I’m a practicing Catholic. And by that I mean I am practicing, I’m not a pro yet. Just like the 11 year-old me used to watch Isaiah Thomas, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, studying their every move so as to imitate them later in the driveway, so I do the same with my spirituality. St. Dominic, St. Francis, St. Theresa of Avila. What did they do to attain greatness? What can I do in modern times to imitate them?
The only way I know how to become better at something is to practice. The following list is an autobiographical list of my spiritual weaknesses. Some, I’ve strengthened throughout the years while others, I’m still learning how to dominate. In any case, I don’t believe I am the only one struggling with them. Comment below to add your own. Perhaps we can help strengthen each other in the combox.
1) Spiritual Direction
Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” So he invited Philip to get in and sit with him. ~Acts 8: 30-31
It took me until I was thirty to get a spiritual director. I had never known they existed until I began reading the lives of the Saints. It seemed like every single Saint had a personal confessor or spiritual director to help them make sense of their inner conflicts. I think we convince ourselves that we don’t need a spiritual director for many reason; we have good families and friends to support us, we are already spiritually mature enough, we don’t have time, we don’t want to bother our already overworked priests for such a trivial service, etc.
The truth is we need someone who is spiritually superior to take us higher. Whether it be in education, work, hobbies or any other arena, we always seek a teacher to guide us through the difficulty of the tasks we have taken on. Why wouldn’t we want someone to guide us towards holiness?
2) The Divine Office
“Pray always without becoming weary.” ~Luke 18:1
The breviary is scary. If you’ve ever watched someone pray the Liturgy of the Hours for the first time, you marveled with confusion at their page flipping and ribbon movement. If you were valiant enough to try and join them, you were probably discouraged and instantly thought “There’s gotta be an app for this.”
Prayer routines are different for every person. Whether you study papal encyclicals from the twelfth century or pray Our Daily Bread booklets daily, if it doesn’t lead you closer to Christ, then you should probably bag it. However, one prayer that we should all know how to pray is the Divine Office. Any description I give it would be sub-par as I am merely a novice with an app, but the Dominican Brothers of the Western Province do it great justice.
“He is not the God of disorder but of peace.
As in all the churches of the holy ones” ~1 Corinthians 14:33
Lately, it seems that a thin line has been drawn between good and demonic. It is much more difficult to discern what is of God and what is evil. Our world has become increasingly relativistic and, as a result, the once sought after mountain of virtue has been leveled to the plains of indifference. People no longer strive to attain spiritual perfection because they are convinced that it is a traditional thing of the past, a weakness that keeps humans from progress.
I’d lobby for the opposite: it is because of people with strong virtues that we are where we are and it will be the people who maintain their common sense that will survive this lull in social history. Priests, Religious, and educated laymen and women will find solace because they will have discerned their place in the world well.
4) Not appreciating priests & deacons
“Use hospitality one to another without grudging.” ~1 Peter 4:9
Seriously I know he’s busy, but invite him over for a home cooked meal. Don’ you think he deserves some physical nourishment for all of the spiritual sustenance he provides for you every Sunday at the sacrificial table to the Lamb?
5) Praying with others
“They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.“ ~Acts 2: 42
Christ desired that His people be one. He didn’t mean that we should operate as an island. Prayer is the means by which we connect to our divine Father, but it is also the way we connect with each other. Yes, Jesus did tell us to close the door and speak with the heavenly Father in silence (Matthew 6:6), but He also encouraged us to love one another in the same spirit (John 13: 34-35). We are one body with many parts and the whole of this body is Christ’s Bride, the Church. It would do us well to interact with one another as if we understood this mystery.
6) Examining conscience
“Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord.” ~1 Corinthians 11: 27
I’ve found that the most difficult task I have is examining my conscience. Whether it be before receiving the Eucharist, before entering the confessional or before I go to sleep, my memory deceives me. Throughout the day, I am faced with millions of decisions regarding my family, my work and my ministry and it all goes by in a translucent blur. When it comes time to reflect on those actions, I feel like I can only cast a net into a huge sea and hope that I come up with what is keeping me away from Christ so as to disown it.
Today’s world is filled with millions of distractions. Examining your conscience is becoming much more difficult to do.
7) Not sharing (or creating) anything Catholic on your social media feeds.
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”~Matthew 28: 19
I have approximately 500+ friends on facebook and the majority of them are family members and close, Catholic friends. I lay the catholicity down pretty hard on my wall. I fill it with Catholic news, memes, posts and status updates. Ironically, I very rarely get likes or shares. However, when I post a picture of my daughters, you can bet they’ll get at least 30 likes by the end of the day. Yes, I know they are cute, but what do they have over Christ’s bride?
Why don’t we “like” our Catholic faith? Are we afraid of having to defend it when others see it at the top of their news feeds? Are we not convinced it is beautiful? Is it too cliché, not modern enough for our taste?
Do me a favor and share this post. Tweet it. Comment below. I really want to know why.
What about you. Do you have spiritual weaknesses? Let us know in the combox.