Spiritual Growth and Aridity (dryness) (1 Viewer)

St. PJ

Super Forum Fanatic
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
8,504
Reaction score
7,548
Location
Lafayette, La
Offline
For those who are fighting.
For those who are struggling, with themselves as much as the world.
For those with an open heart.
For those looking for answers.
For those seeking direction.
For those seeking God.

Matthew Chapter 7, verses 7-8: 7 Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. 8 For every one that asketh, receiveth: and he that seeketh, findeth: and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.

In this condition we find ourselves in, our human nature, there is great struggle to be Holy. Some of us will reach a point of satisfaction or complacentcy, where we feel we've made a certain amount of progress but wish to go no further, or just take a little break. We look to the Saints as examples of holiness, but never see that kind of holiness as meant for everyone, or at the very least we don't envision that as a level of piety we will ever reach. We may think what we are doing is enough, and that the kind of holiness the Saints exhibited are for a selcet few.

Yet as the Vatican II teaches "The followers of Christ, are called by God not according to their accomplishments, but according to His own purpose and grace. They are justified in the Lord Jesus.... truly become sons of God, and sharers in the divine nature. In this way they are made holy. They must therefore hold on to, and complete in their lives this holiness which they have recieved."

So the first thing to point out is that holiness is not a result of anything we accomplish, or can accomplish. It is nothing we can merit. It does not exist in the greatness of external works, in the riches of natural gifts, but in the openess and perseverence to the development of the graces given in baptism. We need not accomplish some great mission; all that is required is an open heart to allow Jesus permission to reside in and sanctify it. Holiness is something God desires, and something He gives everyone of us the means to attain it.

So then the question becomes if nothing I do can make me holy, how can I become holy? The answer involves recognizing who we are in relation to who God IS. It is not we who make ourselves holy. Many of us struggle spiritually, not from spiritual laziness or lack of effort, but from trying to make ourselves holy. It isn't our job. It is Jesus who makes us holy. And the only true growth and progress in holiness is realizing that all that is good and holy comes through Him and from Him. The good we do is a result of God's grace. It even takes grace to realize we need Him; it takes grace to seek Him. It takes the grace of God to hear and desire truth. So the first important lesson is perhaps the hardest. It is having the grace to stand before God saying "Lord, I am a sinner, have mercy on me". It is the realization that God is closer than our next breath; that we are dependant on him for everything.

Practically speaking, the above sounds like a cliche. Many teachings we have heard over and over again are so simple yet so profound, and though we feel we know and understand them, most times we do not. We have a habit of compartmentalizing things. I go to God for this, or for that, ask his help for this, or for that, but not for all. I feel I have xx area of my life under control, am self sufficient, and only need God's help with yy area. By compartmentalizing the aspects of my life, I take things for granted. I also take credit (and pride) in things I do well. This leads to my being offended when credit is not given (to me) when I feel it should, or to being jealous, or constantly seeking validation. It leads to me expecting, to me being ambitious, ect ect ect.

When we compartmentalize things, in essence, we are telling God he can control and help please these areas of our lives, but that we have the other areas under control. Being that all good and all grace comes from God, we are taking credit and basking in glory that belongs to Him. We lose perspective of who we are and Who He Is, and we take on pride instead of humility at "our" accomplishments. And our opinion of ourselves becomes shaped by our accomplishments.

Which brings us to the second point. There was a great saint named Brother Lawrence, who centuries ago came up with something he called "Practicing the Prescence of God". Basically, he acted as if God were in his prescence all day. Realizing how dependant we are on God, before every task, even something as simple as picking up a stray bit of trash, or making the coffee, he asked God for the grace to complete the task with love, did the task, then immediately thanked God for the grace given. He taught those around him that instead of focusing on himself, he trained himself to focus on God throughout the day.

In prayer, for example, instead of focusing on his fallen nature and being shocked by it (like when trying to pray and getting distracted repeatedly, his pride being offended), he immediately turned to God and acknowledged his weak nature, and asked God to forgive him and told God that God still had much work to do on him, and then continued to pray. In other words, he took the focus off of himself and shifted it back to God. A good analogy is imagine driving on a road to a certain destination. Now, why you are trying to concentrate on the road, some flies try and distract you. Are you going to risk trying to swat flies, which never stay in one place, take your eyes off the road, and potentially drive in the ditch, or is it better to ignore the flies and place your attention back on the road. The point is that being distracted is part of our nature, and does not offend God, it offends our pride. Instead of giving the distractions more attention than they merit, we should give that attention back to God. If we go into prayer trying not to have a distraction, we will wind up spending more energy and effort trying to prevent it than actually praying. Simply admit to it, apologize to God, then resume prayer. It may have to be done repeatedly, but God loves perserverance. Its how we prove our love for Him.

Which brings us to point 3 - spiritual growth. Many times, through God's grace, we are given a catylist that provides an awakening. It could be a retreat, or a life altering event, or some simple loving act that profoundly opens your eyes and turns them to God. From the point of the catylist, we get on a roll spiritually, and find it easier to pray, to study, to be loving, to live like a christian. We have this feeling of connectivity with God, and with eyes of faith are seeing his hand in many things. Temptations are easily overcome without much battle. We are riding a wave. But though God's mercy and wisdom, that wave becomes a trough. And we lose this feeling of connectivity.

This is the exact moment when great spiritual progress can occur. This aridity, this dryness, this feeling that your prayers aren't making it past the cieling, and maybe you don't feel like studying theology or reading the bible, and you don't feel like making any progress or doing particularly anyting. You try to pray, but have much trouble. Temptation comes along and you don't feel like putting up any fight. This is a moment when it feels as though God is far away and isn't watching. But it is the exact moment He is closest.

It is easy to do the right thing when we have that feeling of connectivity, but sometimes we become more dependant on the feeling and gifts of God than on God himself. Spiritual growth is about realizing daily exactly how dependant we are on God, and allowing God and trusting God control of every aspect of our lives. It is recognizing our weak nature, yet not judging ourselves on our weak nature, but seeing who we are with God in us and depending on His strength and grace to perform our tasks, and thanking Him for it and giving Him credit for it. Spiritual growth is about becoming humble.

When we don't feel that connectivity, we are being tested and given a great opportunity for growth. When we see and feel the ugliness in us, and don't want to do the good we know we should, how much do we turn to God (especially when we feel he isn't near) and beg for his grace and battle our nature? This dryness shows us our nature, and is meant to humble us, but it is also meant to teach us to be dependant on God, not for the right outcome, or for some feeling of validation, but because we are weak and He is strong, because of who we are and Who He IS.

In the past, when going through aridity, I tend to seek validation. When I don't get that validation, that pat on the back, or feeling of acceptance from the people I seek it from, I then seek self gratification, in all its forms, tobacco, food, sex, video games, football, movies, spending money, you name it. This is a classic example of being dependant on a feeling, and not on God. What one must do is recognize such tendancies and habits, and instead of feeling worse because of them and giving them too much attention, turning to God in prayer.

One last thing. Wherever you are in your spiritual life, however you feel, pray. Don't try to frame your prayers. Don't try to present things to God with a bow, using the correct words, the correct attitude. If something needs to be fixed, don't try to hide the broken part. If you are angry, yell at God, tell him everything you are angry at, don't hold anything back. If you let it all out, and give it all to God, you will be surprised at how quickly you go from yelling at God giving him all you can muster to begging him for his mercy and peace and forgiveness. If you don't feel him near, tell him you know he is there. I found a very easy and practical thing was to write a friend (whom I talk about spiritual things with) about everything that is going on internal, telling him everything that worries me, all obstacles and troubles I have spiritually, all that I struggle with, all that I keep inside. As soon as I finish writing him, I immediately turn to prayer and am able to tell God everything I just wrote. Somehow telling my friend helped me open up to God. For those who have read this, I pray you got something out of it, and I pray that you can focus on God and realize he loves you not because of who you are, but because of who He is. There is a saying from a priest I know "Name it, Claim it, and Tame it". In prayer, don't focus on your shortcomings. Simply name them, claim them as yours, and give them to God so he can tame them. Then move your focus back to God. Peace be with you.
 

bearze34

The Listener
VIP Subscribing Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2002
Messages
6,797
Reaction score
3,625
Age
58
Offline
I can assure you that I would be found "not guilty" of being a Christian. I am a sinner....as a matter of fact I, at different points in my life, may have even been found to be morally bankrupt. But I didn't need God to fix it. I just realized the effect my actions had on my own life and those I love and love me and changed them. But, asking for forgiveness from some God doesn't take away my actions or lessen them. It may, if I chose that path, relieve some guilt but that is about it.
 
OP

St. PJ

Super Forum Fanatic
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
8,504
Reaction score
7,548
Location
Lafayette, La
Offline
I can assure you that I would be found "not guilty" of being a Christian. I am a sinner....as a matter of fact I, at different points in my life, may have even been found to be morally bankrupt. But I didn't need God to fix it. I just realized the effect my actions had on my own life and those I love and love me and changed them. But, asking for forgiveness from some God doesn't take away my actions or lessen them. It may, if I chose that path, relieve some guilt but that is about it.

I can assure you that going to confession and asking God forgiveness does absolutely nothing to relieve guilt. The only way I've ever relieved guilt was with atonement and penance-- humbly asking others whom Ive wronged for forgiveness and doing sacrificial things for them to try and repair some of the damage I caused. And even then, it didn't take guilt away. Guilt can be an abatross around my neck and is sometimes the most visible reason I refrain from doing the same thing again. The hole point of not focusing on oneself and one's fallen nature doesn't mean to not feel guilty. It means that one puts that guilt in proper perspective, and doesn't allow that guilt to become bigger than God's mercy in one's mind. It means that one should focus on the ladder up instead of loathing the fallen self. Its no get out of jail free card. But if a heart is contrite and a person does penance tries to right wrongs done to others, peace can be found. And only then does guilt get relieved.

It seems you have done kind of the same thing; you just did it differently. You don't believe in God, fine. I do, and I believe it is through His grace you saw the err in your ways and saw the effect they had on loved ones, and it was through his grace that your heart was inspired to change and you were able to carry out that resolution. You may not; that's fine; it's a difference in belief. But Im not going to ridicule your belief, and if the original post has nothing for you, what does it benefit you or anyone else to speak against it? The post is on spiritual growth and combating aridity. If you know of neither and care for neither, what value does your opinion have, and why are you wasting your time reading it?
 

Spicoli

Guest
Joined
Sep 18, 2002
Messages
1,417
Reaction score
115
Age
59
Location
Temecula, CA
Offline
I can assure you that going to confession and asking God forgiveness does absolutely nothing to relieve guilt. The only way I've ever relieved guilt was with atonement and penance-- humbly asking others whom Ive wronged for forgiveness and doing sacrificial things for them to try and repair some of the damage I caused. And even then, it didn't take guilt away. Guilt can be an abatross around my neck and is sometimes the most visible reason I refrain from doing the same thing again. The hole point of not focusing on oneself and one's fallen nature doesn't mean to not feel guilty. It means that one puts that guilt in proper perspective, and doesn't allow that guilt to become bigger than God's mercy in one's mind. It means that one should focus on the ladder up instead of loathing the fallen self. Its no get out of jail free card. But if a heart is contrite and a person does penance tries to right wrongs done to others, peace can be found. And only then does guilt get relieved.

If a man goes before God and truly repents of his sins... he is forgiven, and those sins are remembered no more. We have all done things that we are not proud of, but if we go before God and repent, the guilt of past transgressions should be left at the foot of the cross. We are forgiven... period.

Psalms 103:12 as far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

I thank God for his Grace. As a Christian man, I fall short of being the man that I should be on a daily basis... but I am trying. I guess I'm still a work in progress. :ezbill:

Thanks for posting pjgaryjr.
 

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account on our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.

Users who are viewing this thread

 

New Orleans Saints Twitter Feed

 

Headlines

Top Bottom