Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Spiritual Dryness ,Virtues and Sins

So, during confession Father said I might be doing something wrong. Probably. One of the things has been neglecting the Holy Spirit. I am trying to get better there. A couple weeks ago during CCD we were talking about virtues, what they are and how they are the jewels in the crown of glory those who go to heaven receive.

So what are the virtues? There are four cardinal one and three others. Peter Kreeft, speaking about the four cardinal virtues says they "are the hinges upon which the other virtues turn". These virtues are those that we can develop by practice.

- According to Father John Hardon, knowledge of things that ought to be done and things that ought to be avoided. Very simply put, knowing right and wrong. Not society's ever shifting right and wrong, you're ok and I'm ok and our very divergent realities are ok. But the black and white, unchanging right and wrong.
- the constant and permanent determination to give everyone his rightful due (as described by Father John Hardon) But this is not merely legal. It is the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like to be treated. Each person deserves respect simply because he has been created by God and is a child of God. One's rights do not and should not detract from another's. That is why there is no justice in abortion. By giving one the right to 'choose' another is losing the right to exist.
- a person who is willing to put himself in danger's way if necessary. Not a reckless risk-taker doing so for a rush. Also, simply doing the right thing in the face of fear, public opinion, intimidation.
Temperance - moderation, self-control in all matters and situations, including emotions.

The other theological virtues, graces from God are:
Faith - firm and unwavering belief
Hope - in the promises of Christ, of Heaven and in Salvation. Relying on the Holy Spirit, God's grace and mercy not our own strengths.
Love (Charity)- generosity of self and in thought.

Then there are the seven heavenly virtues of which there is some overlap:
Chastity- Christopher West talks about 'custody of the eyes' during his lectures on JPII's Theology of the Body. Do I allow my eyes to roam and linger on what might lead me into lust and temptation? Do I read books and watch movies that would do the same?
Diligence- do I work hard? Am I careful with my time? Do I use my time wisely?
Patience - forbearance, the ability to forgive and show mercy.
Kindness - Do I treat others kindly? Do I try to see Christ in others?
Humility - modesty, unselfishness, giving respect and credit to others when due. I kind of get now why some saints will say they are 'nothing' or lowly like a worm. It is their recognition that we owe all to God and without Him we are truly nothing and their love of God's greatness that leads them to say this.

On the flip side, there are the seven deadly sins, which I will bet anyone can name faster than any of the virtues I have mentioned. Why is it so easy to remember the bad and not the good?

Pride - excessive belief in one's own abilities without regard for God. Commonly regarded as the root of all the other deadly sins. For what are the sins generally if not rooted in selfishness? And isn't it pride that keeps people out of the confessional in droves? Isn't it pride that keeps us from forgiving one another and seeking forgiveness for ourselves? I know from years and years of practice that for me, it is. Although, I was willing to seek forgiveness from my sins from God but not willing to forgive others or seek their forgiveness of me. I'm still working on learning to forgive.
Lust - the excessive desire for physical and sensual pleasure. Wouldn't this also be attachment to sin?
Avarice - desire for material gain
Envy - a desire for what another has - possession or trait and my thought is that it goes beyond that to depriving another of that possession or trait...not wanting them to have it at all.
Sloth - apathy to God and one's soul. Spiritual and physical laziness. Ignoring one's duties: am I tooling around on the internet or reading a book when I should be cleaning or making dinner?
Anger - rejection of love and mercy and opting for violence and hate.
Gluttony - consumption of more of anything than what you really need. Not just food related.

It is a sobering and kinda depressing to see where I am failing and sinning. But it is also a start because I have many, many things to work on and many prayers to say. Looking at the virtues and sins together is fascinating and a good preparation for confession.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spiritual Dryness and the Holy Spirit

During confession last week, I brought up the difficulty I have been having during prayer and Adoration. My fear was in offending the Lord for lack of love and lack of respect. The priest, oddly enough, mentioned St Teresa of Avila's difficulty during prayer. It was odd since I am in the midst of reading St Teresa's collected works, volume one. He mentioned that spiritual dryness is often experienced either due to our doing something wrong or being called to a higher level.

Really, spiritual dryness is something I associate with saints. Blessed Mother Teresa was said to have suffered through a very long (50 years?) bout with spiritual dryness. So, my gut reaction was, "Huh, I must be doing something wrong". But I don't know what it is.

Fortunately, I do know Whom to ask for help. The Sanctifier, the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit. As I was waiting in line for confession, I was going through my prayer book and came across prayers to the Holy Spirit. I have sadly neglected the Holy Spirit my whole life. But this prayer leaped off the page and smacked me in the heart. Another poke from God...

Novena Prayer to Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit of God, Holy Spirit the Comforter,
Whom I have slighted, grieved and resisted from my
childhood up to this day, receive me now as your disciple;
guide me, enlighten me, sanctify me.
Make me to know your sevenfold gift -
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
of counsel and of fortitude,
of knowledge and of piety, and of
fear of the Lord.

You who are the Spirit of the Father and the Son;
You who are the love of the Father and the Son;
You who baptise with fire, and shed abroad the love of God,
shed that love into my heart.

One thing I have desired of the Lord,
not wealth, rank, power, worldly happiness, nor any worldly good,
but one spark of that heavenly fire to kindle within me the love of my God.

Holy Spirit,
I give myself to You with all my intellect and with all my heart.
I desire to be bound to You.
For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
No other liberty is true.
To be Your servant is to be living in the freedom of the sons of God.

Take me, Holy Spirit, take me as your disciple. Be my guide:
wheresoever You lead, I will follow;
whatsoever You forbid, I will renounce;
whatsoever You command, in Your strength I will obey.

Father of the poor, giver of good gifts,
grant the favors I ask in this novena. (Mention petitions here).

Let us pray:
O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant, we beg You, by the same Holy Spirit, to love and relish what is right and evermore to rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Make 'em drool

My husband and I are escaping this brown and cold landscape for warmth, sun and sand. We plan on doing a lot of nothing unless it involves a fruity drink (at least for me) and sitting on the beach. Not that I will get a tan. I will come back as ghostly white as I left. But, that's beside the point.

Well, we haven't had a long getaway since our honeymoon... so, in the spirit of things, I bought a semi-slinky dress today that has a deep vee in the front and in the back. I also bought a bra that will hoist up and push together what God gave me. My husband's eyes are going to pop right out of his head! That's if I can actually go through with wearing it. I also bought a tank to wear under the dress so...I'll probably chicken out.

Who says married life is dull?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I have a committed adoration hour every week. I have gone upset, angry, sick and every time received comfort when it was needed. I know and believe that it is the Lord before Whom I appear. And yet, and yet lately I feel a disconnect between what I believe and what I feel. Lately, I don't want to go. I feel fidgety, restless and bored. I watch the clock. And I'm appalled by my own thoughts and behavior. If Jesus were sitting there in bodily (human) form, I certainly wouldn't act that way. I'd be prostrate on the floor. It shouldn't be any different when He is there in the form of the Holy Eucharist. So, why the disconnect? Why don't I have the proper awe or fear of the Lord that I should?

I do not want to treat the Lord casually or disrespectfully. Please pray for me.