Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Spiritual Root Canal.

Below are notes from an examination I made following a regional retreat led by Monsignor Esseff for the Lay Missionaries of Charity. This retreat marked the conclusion of a particularly difficult year during which I was prone to negative introspection. On the positive side, I became aware that my fear of displeasing others often paralyzes me, which is no surprise in our politically correct culture where one of the worst evils is to offend someone. This realization initiated an ongoing struggle toward greater assertiveness and freedom from the dreaded guilt complex. I posted an excerpt a while back but it may be worth posting the longer version.

A Spiritual Root Canal
2014 Lay Missionaries of Charity Regional Retreat, Mount Pocono PA

I feel like there are enemy strongholds (at least one) that oppress me and due to the LMC retreat and some other things that have happened (and possibly due to things that will happen soon), the enemy feels threatened and is trying to make my life miserable. By the grace of God, although I have fallen into misery at times, I have been emotionally steady for the most part.

This stronghold inhibits my spiritual life and manifests typically as fear and resistance to performing good works; sometimes I feel that no matter how badly I want to do a good work no amount of coaxing or threatening myself can get me to do it. In fact, the more effort I put into trying to overcome the resistance the worse I seem to fair. Evil thoughts enter my mind saying things like "I've always failed before so this time will be no different." "Even if God were to give me the words to say I would not say them because I'm such a coward." Obsessive guilt and rationalization always follow.

Many people have offered advice and suggested that I am simply weak-willed. They tell me that in every situation I have a choice as to what I will do and I need to more strongly exert my will to make the right choice. But I feel like my will can never be strong enough to overcome an enemy stronghold.

People tell me that I need stronger faith, greater trust in God, more respect for self and love of my neighbor, greater contrition, etc. etc. All of this is true, and I pray for it. The primary battleground happens to be at my job. This is where I fail the most in performing the good works that I feel called to. This makes me unhappy, which is perhaps reasonable. However, for a while, I felt bitter toward God for not leading me somewhere that I could be more spiritually competent. I have a strong desire to feel 'useful' to God, when I need to be satisfied with His love alone. After the last few years of praying about it, I feel that this job is where God wills me to be right now.

People offer me knowledge and advice. They tell me that I'm unhappy because I'm doing things wrong or because I'm seeing the situation in the wrong way. They remind me that I'm there to save souls and that my mere presence is an important witness. I am bringing Jesus to the people who would never go to him. My suffering is a gift that I can offer for their conversions and that will more closely unite me with our suffering Lord.

I've read Practicing the Presence of God and He Leadeth Me and Abandonment to Divine Providence and feel that I have enough knowledge to prepare me one hundred times over for what needs to happen and where I lack. But somehow my heart doesn't listen or understand. I feel like I should continue to struggle in this way until God provides transformational grace. But I see my pride in everything I have related so far. I see it everywhere. Often I can no longer distinguish between what comes from God and what comes from my pride. Everything seems to be pride. I feel lost and like I can no longer trust my ability to discern God's will.

I long for interior silence to stop the constant reasoning in my mind. I need to listen to the voice of God, but I don't know how. Maybe God will teach me if I would just sit in silence for a while. Probably what I do need is more silent adoration. Eucharistic Adoration is my refuge where I find peace. I think that perhaps God wants me to rest in His peace and grow stronger. I am a doer and something inside makes me feel guilty for resting. I think God wants to cure me of that. Allowing me to rest in Him is a way that God shows me his love. I need to learn to rest in order to experience God's love. Maybe I can let Him do the 'doing' for a while. Maybe listening to His voice is not always like receiving orders. Maybe I can listen to His breathing. Maybe I can listen to the voice of God singing a lullaby. Maybe His voice is simply telling me that He loves me. And I ignore that voice. I don't believe that voice comes from God. Because I expect the voice of God to be giving orders. I am accomplishment driven. I tend to show love through loyalty and effort. Maybe God just wants me to love, like I did at the beginning. I wasn't trying to accomplish anything. I just wanted to know God. I wanted to be His friend. Can I hear the brokenhearted voice of God as it cries: "you have lost the love you had at first." Revelation 2:4

I feel like things are being shifted around in my soul and I'm being purged of some things that are not suppose to be there. This is uncomfortable. Something like growing pains. Not a radical change like when God healed me of social anxiety but small, almost unnoticeable changes which are perhaps even more important because they come from deep within. The social anxiety was superficial. It bound me and kept me from freedom in Christ but I always recognized it as something foreign that was not part of my being. I realized that I needed to be set free. However, deep down there are disorders which are firmly rooted and seem to be a fundamental part of my identity. These need to be rooted out and purified. Our Father in Heaven continues to prune me and remove anything that is not of God but this is never a comfortable process. God is performing another spiritual root canal.

Monsignor Esseff says that I am Jesus. A meditation comes to mind. The baby Jesus has been born in my heart. The angels gather round and sing praises saying "Glory to God in the Highest!" Shepherds come and the wise men bringing gold and frankincense and myrrh. The source of this joyful celebration is within me. I will rein with Jesus. I will worship with Jesus. I will die with Jesus. I am Jesus.

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