Thursday, October 8, 2015

Feeling Like a Catholic Only on Sunday

Francis de Sales' Introduction to the Devout Life is a spiritual classic from the past. He explains that we are living a devout life when God's love moves us to do the good easily, frequently, carefully and promptly. Without faith, few would see this life as one of joy, but this is the life we are called to live. For St. Francis de Sales, devotion is the perfection of charity: doing everything with joy in our heart.

An article in With Bible by a seminary professor, in a leadership role working with the bishops, wants us to reflect on why our hearts are not burning inside us? Society does have problems, and we are members of society and will be influenced by what we hear, and see. He uses the words of St. Paul, who tells the Christians those who are living with the Spirit will live with: "love, joy, peace, patient endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness and chastity" (Gal. 5:22).

He  mentions a few things that bring about the paralysis of the soul: feeling like a Catholic only on Sundays attending Mass, and forgetting about it until the next Sunday; a  fear and burden with  Confession. No  other religion has this way of experiencing God's grace. We experience the grace of forgiveness and healing in a way that is different. However, many are those who make this a duty that they have to endure without the great joy of an encounter with Jesus, a formality. A sign that we are dealing with a paralysis of spirit.

Another paralysis is the awkward relationship with the priest and sisters in a parish and the dislike to hear what the church teaches. The faults  of the clergy and religious become a stumbling block in getting closer to Jesus. The teaching on abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, artificial contraception all considered out of step with the times, is another sign of a paralysis of the spirit. In these cases, is it not that we are sacrificing the value of life and its beauty to our greed, and self-righteousness? We recall the words of Jesus to Peter: "You are not judging by God's standards but by man's" (Matt 16:23). 

To give life to the spirit he recommends picking out some favorite passage from Scripture, and posting it where you can easily see it. Memorize the words and repeat them often. Make the sign of the cross and use ejaculations frequently during the day. He continues with other suggestions  and concludes with the words of St. Augustine. 

“Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you. And see, you were within, and I was in the external world and sought you there, and in my unlovely state, I plunged into those lovely created things which you made. You were with me, and I was not with you. The lovely things kept me far from you, though if they did not have their existence in you, they had no existence at all."

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