September 9, 2011

Picture not mine, couldn't find an attribution
So sorry that I haven't really been around much lately, or that what I've posted hasn't been anything substantial!  There's probably a variety of reasons for that.  One thing I've been thinking of lately is where I am spiritually.  We converted 4 years ago, so I feel at the point where the initial zeal of conversion has died down.  It's a bit of a crossroads, I think, where your faith either fades away, or matures.  I've known people who jumped from denomination/religion to denomination/religion and I think that played a part- every few years, after the fire dies down, they search for something new to reignite it (not unlike how some people treat their spouses/significant others!)

It's amazing what a big effect it has on my entire life when I'm feeling spiritually "down."  Our modern, secular society very much compartmentalizes our faith- it's okay to do "religious stuff" on holidays and maybe Sunday, but to have your faith be an integral part of your every day life is seen as bizarre and gets you labeled as a religious nut.  None of us are completely free of this secular influence, and so I think we can really underestimate the positive influence a strong faith life has on the "other" areas of our life (though really, there are no "other" areas, everything we have and do is for the Lord!)  I know whenever I really I've been exceptionally snippy, argumentative, depressed, etc, I can look back and see it coincides with a "dry spell."  Have I been doing a daily rosary?  When's the last time I went to Christ in the Sacrament of Confession?  Have I been following the daily Mass readings and reading the Bible every day?  Almost always, the answer is "no."

It's definitely one of those "vicious cycles," at least for me!  I feel down spiritually or emotionally and start slacking in my faith life, which just makes me feel even more down (spiritually AND emotionally).  I start committing little venial sins, almost out of spite, and then it progresses into more serious sins.  Before I know it, I'm having a pity party and questioning why I ever bothered converting in the first.  While I very occasionally had these periods early in my conversion, they were pretty brief and easy to get over.  The farther out I get from my initial conversion, the longer those periods get when they come, and the harder they are to get over.  As I mentioned above, I think this is partially because the zeal of conversion has worn off, and it's time for your faith to mature and grow.  The question is, of course, how do you do that?  I don't have a perfect answer (obviously!), but I have a couple of thoughts.

Firstly, I think it's important to acknowledge the fact that spiritual attack is very real.  The devil is real, demons are real, and they're actively looking to turn you from Christ.  The devil hates Christ, hates His Church, and wants nothing more than your soul.  It's not something many Christians want to talk about, for fear of looking ignorant or superstitious, but pretending it's not a very real threat is extremely dangerous.  (Read CS Lewis' Screwtape Letters, if you haven't already!)

For me, getting back on track and rising out of that spiritual dry spells usually starts with a good, sincere confession.  Often when I've fallen into a funk, I'm feeling dejected and unworthy.  I know I "should" be reading my Bible and coming to Christ in prayer, but it's hard for me to overcome my apathetic "what's the point?" mindset.  Confession helps me feel cleansed and freed from that.  Much like with my husband, I think- if I've sparked argument, I might think about the ways wecould be connected, but until I've come and said "I'm sorry," it's hard to find the desire or courage.  It's extremely unfortunate that modern Catholics use this Sacrament so infrequently (and I'm counting myself among them!)  It's often spoken of with a sense of dread, but we should recognize that Confession is a gift, not a punishment or a chore.  The priest is there to guide us and administer the Sacrament, much as in Baptism, but truly, we're meeting with Christ and reconciling ourselves to Him.  It's a beautiful expression of God's mercy and love for us, and something we shouldn't fear.  There's nothing we've done that's unforgivable, and God earnestly wants us freed from the burden of our sins.


ccc said...

A very eloquent post. I sorely needed to hear this, especially the spiritual attack of the evil one. I think that is what is happening to me lately. I have weaknesses, and unfortunately the devil knows and is playing on them. I need to go to Confession and "start over" too. Thanks for posting something so honest.

Rightthinker said...

What a wonderfully "real" post..You are right on the money that most Christians don't like to admit that they are a constant target for the devil, and therefore the world.

None of us who fall at the feet of Jesus are above drifting from Him...I think if we believe we are, then we are at the most prone for doing so!

God bless you, and know you are His, even when you don't feel the fire!

Katie said...

Thank you both!!

Colleen said...

I relate to all of this post. In a way it is comforting to know we all have the same struggles and doubts because sometimes in life, this journey of faith feels awfully lonely and fraught with opposition. I especially like what you said about there being no "other" parts to life if all we do is for the Lord. Very well said! I think most people would be far more comfortable though if faith and all it entails was simply regulated to specific days of the week or times of the year.

I really look forward to reading more here! I feel refreshed by what I have read so far. Thank you!