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Don’t Be Discouraged

  /   Sunday, January 30, 2022   /   Comments(0)

Years ago, when I was still in my 20s, I remember going to Confession after what was, well, not a good week. There was an older priest whom I really liked to go to, and fortunately, he was there in the confessional. As I was leaving the confessional, I remember the last thing he said before I left was “don’t be discouraged.”

This sounds simple enough. I’m sure I wondered why he said that rather than something to the effect of “you need to get your act together.” The words came back to my mind when, probably a decade or more later, God lead me to unpack this more.

Have you ever thought that you had overcome some problem or sin (or at least hoped you had) only to commit some sin that demonstrated that the problem still existed? In that moment, you may see that you are still as you were, or at least you see that you still have some work to do. It’s very easy to get down on yourself. Don’t! This can be a manifestation of pride or even a trick of the Devil.

To be sure, we need to be sorry for our sins and resolve to do better next time. It is never okay to willfully choose to remain in sin, especially mortal sin. However, if we give in to discouraging thoughts that God must be really angry and that we can never be better, it will only drive us further into the sin.

If God allows us to fall into the sin and reveal to us where we are, it is to our benefit. We can thank God that we see this now and can repent and really make that change. We can humble ourselves in the realization that we are weak and can do nothing without Christ, but we need to also have confidence that Our Lord will give us his grace. We can recognize the love and mercy of God in this moment. We can, from this fall, strengthen our resolve not to commit this sin again. It also helps to become a more merciful and loving person if we use this to be come more understanding of the weaknesses of others.

As much as I’d like to say I’ve perfected this art now, well . . . Please realize the preceding paragraphs often apply to me very well. In fact, writing these things is a helpful tool for me to get these better embedded in my heart as well as to help others benefit.

One more note, I’d recommend How to Profit From Your Faults by Joseph Tissot if you want further reading on this.

Category: Spirituality

God’s Love and Our Weakness

  /   Sunday, January 23, 2022   /   Comments(0)

I remember hearing “God wants your weakness, too” at a retreat that I went on almost five years ago. I didn’t know what to make of this. In fact, I’m still not sure I really know what to make of it. However, through reading and retreats that I’ve been on in the years since then, I can see God leading me on a certain spiritual path. I think it really started with the beginning of my devotion to St Therese of Lisieux some years ago (and certainly also her intercession), but I didn’t realize it for a long time.

I’ve long been bothered by seeing God’s love and mercy being used as an excuse for sin or even as an excuse not to take God seriously at all. Sin is really an obstacle between us and God that needs to be rooted out of our lives. I never could stand it when I’d hear someone say that there was no problem with someone remaining in serious sin because God is so loving and forgiving. If you really believe this about God, how can you stand to see one who loves so much so offended?

With that said, I’m learning more about how our faults and failure should not keep us from coming to Our Lord.  Obviously, if it’s a mortal sin we are talking about, then Confession is how we must come to him – as soon as possible!  The best way I’ve heard it said is that holiness isn’t so much about strength but about clinging to Christ in our weakness.  After all, God’s love and mercy are real, and how great they are!  He loves each of us right now.  He’s not waiting until we are holier to begin to love us.

No matter how much we want to serve God, we fail. Many of us have some rather serious failings in our past. Jesus was not kidding when he said “without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). We cannot do anything good without God, and we must trust in God for our salvation. 

What is one very important way to trust in God rather than ourselves?  Dom Lorenzo Scupoli explained it well in Spiritual Combat.  How do we react when we have sinned?  Does it surprise us?  Do we lose our peace?  If we are trusting in God, we are neither surprised nor anxious and certainly not despairing.  Instead, we peacefully place our hope in the love and mercy of God.

To be honest, I haven’t fully unpacked this in my mind even though God has been trying to teach me this for years.   Probably my favorite book on this spiritual path is Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Fr Michael Gaitley, MIC.  If you want to hear a retreat based on the topic, I’d recommend Fr Bryce Sibley.  I went to this retreat a few years ago, and this is a good one also (but this one is probably better suited for men).  Another book I’d recommend is How to Profit from Your Faults by Joseph Tissot.  All of these have helped bring me to a better understanding of the love and mercy of God.



Category: Catholic, Spirituality


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