February 27, 2010

Agony

Gentle Reader: I'm struggling with dryness this Lent. I feel completely disconnected. Is it even Lent? Really. I'm not "feeling" it this year. Maybe I've fallen from the high of being a newly Confirmed in 2007 to the day-to-day reality. I'm not a Princess anymore! I don't know.

I pray daily. I read the Scriptures daily. I fast and abstain as prescribed.

But, this week I fell into serious sin, mortal sin, and went to Confession today. I told the priest I feel dry and disconnected. He told me to pray to Mary for strength.

You know how it is when you can't face someone after you've screwed up? So, it was with me this week. I couldn't hardly pray to Jesus much less his Mother. How dare I even show my face to either much less deign to speak to them full of sin as I was.

It was then that I realized the shame is what can make some fall away and stay away. There are people, I used to be one, who sin and then are ashamed and then are afraid to face themselves. If you can't face yourself then where is the Lord? Yep, can't face Him either. Eventually, you quit trying. Eventually, you stop going to Mass. Eventually, you quit praying. Eventually, you justify yourself with the hollow excuses society conveniently provides: "You don't need to go to Church." "Just be spiritual" "There is no such thing as sin" "Well, you didn't kill anyone" etc etc.

When you fall down, don't stay down. Get up! It's never too late to start over. I got up and went to Confession. Did that cure everything? It cured my soul but I still feel dry.

Come to think of it, maybe this IS the best Lent ever for me. I'm united with Jesus in the Garden. I feel alone.

17 Comments:

Blogger Adoro said...

Remember that dryness is part of the spiritual life. It's not about consolations, and if you've been receiving them and suddenly are not, it doesn't mean that you're doing anything wrong in your spiritual practices. Rather, it means that God is taking things up a notch.

And remember this: the moment you stop confessing...you're lost. Stay close to the Sacraments, and don't focus on "feelings." Feelings are superficial. They are ghosts.

Only God is real.

February 27, 2010 9:27 PM  
Blogger Thou Art Jules said...

Thank you for this post! I love to read these real and raw posts. Not that they are lovely because I know that it is painful it is just refreshing everytime I read something to honest!

I believe that everything happens for a reason - hence no word that means coincidence in the Bible :-)

I will be keeping you in my prayers.

February 27, 2010 10:59 PM  
Blogger Joe Cap said...

I have heard that when you are experiencing 'dryness' ,that is actually a good thing, because you have been living a good life, and Satan is trying to wreck it all for you. When I feel dry or non-commital, I just go through the motions anyway, and God will restore my faith.

February 27, 2010 11:15 PM  
Blogger Angela M. said...

Whenever I experience dryness someone I care about it usually growing in the faith. It's like all the "deposits" I put into my spiritual "bank account" are being redirected by the "bank manager" to someone who really needs them.

Don't despair about the dryness - constant consolation is for those of weak or new faith - it keeps them coming back until they get "settled" in. You are obviously there.

"If we really want to pray
we must first learn to listen
for in the silence of the heart
God speaks."
A little Albanian nun in white and blue habit said that.

Love you!

February 27, 2010 11:17 PM  
Anonymous オテモヤン said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

February 28, 2010 1:44 AM  
Blogger Mairin :o) said...

Our priest just gave a homily on spiritual dryness and said that when we feel spiritually dry and still try to reach out to God despite feeling nothing we are comforting (or consoling) God. I thought that was very comforting.

Obviously God needs nothing from us but it is at the time of dryness that we actually give something to Him.

Keep up the fight!

February 28, 2010 10:17 AM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

Remember, Cath, Mother Teresa went many years with no "feelings." Fr. Corapi says that it has nothing to do with feelings; feelings change, often.

Prayer is a statement of your free will in your conversation with your God.

February 28, 2010 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Austringer said...

My priest has said that God often grants consolations and warm fuzzies when we first begin to take our faith seriously. Sort of like rewarding those first baby steps...but then, when we need to mature and grwo up, he takes those superficial feelings away.

That certainly has been my experience: I can recall those heady days when all seemed light and joy. Those days are long gone...now it's just dry, dry, dry. Much of the time it just seems like I'm going through the motions.

Some years back I wondered if I was leaning too heavily on the good parish life I enjoyed -- friendship with the priest, lots of involvement in the parish, etc. -- and prayed for guidance. God answered my prayers by knocking all of that out from underneath me, in a very painful, almost brutal way, though those things are obviously good things. I would guess that other people have experienced similar situations -- I trust that it's God's way of teaching us to rely on Him alone, and is part of that maturing process.

February 28, 2010 11:52 AM  
Blogger ArchAngel's Advocate said...

Normally I don't recommend doing the Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola without a spiritual director, but I think you could benefit from his "Rules for the Discernment of Spirits" (especially rules 8 & 9)
You can find them here . 2 prayers which might help you through this period are the Suscipe and The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. Remember that the Israelites spent 40 years in the desert, and Christ 40 days, in preparation for the great works God was to work through them.

February 28, 2010 2:09 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Thanks everyone. You've all been a great help.

February 28, 2010 4:08 PM  
Anonymous Austringer said...

One more comment, Cathy -- at times my dryness has been so acute that I have found myself wondering if I really have any faith left at all. However, the honest answer to that question has been that, if I didn't have faith, I would be in despair. Since I'm not in despair, the faith must be there though I can't "feel" it. The analogy I've used is that it's like knowing the furnace is operating in wintertime, even if I'm somewhere where I can't hear it, by it not being cold in the house.

Hope that helps...

February 28, 2010 4:34 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

My dear Wormwood... er, Cathy,

Find a copy of 'The Screwtape Letters' by C.S. Lewis and read what that arch-tempter Screwtape has to say about spiritual 'troughs'. Here's a sample:

"Now it may surprise you to learn that in His efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks; some of His special favourites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else."

While you're looking for your bound volume of Lewis's works, I'll pray to Our Lady for you.

Bede

February 28, 2010 8:22 PM  
Blogger belinda said...

Your relationship to Christ isn't devalued because your feeling dry. That's when it starts to become real...when the work and hardships begin many people fold...you know when the feeling is gone.

( example..It's time to work in the fields. Who me Lord?? This isn't fun and it doesn't feel very good. I'm outta here.)

Your relationship to Christ is a real relationship - with ups and downs except that your the one going up and down as Christ remains the same. When you may feel dryness towards him he's feeling no dryness towards you but a love so deep and rich that your human mind can not grasp it.

Your describing why I could never be a protestant again, because Catholics know that real love is more than a feeling... it's an act of the will and feelings can be deceptive.(I'm blogging that :)

March 01, 2010 11:55 AM  
Blogger Melody K said...

There's a hymn that begins;
"I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew; He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me.." Whenever we look for God, even if we feel we didn't find Him, He caused that movement of our soul toward Himself (if that makes any sense).

March 01, 2010 6:22 PM  
Blogger The Little Way said...

A few months ago I had a stupid but heated argument with my husband and then felt too embarrassed to pray. By Divine Providence, I came across this excerpt in my Magnificat:

"Now I make the sign of the Cross with amazement, and it doesn't seem to me that I underwent any danger as bad as with this invention the devil taught me under the pretext of humility. He put the thought into my head to question how, since I was so wretched and had received so many favors, I could engage in prayer; and the thought that it was enough for me to recite, like everyone else, my obligatory vocal prayers; and the question about how I could pretend to do more since I didn't even say my vocal prayers well; he suggesting that engaging in prayer showed a lack of reverence and little esteem for the favors of God.
"It was right to think about and understand these things; but to give up the practice of prayer was the greatest evil. May you be blessed Lord, Who came to my rescue."

St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila)

March 01, 2010 7:30 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

I double what Austringer said. Sometimes it is so difficult!

March 01, 2010 9:57 PM  
Blogger Tancred said...

It's like the Boston song, "More than a feeling."

March 04, 2010 8:28 AM  

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