What to do about a cold spiritual life

Often when we grow in prayerfulness, the Lord purifies our intentions and asks us to pray even when we do not have feelings or get much response back. Something else to ask ourselves in times like these is if we have fallen into the habit of some small hidden sins or imperfections. While these are not mortal, they can zap our spiritual vitality. Have you ever been walking around with a sinus infection? While you are not usually incapacitated, you feel like you are dragging. It is the same in the spiritual journey.We are not being scrupulous here. Time is short in the spiritual life! We are made to be saints, to be filled with the utter fullness of God’s life and share that with others. Small “spiritual infections,” while they do not kill us, can make us much less than dynamic in the Spirit. To understand more, it is worth taking a look at the insights and experiences of Blessed Dina Belanger (1897-1929) into the effect on the soul of three types of common foibles.Blessed Dina was a member of the community of the Religious of Jesus and Mary in Sillery, Quebec, Canada. One day, Blessed Dina received a special grace from Jesus where he showed her a multitude of souls who were more or less serious about living the Catholic Faith. However, each was struggling in a particular way. She wrote:

Blessed Dina Bélanger

Blessed Dina Bélanger

“The Heart of Jesus said to me: I am going to let you see my life in them or my separation from them. He pointed to three souls in particular.

About the first, he said: ‘You can recognize me in this soul: but, you see, my hands are tied by threads. This soul loves me, but remains attached to material goods which bind my hands and  prevent me from giving great graces.’

With the second, he shared: ‘Look here, I am more luminous and loved more by them, but look at my Heart. It is pierced by tiny thorns: these are the small things that it refuses and which prevent me from giving it all the treasure of my Heart.’

Considering the third soul, he lamented, ‘You can barely see me. My feet and hands are bound with cords: thorns penetrate my Heart, pressing in upon it and making it bleed. This is a lukewarm soul. In her, my action is paralyzed and the soul is very close to leaving me.’

While in subsequent posts, we will consider each of the three types of imperfects sequentially, in brief, consider yourself in this moment. What do you hold onto now in place of God like the first soul? One of the most prevalent subtle attachments to the “here and now,” is gluttony. Venerable Father Felix Rougier (1859-1938), founder of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, defined gluttony as “the material disorder that wins over the appetite to go beyond the limits of discretion and of prudence in eating and in drinking.  It weakens the forces of the soul, brings a lack of enthusiasm, and coldness.”  Where do you go beyond the bounds of discretion? When your daydream after a stressful day, is to go to the adoration chapel or the freezer for that rocky-road ice cream?

When someone hurts your feelings, do you withhold this small everyday pain from Jesus like soul two by continuing to dwell on the hurt? Or, do you release it to him and let him combine it with his own, his offering that is perpetuated at every Mass. Touchiness, which robs us of peace, according to Venerable Rougier, who recounted words from Jesus, is “a refined form of pride that consists in interior sorrow that wounds the soul by making it imagine that it is alone and forgotten” when all the time I am there to comfort them. If you are not touchy, what do you with hold from Jesus and why?

Taking the third soul into account, a love of comfort, an excessive gentleness with oneself or a tendency to grumble or complain are “sentiments of the soul” that tranquilizes and dulls the heart so we lose our energy, and courage to handle difficulties. Do you have a holy rectitude when you do not feel like making the kids lunches? Can you shut your mouth when you sense that your spouse needs quiet?  In waking up our souls, we want to become aware of any exaggerated focus on self that can divert us from our path to the Crosses. The Lord wants to liberate us from our impurities to give us fullness of life.

Consider what Jesus pointed out to Blessed Dina:

“In these souls who are abandoned to me, who refuse me nothing, I am totally radiant. You can no longer see anything of the soul itself. I have substituted myself for it. I refuse it nothing. I can freely bestow on it all the treasures of my Heart. I make it happy and it consoles me.”

Let us wage “war” on these subtle imperfections in ourselves. If we do, what graces await us and those we pray for!

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