ON BEING FAITHFUL
Dear friends, this is not the meditation I had planned for today. However, I have been dealing with one little crisis after another for the past two weeks and, in truth, have been writing these meditations after midnight, averaging only four hours sleep a night the past week. I am exhausted. And so, after putting out several little fires today, I prayed about what to do—and this writing came immediately to mind. It is, for me, one of the most important “words” on my heart this past year, as it has helped me through so many trials by simply reminding myself to “be faithful.” To be certain, this message is an important part of this Lenten Retreat. Thanks for understanding.
I apologize that there is no podcast for today… I’m simply out of gas, as it’s almost 2am. I have an important “word” on Russia that I will publish shortly… something I’ve been praying about since last summer. Thanks for your prayers…
THERE is so much turmoil happening in our world, so quickly, that it can be overwhelming. There is so much suffering, adversity, and busyness in our lives that it can be discouraging. There is so much dysfunction, societal breakdown, and division that it can be numbing. In fact, the world’s rapid descent into darkness in these times has left many feeling fearful, in despair, paranoid… paralyzed.
But the answer to all this, brothers and sisters, is to simply be faithful.
In all your encounters today, in all your duties, in your rest, recreation, and interactions, the path forward is to be faithful. And this means, then, that you must have custody of your senses. It means that you need to pay attention to the will of God in each moment. It means that you need to make everything you do a deliberate act of love toward God and neighbour. Catherine Doherty once said,
Little things done exceedingly well over and over again for the love of God: this is going to make you saints. It is absolutely positive. Don’t seek immense mortifications of flagellations or what have you. Seek the daily mortification of doing a thing exceedingly well. —The People of the Towel and Water,from Moments of Grace calendar, January 13th
Part of that mortification, then, means turning away from the little distractions and curiosities that the evil one constantly sends in order to make us unfaithful. I remember sitting across the table from Msgr. John Essef, who was once the spiritual director of Mother Teresa and who was himself directed by St. Pio. I shared with him the burden of my ministry and the challenges I face. He looked intently into my eyes and remained silent for several seconds. Then he leaned forward and said, “Satan does not need to take you from a 10 to a 1, but from a 10 to a 9. All he needs to do is distractyou.”
And how true this is. St. Pio once said to his spiritual daughter:
Raffaelina, you will be safe from the hidden schemes of Satan by rejecting his suggestions as soon as they come. —December 17th, 1914, Padre Pio’s Spiritual Direction for Every Day, Servant Books, p. 9
You see, temptation will always follow you, dear reader. But temptation itself is not a sin. It is when we begin to entertain these suggestions that we become ensnared (please read The Tiger in the Cage). A subtle distraction, a thought, an image in the sidebar of your browser… the battle is most easily won when you reject these temptations right then and there. It is much easier to walk away from a fight than to wrestle your way out of it!
A lot of people write me and ask if they should move out of the U.S. or stock up on food, etc. But forgive me if all I can seem to utter these days is be faithful. Scripture says,
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path… I set myself to carry out your will in fullness, for ever. (Psalm 119:105, 112)
A lamp, not a headlight. If you are being faithful to God in each moment, if you are following the light of His lamp… then how can you miss the next step, the next turn in the road? You won’t. And more than that, the will of God becomes your food, your strength, your protection from the pitfalls of the enemy. As Psalm 18:31 says, “he is a shield for all who take refuge in him.” The refuge is His will, which then shields you from the clutches of the evil one. His will is what gives the soul peace and true rest, which produces the fruit of joy.
Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest, so that no one may fall after the same example of disobedience. (Today’s first reading)
And can I add—don’t feel guilty for living. Live your life. Enjoy this life, every moment of it, in the simplicity and purity of heart that makes it truly enjoyable. Our Lord himself teaches us that to worry about tomorrow is futile. So what if we may be living in the end times? The answer to enduring these days is to simply be faithful (and this is coming from someone who is writing on some very difficult topics these days!)
Have you failed? Have you been unfaithful? Are you frozen in fear, either of punishment or of the times we are living in? Then lower yourself before Jesus like the paralytic in the Gospel and say, “Lord, I am disoriented, scattered, distracted… I am a sinner, frozen in my dysfunction. Heal me Lord…” And His reply to you is twofold:
Child, your sins are forgiven… I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.
That is, be faithful.
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