. For many of us, there moments in our life which have left deep wounds of sin, and around these wounds form a whole host of lies and disordered patterns of thinking. In time, these disorders crystallize themselves into a false identity that must be shed in order to experience the boundless freedom offered in Jesus Christ.
To experience our true identity in Christ, we must allow the Holy Spirit to help us reject and shed toxic patterns of thinking, feeling, and desiring. This path of healing and transformation takes time, and it involves many ways of inviting Christ into the pain that sin has caused us. I offer three methods that can be of help.
The first, would be to use our imagination. In this way, as painful memories from the past surface, we can invite Christ into the memory and ask him to speak to our hearts. Second, I recommend deliverance prayer as presented by Neil Lozano. His work can be found at http://www.heartofthefather.com.
Finally, as we have addressed and experienced healing around our past, we must realize that those memories will stay with us. At a certain point, we have to allow a purified anger to well up within us and teach us to reject the provocations of the enemy. In addition, we can use the Jesus prayer, not as a tool of repression, but rather a powerful antidote when we are confident that we have addressed the problem and are ready to move on. Centering prayer can also be a powerful preparation for greater intimacy with Jesus Christ, as it teaches us to let go of the disorders of the heart.
Thus, to cultivate stillness within our thinking, we must experience healing around past memories and learn to have the strength to reject the lies of the devil. This is essentially the work of purgatory. The weeds of sin that choke our devotion must be purified in this life or in the next, and we are able to receive Christ’s love to the extent in which we allow the Holy Spirit to prepare our hearts. By giving ourselves unscripted time in meditation, we give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to do this essential work.