“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10)
In our struggle to be faithful Catholics, it is often our very own weaknesses and failings that bring us down. We see how our good intentions to follow the Commandments, stand up boldly for God’s Divine Laws in a hostile world, obey our elders and our Church’s teachings, be faithful to a regular prayer life, love our ‘enemies’, and so forth, often crumble and topple. We repent, go to Confession, start all over again with a firm purpose of amendment, and sometimes before even a day or two have passed by we fall into the same old sins, cowardliness and bad habits.
Here is where our Old Enemy will take advantage. Immediately we show signs of despair and weakening at our constant lack of success to be true to our good intentions, he will dive in and fill our thoughts of how utterly weak and hopeless we are, how unpractical it is to wish to ‘pick up our cross and follow Christ’ to Calvary – so really, quite honestly why bother? Why not sit back and relax, simply going with the tide of ‘tolerance’, ‘anything goes’, ‘take life easy’ approach around us? So come on; this sort of life would make us oh so much happier, wouldn’t it? We can still be ‘good people’… just don’t stick your neck out; just be content to do the minimum.
At one time or other I believe we have all been assailed by these temptations – some perhaps many times. It is an old ploy of Satan to turn us all into “Laodicean Catholics“, harmless and useless in the battle being waged for souls. Yet in the end such lukewarm souls will be “spat out” from the Mouth of God we are told – (Rev. 3:16).
An easy life, avoiding confrontations and difficulties is not the path that leads to Heaven. At these ‘crossroads’ of our lives challenging us all in these times, let us pick up our ‘cross’ of our own fears and limitations, weaknesses and sins, and choose the uphill, narrow path together with all those saints and martyrs who have gone before us. It will be a rocky path, but the right one, and we may be sure that we shall have the whole of Heaven at our side to help us on our way.
Below are a few quotes from saints and a wise Pope to give us some encouragement.
“I do not wish the soul to consider her sins, either in general or in particular, without also remembering the Blood and the broadness of My mercy, for fear that otherwise she should be brought to confusion. And together with confusion would come the devil, who has caused it, under colour of contrition and displeasure of sin, and so she would arrive at eternal damnation, not only on account of her confusion, but also through the despair which would come to her, because she did not seize the arm of My mercy.” (Conversations of Our Lord with St. Catherine Of Siena)
“When a person commits a fault, God certainly wishes him to humble himself, to be sorry for his sin, and to purpose never to fall into it again; but he does not wish him to be indignant with himself, and give way to trouble and agitation of mind; for, while the soul is agitated, a man is incapable of doing good.” (St Alphonsus Liguori)
“It is the way of the enemy to weaken and lose heart, his temptations taking flight, when the person who is exercising himself in spiritual things opposes a bold front against the temptations of the enemy, doing diametrically the opposite. And on the contrary, if the person who is exercising himself commences to have fear and lose heart in suffering the temptations, there is no beast so wild on the face of the earth as the enemy of human nature in following out his damnable intention with so great malice.” (St. Ignatius of Loyola)
“Jesus is nailed to the cross…Let us halt before this image of pain, before the suffering Son of God. Let us look upon him at time of presumptuousness and pleasure, in order to learn to respect limits and to see the superficiality of all merely material goods. Let us look upon him at times of trial and tribulation and realise that it is then that we are closest to God. Let us nail ourselves to him, resisting the temptation to stand apart or to join others in mocking him.” (Pope Benedict XVI)
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
“O Holy Spirit
soul of my soul
I adore you.
strengthen and console me.
Tell me what I ought to do
and command me to do it.
I promise to submit to everything
that you ask of me
and to accept all
that you allow to happen to me.
Just show me what is your will.”