Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

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Don’t let it bring you down

July 28th, 2011, Promulgated by benanderson

My wife and I had what I thought to be a rather reflective conversation tonight on a topic probably most of us consider deeply:

What are the pitfalls of over-focusing on problems in the Church and how can we avoid such pitfalls?

Satan desires our souls. He is constantly lurking, waiting for the perfect time to pounce on us and bring us down with him. Just when we think, “alright, I’ve got my life all straightened out. God can go back to being on the side stage in my life,” that’s when he is there to lure you away. He will be disguised in whatever way is most appealing to you. For us in the Cleansing Fire community, that disguise might just be a false orthodox Catholic intention. We must always be on our guard. (see CS Lewis’ Screwtape Letters for more)

Pitfalls:

1) Focusing too much on someone or something else and not enough on our own spiritual journey. I am obviously not saying we shouldn’t call out our leaders, but we must not forget that our own souls are in constant danger. He will not abandon us and He will always win the battle for us, but we must never forget to rely on Him and Him alone.

2) Forgetting that the vast majority of people are so far removed from Church and God that they can’t even comprehend the internal battles of the Church. These people need us to start with the fundamental Gospel message. If we’re too focused on internal battles, we might not be at our best to share with joy the Gospel message. We must be all things to all people.

3) Forgetting that God is ultimately in control. Every time we think or speak, “How can this be? This is such an injustice!”, we should direct those comments upward towards God. It makes us think twice before we speak because we know full well that God’s ways are perfect. We must conform our wills to His (not the other way around). As far as defending His Church, we are merely His foot soldiers.

Remedies (obvious Catholic stuff here):

1) Prayer. Especially the Rosary. Especially the Sorrowful Mysteries. However bad we think we have it, it doesn’t compare to Christ… nor the Saints… nor the martyrs.

2) Mass (daily if your schedule allows it).

3) Scriptural and other spiritual reading.

3) Understand that God’s grace works through it all. God uses all situations for our spiritual benefit. A friend worded it this way, “somehow in God’s Providence, men like Palumbos, Callan, McBrien, Clark etc etc are here to become the steps on the ladder that we by God’s grace are climbing to sainthood. That carmelite cloistered nun that drove Saint Therese up the wall is one of those steps that helped her to sainthood…. may it be the same for us, God willing.”

The ultimate weapon we have is sainthood. When men become saints, Satan is driven away. Often we hear such words when someone is trying to persuade us into not speaking out in public as we do here at CleansingFire. But that’s a false dichotomy. We need to do both – be a saint AND speak out (with charity and clarity).

I don’t claim to have any special wisdom and I’m sure what I’ve written here is elementary to most of you (whom I assume are all saints). But I know for myself I need reminders from time to time. So perhaps some might find this useful. I’d also encourage all of you to share your thoughts in the comments section. What are your pitfalls and remedies?

Don’t bother telling me Neil Young didn’t write this song to give orthodox Catholics peace – my fingers are in my ears.

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11 Responses to “Don’t let it bring you down”

  1. avatar Hopefull says:

    Thank you for reminding us, Ben. It’s important to be reminded and “re-discern.” I think discernment is one of the least taught parts of a spiritual life. Listening for the still, soft voice. Often the discernment isn’t what to do, but between what to do and doing nothing. Which of these do I want to try to explain at my particuar judgment? I guess I’d rather explain doing my best and messing it up, than explain why I did nothing.

  2. avatar Ink says:

    For all the 90s kids reading this (or anyone else who just likes kids’ TV shows): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeR3TxL_LUg&feature=related
    (can someone please turn that into a link?)

  3. avatar Ink says:

    …never mind, guess it links itself.

  4. avatar christian says:

    Thanks for posting that article Ben. Sometimes we can get so wrapped up with our busy lives, we do not get a chance to step back and look at it all. When I was younger and dealing with things changing in my life, (my mother was dying of cancer at a relatively young age), while I had a lot of hours at work, was taking care of two young children, supporting our family, along with multiple church duties, I decided to take one day off for myself to meditate on Eternity. I scheduled the day off in advance and made arrangements for my children to be watched (they knew I was would be back, I was just taking the day off)
    I traveled a distance to the lake, rented a rowboat, and rowed through very rough waters to eventually get to my desired spot way out in Lake Ontario. The sun was overhead and the waves were gently and steadily rolling under the rowboat. It was a unique time to have by myself doing nothing but meditating on Eternity in the face of all my challenges and struggles of daily life; especially the situation with my mother.
    Sometimes we need to do nothing but be still and take in God. I felt the rocking motion as I heard the waves wash up against the rowboat and thought of Eternity with God while the sun beamed down on me and touched my face. It helped to give me strength as I dealt with the overwhelming sorrow and changing nature of my life. Taking that one day off to be with myself and do nothing but meditate on Eternity and take in God gave me strength to continue on to do what I needed to do.
    Meditating on Eternity also helps to put things in perspective. It helps you weigh things to their intrinsic worth in view of how they will be seen in Eternity. It will help us to choose our battles well, as well as our words and actions. God give us grace to experience a glimpse into Eternity with You and give us the Love, Peace, Strength, and Courage to live well for You.

  5. avatar Mike says:

    Ben,

    This article recently appeared on The Integrated Catholic Life.

    While not bearing precisely on your point, it does offer some interesting insights on living in the world while trying to remain not of the world.

  6. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Hopefull,

    I think discernment is one of the least taught parts of a spiritual life…
    Iā€™d rather explain doing my best and messing it up, than explain why I did nothing.

    agree and agree! The worst part of the progressive agenda isn’t the nonsense they attempt to teach. It’s the lack of teaching all the stuff we REALLY need to know to equip us in our attempt to get to heaven.

    christian,
    Thank you for that story and sharing a piece of yourself.

    Mike,
    Thanks for that article. There are a lot of parallels there and it got my wheels spinning. About once a week, I consider leaving it all behind and living off the land like the Amish šŸ™‚ Not sure I could sell that idea to the wife and kids, though.

    After I published this last night, I realized I had overlooked a major “remedy” – Christian fellowship. This article really brought that out.

    Ink,
    Somewhat related to Mike’s article – I wasn’t privileged enough to have cable growing up, so nickelodeon is rather foreign to me.

  7. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    ANYTHING that may distract you from your ongoing and developing relationship with Jesus should be suspect and probably in need of discernment; be it liberal issues, conservative issues or even our everyday living issues.

  8. avatar MichaelL says:

    Ben, thanks for this post.

  9. avatar Eliza10 says:

    Thanks for sharing this fruitful convrsation with us, Ben. The things we may know are worth repeating because it is never tiresome to hear the truth restated! And the problems with Bishop Clark, with his decisions, with his administration are all very agitating, and when we are agitated, we turn to God and seek refuge in His Peace that passes all understanding. And all those “things we know” are the very things to get us to that Home Port fast in the midst of a storm.

    Sometimes when I am agitated, appalled, or scandalized by Bishop Clark I remember my duty to those in my life. I imagine myself in Purgatory and seeing the sorrowful grieving face of Jesus. And He is grieving because one of His beloved, a prominent DoR personage, died, and did not make the road to Heaven. And I realize that I did not do my duty to pray and offer sacrifice for this personage’s soul, and I see my part in Our Lord’s grief – I did not do what he called me to do.

    And I must remember to also pray and offer up sufferings for those agitators who have been misled by the divisive DoR teachings.

  10. avatar brother of penance says:

    Brother Ben, this post DON’T LET IT BRING YOU DOWN really did lift me up. Thank you so very much. The IGNATIUS CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE NEW TESTAMENT, SECOND CATHOLIC EDITION RSV, with notes by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch, contains a pertinent quote from Saint Bede. On page 178 in the note on John 8:8 one reads. “Christ, who twice bends down to write on the ground, teaches us to bend low in humility to examine ourselves both before and after addressing the faults of our neighbor. If his example becomes our practice, we will avoid as he did the extremes of being unjust and unmerciful towards others.” Beloved brother, I believe we have been provided by the Venerable Bede a very good remedy to avoid a very dangerous pitfall. May Jesus Christ be praised, now and forever!

  11. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    Sometimes I go to the Franciscans of the Renewal web site or write to a friar I know there. The CFRs in New York put a 6 foot picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe on a dolly, take it on a subway and go to abortion clinics with her in tow. They say the rosary outside the clinic and offer to counsel people. When I see all the work they do, I scrape together some money to help them out. Why??? Because I know my money is being used properly and something is right somewhere in this Church.

    If you know Father Groeschel, that is his order.

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