The spiritual classic, The Imitation of Christ suggests the following words might come from the Mouth of Christ, "My child, you must give all for all, and keep nothing for your own. You know that self-love is more harmful to you than anything else. The inclination and attachment you have for a thing determines the hold it has on your heart. If your love is pure, simple and moderate, you will not be the slave of any earthly creature."
This quote makes me think back to a time I was a "slave" of televised football. One autumn, many years ago we would come home after Holy Mass and quickly prepare some snacks to plop down for the 1pm kickoff. I would then sit there for the entire game, shooing away children, ignoring my wife, and yelling at the silver box in front of me like a lunatic. If a child were to try to interrupt me or block my view of the t.v. they would catch my wrath. This was my time after all, the only time all week that was blocked out for me, myself, and I. I had a right to it, didn't I? I had worked hard all week to support the family...I deserved this...right?
Self-love is that state that turns our focus on ourselves. I deserve this chocolate, I deserve this new car, I deserve this promotion...and on and on. This self-love then turns to hate for others with our will is not met. It may be our secret loathing of a co-worker who received a desired promotion. It may come out as a short temper with a spouse who asked us to take out the garbage or change a diaper in the middle of an exciting football game. It may be a failure to comfort a child in the middle of the night, "because I have a big meeting in the morning!" All of these examples show how self-love turns charity on its head...instead of focusing our love and devotion on others, we focus it on ourselves.
This is particularly true when it comes to purity. We may tell ourselves such lies as, "I deserve a little comfort, after all, my wife keeps pushing me away." Failure to live purity is often the result of giving in to our self-love and attitude of selfishness. When we continually give in to our selfish desires, they more readily take charge and turn us into "slaves". When this happens we find ourselves at a critical moral moment, and often will fail because we have already failed in a hundred small ways.
What is the answer to this? Mortification. The Imitation of Christ puts it this way, "Do not desire that which you may not have, nor seek to possess anything which will impede your spiritual progress and deprive you of interior freedom." In other words, do not fight to satisfy your own desires, but only that of Christ. Live a life of selflessness. Live for what really counts, and most of all, become that true priest, prophet, and king of your family...that will be the greatest mortification of all, for the world will not accept you in your sacr