Many of us spend our entire lives searching for a meaningful relationship with God, yet never find it. Many will serve God to some degree but the intimate, peace-filled relationship God wants to have with each of us is something most of us never obtain. We are looking for God, wanting a life of peace and eternal life, but we fill up our souls with everything else leaving little to no room for Him. Our Lord is talking to us, trying to guide us, but we can’t hear Him—the noise of our lives has drowned out the voice of Our Creator.
The noise—the distractions—are so overwhelming to us, but we keep running back to them. Why? Because the distractions—worldly pleasures—are so very attractive, with much of them offering instant gratification and effortless satisfaction. How can we find God when we are so caught up in the pleasures of this world? We can’t. How can we obtain the relationship God wants to have with us if we don’t know how to go to Him and not the world? Sadly, most don’t know how to be quiet and desire Him alone and as a result we can’t obtain the relationship God desires us to have.
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:36).
God yearns for us to love Him with our everything—all of our hearts, souls, and minds. Like Saint Teresa of Avila tells us, “What do you think, daughters, is His will? That we may become quite perfect and so be made one with Him and with His Father as He prayed we might be. Observe, then, what is wanting [lacking] in us [and change] to obtain this.”
How wonderful life would be if we would do this! Our God deserves nothing less from us, except most of His children love the noise more than they love Him. Do we try to love God—I mean really try to love Him in the way He desires us to, the way He deserves? Or are we simply trying to improve our life; being more concerned about ourselves than if we are loving God. Are we really giving Him our everything? However, it is obedience to this commandment that delivers us everything…all that we truly desire–a life and eternity of peace.
God wants to be perfectly united with us, in our every thought, word, and deed. Yet, it is our sins and our sins alone that are keeping us from a perfect relationship with Him. Our sins wound Jesus’ Sacred Heart, which is so tender and so deeply in love with us. Each and every sin—from the smallest to the largest—in varying degrees, pushes God away, the God we desire to know. And when we willingly choose mortal sin, we reject God’s saving grace which we desperately need in order to be saved.
God wants us to give our lives over to Him, in order to transform us by filling us up with His love, because “He made us, we belong to him, we are his people” (Psalm 100:3). All of our anxieties, despair and worries will end when we truly do so. This is the truth. Do we really believe in the healing power of Christ? However sadly, so many of us have yet to give any part of our lives to Him—never mind all of our lives. Many of us have never experienced God’s amazing love, or the incredible peace and joy He can give. We love the things of the world too much. Many hardly have a thought of Him or heavenly things and strive to find happiness with everything but God and as a result have almost no love for Him. Horribly, many of us who actually do think of God, use our prayer life solely to ask Him for things, acting like God is supposed to serve us instead of the other way around.
The devil has convinced many of us to give God praise, but only in order to obtain His help in return instead of truly praising Him and expecting nothing in return, worshiping Him simply because He love us and deserves our love. While, some will give Him so much praise hoping for a better relationship with Him, but have become blinded to the fact that God wants them to serve Him too–to live for His will. Yet, others will worship Him but without truly desiring to not offend Him. They are missing the main ingredient to a truly faithful life and omit daily striving to remove sin and are blindfully scourging Him at the same time as they praise Him. Horribly, many of us don’t know how to truly love God.
We want a happy life, yet have problems, so we ask God for His help—which can be good. However, the devil tricks us into not wanting anything to do our crosses (suffering), even if it happens to be God’s will for us. We beg God to alleviate our suffering, and become bitter or full of complaints if He doesn’t remove it. We are in anything but peace. Many think our suffering as unfair or question how God could allow such a thing, and for those who are still living for this world and it’s pleasures, living for God’s will and loving the cross, giving up doing what we wish, or sacrificing our comfort, or even losing something we love, to suffer for God, will be just crazy. It takes much grace to trust in God and joyfully carrying our crosses, but for most, this has been forgotten and we aren’t even attempting to gain the faith to do such a thing. But we are supposed to be living to find eternal life, not living for our will or the world.
The cross is God’s great blessing for us to guide us away from what isn’t important to what is. It isn’t a curse or something bad. The cross is how we will find a fantastic faith and wonderful peace, but it is only for those who work towards embracing their suffering, trusting in God to bring them to the faith they need to be saved through it. The blessings in the cross are squandered for those who want nothing to do with their challenges and suffering. Everything that happens is so God can bring us to a saving faith…even in our most painful trials.
“If God sends you many sufferings, it is a sign that He has great plans for you and certainly wants to make you a saint [so you can be in Heaven with Him]” (St. Ignatius Loyola).
“Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal [suffering] that is taking place among you to test you ” (1 Peter 4:12). Do we think God needs to test us, that He need the trials to know if we are faithful. No. He already knows the state of our soul. The trials are meant for us, to help us so we can see if we have a little faith or a saving, true faith, in Christ. We are supposed to learn from them. If we are crying in despair and have worries, are yelling and spilling out complaints, have anxieties and are displaying frustrations, impatience or anger, we know we are lacking much faith–trust in God. Truly those aren’t “normal” behaviors. Well, they are for those with little grace…but we need much grace to obtain a saving faith. We need to look to into our unloving behaviors to see where our errors are from and repent and work, with God’s grace, towards CHANGING them, since each and every one of those unloving/untrusting choices offends God whom we should be loving with all of our heart. Every unloving act is from self love (wanting things our way, our pride)…not tolerance of imperfections and a willingness to carry a cross.
“Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).
To have the wonderful life God wants for us, we need to fully accept whatever God’s wills for us as good, even if what happens seems quite bad, because we know, God allows everything for the good of our soul, for those who trust in Him. If we’re called to suffer, then we need to praise God for that suffering. If God sends us peace, that’s wonderful, but if He doesn’t then that’s is fine with us too. If He removes our peace it’s for a good reason, and we need to examine our conscience to see where we’ve failed in trusting God and how this has come about, so we can come to know the dynamics of our sinfulness in order for us to repent and change to gain the peace God desires to give us. God gives great peace to those who trust in Him. This we should be working towards obtaining. We must always remember God loves us perfectly and wants to guide us to eternal life in every circumstance in our life, especially our crosses.
“[We are] in peace, because of our trust in you [that whatever you allow to happen, no matter how big or small (our cross), will lead us to a life and eternity of peace if we believe]” (Isaiah 26:3).
Therefore, we must never fret but look instead for God’s plan in our lives, in everything that happens, so with patience we can learn what He desires for us and change our ways accordingly. It’s in craving our own will instead of God’s will, rejecting the seemingly tragic events as just horrible, that leads to our demise, because we think we somehow know better than God and don’t wish to do things God’s way. The proof that we need to grow much in our faith is when we praise God when good happens…and then cry in despair and fret when bad occurs. Yet, we should be giving Him praise in the good and the bad…because it is all, in a sense, good (God’s plan). This we must believe…this is faith. God truly will turn any “bad” into good for those who believe.
“Sickness is the acid test of spirituality, because it disclosed whether our virtue is real or sham [imagined, because only those with true faith (with much grace) behave loving when sick and tired]” (St. Alphonsus).
It’s our pride that destroys our peace and kills us because we don’t want the cross. We will declare we are faithful people because of our prayers and works, but it is in our life, our actions under trial, that proves if the devil has blinded us to who we really are. Are we angry and livid when people treat us poorly or things don’t go as we wish? Are we full of excuses when our unloving behavior comes about or are we full of faith which produces sorrow that leads to repentance and change. To obtain the faith we need, remember God truly knows what is best, so embrace every cross. It will take a continuous, conscious prayerful effort to grow into truly loving and trusting in God in all we do. But all of our effort will be worth it and God is waiting to help. So run to Him in the sacraments, obtain grace, and grow in true faith.
Sadly however, most of us have never been taught how to truly love and trust God, and don’t even know what true faith really is. We’ve instead developed horrible sinful habits, where we do everything with self-serving purposes, crying to others for self-pity as we wallow in our suffering, as we never or rarely give a thought to how we’re offending God by loving ourselves–choosing our will–over His.
Until our reason for praising God and asking for His help is elevated to doing so for the love of Him, so we can change to perfectly serve Him, loving whatever He wills, we don’t yet have true love for God. We still have a selfish love—loving God so He will satisfy our will and desires. Of course, God wants us to go to Him to ask for His assistance; He loves helping us, but we need to know if we are asking for His will to be done or our own? Are we asking God for a healing so we can go live life as we wish or so we and those we pray for can become a better servants of His? “You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3). The devil has blinded us with our strong-will and self-serving thoughts that we’ve become accustomed to only seeking out our own desires and interest much of the time. Yet, God wants our desires to be the same as His, so we can live out His will perfectly, as His divine will is the only way to Heaven. And God wills us to abandon all sin.
When we pray for something, say, “but only if it’s Your will”—and actually mean it—then we should be content with whatever God allows, knowing it’s His will and is only allowed for our good so we may obtain eternal life. God longs for us to trust Him—that’s what faith in God is. If we don’t have the grace to do this, look for the sins in our life that are pushing away God’s grace, then repent, run to God for strength in the sacraments and remove them. True love for God—trusting in Him and loving Him above all else—is what we need to have to obtain eternal life in Heaven. But if we’re tricked into choosing anything else, including loving ourselves (our will) above God—which is idolatry—then we choose Hell over God’s love and become lost for all of eternity. Just horrible!
“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’[the disciples questioned]…’You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:25-28).
Unfortunately, most of us put ourselves well above God, through our selfish pursuits, without even realizing it. Most of us never even ask ourselves WHY we do what we do. Even people who try to live their lives for God can easily fall into the devil’s trap and blindly live their lives not truly loving the Lord.
For example, we know we should praise God daily and many of us go before God in the Blessed Sacrament and adore Jesus—this is wonderful. However, some of the reasons we go to Adoration are out of commitment, fear of losing our relationship with God if we don’t make time for Him, or because we want the graces He blesses us with when we visit Him in the Blessed Sacrament. All of those reasons are good and true, and of course there’s nothing wrong with seeking them. But we really need to look at our motives behind those reasons—is it mainly to benefit ourselves, or are we mainly doing it to truly love and worship God? Do we want to do all of those things so we can mainly have a better life or mostly so we can better serve God,and obtain the grace needed to stop offending Him? What is our true reasoning behind what we do?
We must seek God’s will and trust in Him to teach us how to properly love him and guide us to Heaven, no matter what it brings—suffering and all, in all that we do. God is trying to teach us, we just need to humble ourselves enough to listen and not block out His voice with the noise of this world. He will guide us in every circumstance of life on how to change to become more pleasing to Him. Fortunately for us, we don’t need to obtain perfect love for God—even though this should be our goal, which is love without sin—in order to accept God’s saving mercy, but our love needs to be true. Again, if we love ourselves or anything of this world more than we love God, we commit idolatry which rejects God’s saving, sanctifying grace and sadly, this is the case with most of us. What’s worse is that a lot of us don’t even recognize it.
“How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:14).
However, the restoration of our souls into a state of grace—in order to become justified—lies in learning how to truly love God, and God is excitedly waiting for us to run to Him to restore our soul. This is simple yet not an easy thing to do, and tragically, few of us are willing to humble ourselves enough to do what’s necessary to learn how to grow into a saving faith, and change our ways to obtain the grace God wants to give us in order to come to truly love Him. For some change is very, very hard; we are stuck in our ways. But we must break out of our comfort zone, be willing to be discomforted, if we want eternal life.“There are many who arrive at the faith, but few that are led into the heavenly kingdom” (Pope St. Gregory the Great).
“Now as a prisoner [in sin] I am learning to give up my own wishes [my will]….I am more and more trained in [correct] discipleship [following Christ] by their ill-usage [poor treatment] of me, but I am not therefore justified [not with a saving faith]. How happy I will be with the beasts [suffering] which are prepared for me [as they will help me obtain the faith I need to be saved]!” (St. Ignatius of Antioch).
God wants everyone to be saved, but how will we ever develop a true love for God, a saving faith, when we allow ourselves to be inundated with all the distractions that reject God’s grace? If we put our personal enjoyment first, filling our minds the things of this world such as listening to music, talk radio, watching TV, shopping, reading non-religious books, hanging out with friends, indulging in restaurant dining, constantly checking our phones, or socializing on the internet, etc., we won’t have any time for God.
We need every moment of quiet time we can get so we can come to truly know Him and His will for us, but it seems as if we cannot stand the silence, and consistently run toward all the noise—all of those distractions—forfeiting God’s grace which could be ours, if we only made time for Him. The quiet is where God resides.
“Be still and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10).
The devil easily convinces us those worldly things are good, because they “feel” good. We also convince ourselves by saying, “God wants me to happy.” That’s true. However, He wants us happily loving Him and Him with all of our heart. Some people will say, “God made all of those things, therefore they are good.” Of course we can love other things, and most of them are good, but we must love God in them and above them. Beware – the devil will have us trying to justify all of our sinful ways so we can see no error and say deaf to God’s voice and His will for us. Yes, these things can be good, but only if we do not allow them to keep us from serving God and desiring Him above all.
Unfortunately, most of us seem to crave everything but God. For example, there’s nothing wrong with owning a cell phone if we are using it only to serve God, yet if we’re allowing ourselves to spend more time on them—enjoying all the latest apps, social media, and constantly checking them—rather than reading the Word of God or praying, being distracted from uniting our thoughts with God, then there’s a problem. How much time have we wasted when we could have given it to God? What grace have we lost through our phones! Can we honestly say we love spending time with God more than we do spending time on our phones—when our actions clearly indicate our phones come first, and distract us away from having God in the forefront of our minds? Are our phones helping us to love God, or hindering us away from Him?
According to St. Francis de Sales, Pope St.Gregory says there are those who deceive themselves into thinking of themselves as holy when we are “full of ourselves…exercise no restraint [self-denial for God] either our body or our heart; we grant our senses all they they ask; we gratify our eyes with curious objects, our mind with innumerable vanities; we spend our time in vain and idle conversations…etc.”
We are supposed to love God above all things, all of the time, with all of our hearts, souls, and minds. But the devil has confused us and distracted us away from God using countless worldly pleasures. If you are too attached to your phone—yet you can’t get rid of it completely because you need a phone to communicate—perhaps you should trade it for either a flip phone, or one with none of the bells and whistles. Then look at it only two or three times a day, using it for basic communication. If you cannot bring yourself to surrender your phone, pray for strength to truly reject the things of this world. Then contemplate eternity and ask yourself if losing your salvation over the love of your phone over God is really worth it.
“All the remedies are ready to save men from eternal death, and they despise the Blood, and have trampled It under the feet of their disordinate affection [love of things other than God, above God]” (God the Father to St. Catherine of Sienna).
Ask your friends for prayers, fast, and perform works of mercy. Do whatever it takes to remove this attachment from your life. Nobody should damn themselves to Hell for all of eternity for the love of any worthless, worldly thing. We need to ask ourselves if we honestly put God first in everything, or are there things we love more than God? If we’re not honest with ourselves—because we don’t want to admit to our guilt and remove the things from our lives that we love more than God—then we will die blind to the truth of who we really are, and be lost forever.
“Unfortunately, such a large body of Christians do not know themselves and do not even try to know themselves” (St. Jean-Marie Baptiste Vianney).
Some of us spend much time in prayer and good works, yet we don’t fully develop a peace-filled relationship with God because we still feel anger and despair when things don’t go our way. When we are still sometimes choosing the noise of the world over God, it offends Him and pushes away His love, which is the grace we need to banish all anger and despair and any unloving characteristic or behavior we might have. God wants us to love Him in all we do, and every time we don’t we are rejecting Him and lose the grace we could have had to develop a life of perfect peace.
Do we literally do everything we do for the love of God? This takes conscience effort. If we take a good look at all of our thoughts, words, and deeds, and ask ourselves, “are all of those things really holy?” then we’ll begin to find our faults—where we are failing to love God. The Bible says, “Be holy [without sin] yourselves in every aspect of your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15).” Are we truly trying to obey God in all circumstances or just some of the times? I mean really, would Jesus or the saints, who are only concerned about saving souls and serving God, who were given to us as examples to follow to Heaven, would they spend their precious time doing any of those useless things we indulge in to satisfy our desires, that merit nothing, unless it was absolutely necessary for them to serve God? Of course not. And if they had to participate in any worldly pleasure, their heart would be longing for God, longing for the cross, not truly enjoying anything of this world because those things would be pulling their heart away from their true love—God.
We need to ask ourselves if the useless ways we spend our time are the same choices Jesus or any of the saints would make. If they aren’t, then we need to begin to eliminate them from our lives. The saints would never participate in anything which would detract them or pull their hearts away from God so we shouldn’t either. We must follow their examples, and deem anything that doesn’t work toward the salvation of our souls as fruitless, and something that keeps us from that saving faith we need to truly find God. Do our worldly choices help us to obtain true peace and eternal life or are they just a temporary fix for the desires of our heart? Those worldly distractions only push us further away from God, quickly filling up the void in our hearts that is meant to be filled by God and God alone. This we need to change.
“Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
We need the Father’s love in us to be saved. So then why do we crave the things of this world? Why are we drawn to them when they oppose God and His will for us? It’s because of our sinful nature and because we have become addicted to the noise and not to God. Everything we desire is found in God alone. Yet, we obviously don’t believe that since we don’t work to end those addictions in order to find God and His perfectly fulfilling love for us. We continue to fill ourselves with the pleasures of this world, allowing the devil to drive our thoughts, words, and deeds. This is so hurtful to God, and only temporarily satisfies us, leaving us craving more and more but never leading us to crave God. We let these worldly desires drag us away from God and the perfect fulfillment that only He can give.
We don’t want to give up all the gossip, idle chatter, going to bars, smoking, etc., filling ourselves up with the pleasures of this world—we feel we can’t get enough of those things. We want the night clubs, the dancing, the parties, the drinking, shopping until we drop, getting our nails done, all of those frivolous things. We want our “fun.” What we don’t want is God or His way to true joy, which is only accomplished through sacrifice and the cross. We think, “Yikes, who wants to suffer?” We want the finer things in life and run as fast as we can from anything that even resembles suffering. Going to church, working hard to come to know, love, and serve God sounds like a horrible bore to so many of us. “Where’s the fun in that?” we ask. However, we need to not only love God with our words, but most importantly, with our actions from our desire to suffer for the love of Him. Sure finding a true faith in God will be real hard at first, from our lack of grace, but with perseverance, from building up of God’s grace, His yoke [God’s will] will become easy, and His burden [commands] will become light.
“Whoever does not take up his cross [suffering] and follow after me [obey me] is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38).
We don’t understand the Word correctly much of the time since we have been taught wrongly for so long and believe life is about the “play” and having a good time, instead of sacrificing one’s life completely to love God alone. We don’t want to “lose this life” (cf. Matthew 16:25). We want to gain it all and have it all. This confusion is from the devil, who doesn’t want us in Heaven. He wants to shroud our minds in darkness so we can’t find God here on Earth. However, we can change our ways. God is waiting for us. But, if we don’t change and if we love one sin (don’t wish to amend any sin), if we love anything of this world (attachments or ourselves) above God, then all will be lost. Yes, one mortal sin rejects everything.
Truly, it can’t be said enough that loving anything over God is idolatry, and rejects the saving grace God gave us through His death and resurrection which we received through baptism. If we want eternal life in Heaven, then we need to learn how to choose God above all—nothing is of greater importance. We need to find God. What do we crave to do with our free time? Do we run to God to be with Him or anything else of this world? We need to open our hearts to know the truth.
“When he decides that some wretched gratification [worldly pleasure] is more desirable than the favor of God. He dishonors God, declaring, by his consent, that a miserable pleasure is preferable to the divine friendship” (St. Alphonsus).
“You must make every effort to free yourselves from even venial sins and follow the greatest possible perfection” (St. Teresa of Avila). To some of us, to live the life of a saint sound just crazy and impossible—but it isn’t. Why do we feel we can’t spend our lives pursuing God and working towards loving Him perfectly? That is why God created us. That is what the saints have done. That is really all a saint is–someone who is willing to work hard to stop hurting God and in the process atoned for their sins.
We can follow the saints and surrender the distractions of this world to stop offending God. Do we love something of this world so much that we can’t part with it, that we can’t give up to walk on the path with the saints? If so, then all is lost. “The message of the cross [rejecting this world and embracing suffering] is foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18). But the message of the saints, who guide us to Christ and lead us to Heaven, will show us the Way. We can follow them with confidence. Even if we don’t understand why they say or do something, we shouldn’t try to prove ourselves right, we should work hard to emulate them; they successfully found heaven and pray for the wisdom to understand.
When our priorities are all wrong, we lack understand of the Way and we reject what is good and mistakenly choose what is bad. We will never learn how to truly love God unless we change. Let’s say a couple is getting married, and they don’t yet know the way to Heaven. The main goal of marriage is supposed to be to sacrifice our will to serve God in each other, and to raise a family together who will come to love and serve God perfectly. But in that couple’s case, they’re getting married because they enjoy each other’s company and love their “play time” together. They don’t realize that “play time” is meant for moments when rest is truly needed (if they haven’t yet developed a relationship with God to where being with Him alone is perfect rest), celebrations, or for children’s enjoyment, for when we mature we are to “put aside childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11), and give over our lives as servants of God.
If one’s marriage is based on “me time,” then they’ve been snared by the devil into a life of selfishness. What happens when the bills come in and they need to work more, or when children come along and they no longer have “me time?” When their play time is over, either their marriage will fail because it stopped being “fun,” or they will end up living dissatisfied lives, or find some other worldly pleasure to satisfy their needs because they didn’t have a marriage based on God’s plan for their lives. For many we have simply forgotten why we are alive—to know, love and serve God, for His honor and glory and the salvation of our souls. We have been convinced life is to have “fun” according to the world’s definition of “fun.” This couple wasn’t ready to literally sacrifice all for the love of God which if they did they would have benefited with wonderful peace from God even during all hardships. This wonderful peace is even possible for someone in a marriage in which only one person is willing to live their marriage according to God’s plan. However, for this couple they both were not loving the crosses in their lives, and sadly missed out on the countless gifts from God He gives to those who sacrifice for Him, and they missed out on the wonderful relationship with God He had waiting for them.
Their marriage was based on the devil’s pleasures. When a marriage is satisfied mainly through worldly pleasures, then a saving faith will not be found together, and the couple will not be truly happy. They won’t be living to serve God, relying on God and His grace to satisfy their needs or embracing their cross and living to serve Christ who dwells in each other—expecting nothing in return, which is what marriage is all about. Instead they will be stuck in the devils trap thinking their spouse is supposed to satisfy their needs by making “play,” and seeking equality or control and by having all sorts of worldly demands and dreams to hopefully fulfill their needs. Yet a marriage is meant to give love, unconditionally, not take it, to serve, not to be served, all for the love of God as they learn how to properly love Christ in each other and every cross along the way. Boy, has the devil got most of us confused!
“To love God with your whole heart it is required that nothing attract our heart more than God attracts it. You must not take more pleasure in the things of earth than in God” (St. John Chrystostom).
When we first find God, and want to convert our lives to a saving faith, our conversion needs to be gradual. We need a firm foundation of faith and knowledge of how to keep it, in order to not fall in whatever direction the wind blows when we are tried through temptations. If we jump into attempting perfection too quickly without really knowing what we’re doing, without strong roots—then once a decent-sized temptation comes along—we will fall, and most likely fall hard, from a lack of foundational grace. Developing a saving faith, a faith in which we truly love God above the world, won’t happen instantly. We have to open our hearts and give it time to receive enough grace to do so, because without God’s mercy it just won’t happen. Its like training for the Olympics…nobody can win without hard work and building up the skill and stamina to be strong against the devil and all of His schemes.
When we don’t yet have a strong relationship with God, we will still need that “play time” as to not become discouraged on our journey toward a saving faith. We need to understand that little by little we need to move away from our “play time” and gravitate toward a life given completely over to God. We must desire to become a saint, who is someone who doesn’t want to offend God at all, not with one sin, and to give our lives to serve Him perfectly, since we are all “called to be saints” (1 Corinthians 1:2).
As our love for God grows, by slowly removing the distractions (noise)–attachments (things we love)–and stopping the sins we commit, our knowledge of God and His will for us will increase. Our prayer time will cease to be a burden, and will become our greatest joy; our relationship with God will begin to blossom as we remove more and more of our sins. We’ll start to serve God and serve Him well. There is only one path to Heaven (truly loving God), with many ways to get there. God has a different plan for each of us on how to obtain it. If we change our lives, little by little we will eventually only want God and nothing else that would keep us away from Him.
When we truly love God, we find that our true enjoyment in life comes from pleasing God, through the cross. After we surrender our will and set out to perfectly love God, and when we begin to trust that the cross is the way to Christ, God will reward our souls with His incredible peace—especially during times of suffering. Once we start to feel peace in times of trouble, we will know we are on the right path. When we start denying ourselves of worldly pleasures and our will, emptying them from our souls, trusting in God and His plan for our lives, then God will fill our souls with His love and much grace. Then we’ll be more and more enveloped with joy and peace with the further away we get from our sins. All of the worldly pleasures, and sins we used to love will lose their enticements, and we will crave God and God alone, trusting in Him perfectly. This needs to be our goal.
Then we will know and fully believe that “Whoever wishes to come after me [to go to Heaven] must deny himself [avoid worldly pleasure], take up his cross [love the cross], and follow me [obey God]” (Mark 8:34). However, if we reject the cross by complaining and doing all we can to rid ourselves of it—wanting the easy life and the instant gratification of the devil’s pleasures instead of the amazing love and peace that only comes from God—we miss out on God’s love and the wonderful graces He sends through us through our obedience to Him. Yet when we truly follow Him—cross and all—sacrificing the things of this world (the noise) to strive to perfectly love and obey Him, we will obtain that perfect earthly and eternal peace which only He can provide.
Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with going out with friends to serve God, or if rest is needed, and enjoying ourselves when we’re with them. Yet, if we seek going out with them instead of serving God or what we do with them isn’t pleasing God, then they are keeping us from knowing God and living for Him alone—then they are a distraction from the life God has called us to live, and they help us to wound Our Lord instead of bless Him. If we’re thinking about when we can get together again to have fun or day dreaming about all the fun we had, and that fills up our mind and distracts us from contemplating God and His will for us, there is something wrong there. If these distractions are occurring in our lives, they should be a red flag that we aren’t on the right path, and we need to work toward removing these distractions and placing God and serving Him as our priority. Our friends and our “fun” times can be the death of us, as it can easily keep us from obtaining a true love for God because we were attached to worldly pleasures instead of Our Lord. We must desire to love God with ALL of our heart—not just part of it—then God will satisfy our every desire.
“Despise this world. Oh World…I will no longer set my heart on you. My dear friends, my dear relations, let me no longer love you except with a holy friendship…Yes, at the moment all the pleasure, frivolity, worldly joy, and useless affection will appear before you [us]…Ah, my wretched soul, for what toys and idle fancies have I offended God! You [We] will have forsaken Him for nothing at all.” (St. Francis De Sales).
We need to look deep inside ourselves to see where we are going wrong. What do we love over God? Do we love our spouse or children more than we love Him? Many of us place our families first. We are convinced it’s the right and good thing to do, yet the devil has confused us, since that love is not driven from a selfless love—a love to serve Christ who dwells within our family members—but instead much of the time it’s driven from either obligation or a longing for their love and affection to be returned, which makes our intentions for doing good no greater than that of an atheist. But Our Lord said, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37-38). We need to love God above all, and focus on loving Him who lives in every member of our families. We must forgive their imperfections, live to serve them no matter how we are treated in return, love the cross and learn how to be like Christ—this is what a Christian truly is.
When we look at our day, do we schedule time for dedicated prayer, making Our Lord our top priority? Are we trying to do everything for the love of Him? Are we willing to wake up early to ensure God is first and foremost on our minds? Or do we love our pillow more? Throughout the day do we stop what we’re doing to pray here and there in order to stay untied with God, or do we only stop working to eat and check our phones? What do we love? If we love God and see knowing and loving Him as a necessity, we will find the time for Him. Truly, we prove what we love and desire the most through our actions because our thoughts can easily deceive us. Coming to know God isn’t easy but we have to do this—our eternity depends on it. God wants us to know Him—He’s longing for us. He created us to be with Him, but if we continue to reject Him and love ourselves or the world more, we crush His heart and loose Him forever.
If we start to pray, I mean dedicate time to pray, even if it is hard, and continue anyway knowing it is essential, then in time, when we remove the obstacles and work to stop our sins, our prayer life will become effortless. It is the distractions that most of the time make prayer hard. We need to ask ourselves, what is it that we do with our day? Where are our hours going? Who and what do we think of most throughout the day? What are our real desires? How much of it is spent loving God? Is He really first in every aspect of our lives? We can’t deceive ourselves into thinking we love God above all, if we don’t serve God in all that we do. Remember, the devil wants to blind us to who we really are so we can’t repent and change. Don’t be deceived.
This is serious, as our eternal life depends upon us coming to know ourselves. There are so many things we love over God, and most of them we are still blind to especially if we have not even begun to amend our ways and desire perfection by seeking to stop offending God by our sins. Enlightenment comes mostly from our desire to know our offenses, so we can amend them. Our eternal life depends on us coming to know ourselves so we can banish mortal sin we are blind to from our lives. But it is our sins, themselves, that conceal our intentions so we cannot even recognize our offenses and therefore we can’t amend them. Even though if we have a true desire to change that alone will allow some grace into our souls so we can see some of our offences. However, we need to work to remove the blinders, the distractions, so we can begin to know and see ourselves in a greater way. We must desire to know our faults, for only the humble (those who know their sinfulness) will know God. We must remove the noise to be able to hear and look into our actions correctly, which will prove what we truly love. Only then can we go to God for the strength we need to stop sinning, and live our lives for Him. Lying to ourselves, trying to tell ourselves that we really love God above all—when God who reads our hearts knows differently—won’t save us. We need to honestly gain self-knowledge, and seek out the grace we need to truly love God, if we intend to find Him now or at the hour of our death. Otherwise, we won’t recognize His mercy He sends us because we will unknowingly reject it and chose our sin instead of Him.
“Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
Beware, the devil’s traps are everywhere and most of us can’t even see them. But just remember, God is in the silence and He wants to help us to see. Outside of removing serious mortal sin and desiring to sin no more, the removal of attachments is the first step toward truly knowing God. We must do this, as even our prayers are blocked when we’re attached to this world.
We can be in a noisy place, but if our minds are free of the distractions of this world, we are in the silence. We are in peace. Our minds can also become ensnared in the devil’s traps by filling our heads with so much chatter—chatter which is devastatingly distracting. We become attached to our own thoughts of negativity, and they can become a horrible vehicle of self-pity and self-distruction. Our minds are always thinking, but most of us have made a habit out of thinking about everything but God. Yet contemplation with God is where we will find peace.
Unfortunately, we tend to talk to ourselves and dwell on what we should say or have said. We dwell on things from the past, pulling up bad memories and embarrassing moments that drown us in self-pity. We have not been taught to embrace humiliations and mistreatments from others as tools to humble us to God’s will. Suffering humiliation and wrongful treatment is what people run from, but they are treasures from God. Oh, what joy it is to unite with Christ and all of the humiliations and mistreatments He endured as He hung naked and abused on the cross. Most of us never think to use these events to ask God to teach us how we can learn to love Him more perfectly, and we end up missing out on His valuable lessons and spiritual growth God had in store for us. We want to flee from humiliation and pain, instead of embracing them and offering them up to God to console Him for all of the constant abuse He still receives from us, his most ungrateful creatures. Most of the time we simply become angry, complain, worry, or end up filled with anxiety or an unholy self-hate when become embarrassed or are abused. When this happens, we are far removed from His peace. We need to let go of our own will and embrace what ever God allows as the way to Christ. Trusting He will make everything, good, when He wills, how He wills.
Why do we fret? Do we not have faith enough to believe that whatever happens to us is allowed by God in order to draw us closer to Him? Don’t we trust Him? We can learn so much from our mistakes and the sins of others. We can learn how to become like Christ—patient, loving, and kind in all circumstances—but we must trust in Him to teach and show us the way..
“Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble” (Psalm 119:165).
Regrettably, many of us choose the noise in our minds instead of surrendering to God’s will and working to love and obey Him. Some of us have even been dragged into the trap of filling our minds with complaints, worries, anxieties, and desiring things our way to such a degree that we have no peace, no patience, no stillness in our minds, and no room for God. We don’t understand that the cause of our sadness, but it is our desire to be in control, instead of letting God be in control. Our pride has consumed us. As a result, we can’t find God because our sins have pushed Him away, along with the perfect peace and grace He offers.
Some of us surrender somewhat to God, but few of us will surrender their all to love Him. God deserves all of our love, and He greatly desires for us to love Him with all of our hearts. He has an infinite amount of love to give us, but we reject it as we just can’t let go and focus on God because we are blinded by sin. Yet all we desire, every consolation, every gratification, all the love we yearn for, is found in having true faith in Jesus. From His grace, we can learn how to reject every kind of idolatry. For this to happen, we must repent and CHANGE, and choose to live for God alone by imploring His mercy and help, as we remove one attachment at a time, one sin at a time, until we only desire God with ALL of our hearts.
We can’t expect to be lazy and achieve anything. This will take hard work, as sin has become part of who we are. To remove our attachments, we have to decide we no longer want to offend God. We need to decide to literally stop sinning and work toward no longer hurting God through our sinfulness. The Bible teaches us how to do this, so we need read God’s Word every day with the intention of living it. Then we must look to our most serious sins first and remove them, as they wound Jesus’ Sacred Heart the most and push away His love and help in our lives the greatest. To understand more fully the grave sins, the following website lists them for our review: http://www.sacramentofreconciliation.com/mortal-sins-listed-in-bible/
Some sins will take more time than others to remove—mainly habitual sins—and in removing those, we will also be able to detach ourselves from less stubborn sins as we progress toward perfection. After removing obvious mortal sins—like the ones listed in the Bible—we then need to work on getting rid of venial sins, starting with the ones we love (don’t want to stop committing), because if we love even one venial sin that is idolatry too. Of course, we can’t love any sin and truly love God. Striving to “sin no more” needs to be our goal. And this we must work hard to achieve, and rely on God’s infinite help and mercy to bring us there, as “the majority of men shall not see God” (St. Justin Martyr).
“Sin generically venial becomes mortal,” when someone “fix[es] one’s end in that venial sin [has no desire to amend]” (St. Aquinas).
As an example, let’s say we love shopping for clothes and would choose that over prayer and donating our money to the needy any day. If that’s the case, then we need to lessen our wardrobe shopping little by little, and stop being obsessed with fashion. If we rid ourselves of attachments and open ourselves up to God instead, we can receive so much grace. The grace we need to hate all sins and embrace saving grace. Self-denial is very profiting. Some people can open up their souls so much that they can receive great grace. They can abandon shopping and all of their clothes instantly once they hear God calling them to change, but for most, we limit our soul’s ability to receive grace, because of our attachments to sin and lack of true sorrow for them, so we need time to build up enough grace for the discipline necessary to reject the temptations of this world especially if it is something we have a great passion for. We need time to build up enough grace to reject the temptations of this world properly, as to not fall back into the same sins once again when trials present themselves. For most, to get rid of our clothing obsession, we wouldn’t want to just go to our closet and remove everything all at once. However, if we started small by maybe only getting rid of the clothes that show off our figure and keep us from being modest—which is rooted from sexual immorality—then that’s a great start.
“More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh [because they refuse to completely abandon their desire for it] than for any other reason” (Our Lady of Fatima).
Sexual immorality is deadly, and we need to work towards banishing that first since it can be quite habitual and hard to remove. For most of us, it takes a lot of time to stop wanting to be attractive to others—especially if we’ve been burdened with that desire for a long time. Then, we must work our way, bit by bit, and implore God’s grace to help us decide what we do need. God will help us so we can choose to love Him and only Him, as opposed to looking lovingly into our closet adoring our clothes. God can more than replace that high we feel from buying new things with the amazing peace that comes from loving Him alone. Then we need to move on and do this with all of our other attachments—one thing at a time—that we love; our TV, the internet, delicious food, and whatever it might be. If we go at it one step at a time, we’ll remove all of those cravings so we may desire God above all.
What sense is it to have anything, to be comforted, relaxed or satisfied by anything, if it’s going to keep us from eternal life? “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36). If we go at this a little bit at a time, then soon we won’t love the things we used to once relish and we will abandon them for God, which are nothing in comparison to Him. We might still be tempted to indulge in them, but we’ll rejoice when we reject them to love God. And if we fall and run to them, we will delight in God’s grace He sends to those who hate their sins are seeking to sin no more. Eventually—once we truly love God and realize how these attachments were keeping us from Him—we will even acquire a disdain for them, as we come to learn how much they were hurting Our Beloved God.
“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”…“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:25).
Please understand, if we haven’t been honestly trying to love Him—by working hard to remove all our sins, attachments and seeking our will—we can’t tell God we’re sorry, hoping for His mercy, if we aren’t truly sorry. How can anyone be truly sorry they are sinning, if they aren’t truly trying to not sin. That is false sorrow which rejects God’s saving mercy because we still love our sins and don’t really wish to stop hurting God by them. However, if we convert enough in our faith to gain true sorrow, from our desire and efforts to work to remove, self-love, self-will, and self-interest at the moment of our confession, from our real hate for our sins and a sincere desire to not commit them, but we don’t have the grace to continue that true contrition (sorrow) throughout our day, and our hearts still turn right around and want those sins we say we hate, them again, from our love for our sins, we fall outside of grace again the moment we adore what we should hate.
“Each on must realize that he will make progress in all spiritual matters [towards salvation] in proportion to his flight from self-love, self-will, and self-interest” (St. Ignatius of Loyola).
If we have been blessed in our faith to where we have grown enough to truly love God, we won’t want to offend our Creator in any way—not even with one venial sin—and we will work hard, to stop sinning in all aspects of our lives and as a result we will be TRULY sorry when we do sin. We will honestly, as St. Teresa says rather, “die a thousand deaths” than commit a single offense against Our Lord. To obtain this kind of contrition that can continue throughout one’s day, and retain saving grace, which can’t bear to offend their Creator is from God’s continuous grace that is given to a heart that has been crushed when it finally became humbled into recognizing its misery and the true consequence of sin. Yet, to come to develop this kind of humility and sorrow isn’t effortless, and we need to rely on God’s mercy to bring us to come to self-knowledge so we can completely hate all of our sins and love Him above all–obtain perfect contrition. Remember God died for us, for our salvation, and give us the Word to guide us towards a faith that can accept His saving mercy so He will give us all the help we need when we ask Him with a sincere heart, but we must be willing to make it happen–be willing to carry our cross as to obtain this kind of sorrow as it takes much discipline since the devil is always trying to pull us towards self-love.
“Among the penitent’s acts [the person confessing their sins] contrition [sorrow] occupies first place [since it is needed for salvation]. Contrition is “sorrow of the soul and detestation [hate] for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again [to become a saint]” (CCC #1451).
We must run to God for His grace and help to move ourselves towards a saving faith especially in the sacrament of reconciliation since God dispenses His grace greatly in that sacrament to help us remove sin, as long as we truly hate at least one sin. God love us so much. Even if we reject His saving grace, He doesn’t abandon us. If someone doesn’t hate all of their sins with perfect or imperfect contrition, their sins won’t be forgiven, but if there is a real detestation for at least one sin–either from fear of going to hell from that sin (imperfect contrition) or from regret for offending God whom we should love (perfect contrition), then God will send actual grace (help) in different quantities based on the amount of sorrow we have in order to help move our soul to obtain true sorrow for ALL of our offenses against Him so we can obtain saving grace. To read about the enormity of graces available from the sacrament visit www.SacramentofRecoiciliation.com/grace-2
“The soul that is determined to strive for sanctity…[will] benefit [be forgiven] from confession” (St. Faustina, Diary #113).
For those who desire to become a saint and have grown enough in their faith and obtained the grace to receive perfect or imperfect contrition for all of their sins at the time of confession, their souls will be restored to the saving grace, that they received at baptism, but of course once they fall into sin and love themselves, things of this world, or any sin over God or commit some other moral sin that grace will be lost again, sometimes even immediately after their soul has been restored because their contrition isn’t consistent. But at least the forgiveness and amazing transforming grace was received and eventually, with the continuing help of God’s sacraments and all of the means God helps us with much actual grace, such as from the Holy Eucharist, we will obtain enough wonderful actual grace which will allow God to move our souls to a saving faith that embraces His saving mercy continuously and maybe even restores it to perfection (not sinning).
“For those who desire Eternal Life, a pure love… is necessary, for it is not enough for eternal life to fly sin from fear of punishment [imperfect contrition], or to embrace virtue from the motive of one’s own advantage. Sin should be abandoned because it is displeasing to Me, and virtue should be loved for My sake [we must love God above ourselves]” (God the Father to St. Catherine of Sienna).
On another important note, for someone to receive communion they must have confessed their serious mortal sins with having true sorrow to a priest: sincerely hating them and wanting to never commit them again, meaning they are willing to do what is necessary to see the sin ends, and they must desire to become perfect–to sin no more. However, if someone recomits their serious mortal sin again after confession but before Communion, receiving God’s body would damage theri soul and harm Our Lord, because serious mortal is in horrobly damaging to God and our tabernacle.
But for those who have abolished their serious mortal sins from their life, they still MUST desire to not offend God by any sin; they sincerely desire to become a saint. This desire can be little or great but it must exist…someone must be working towards this goal for someone to benefit from Communion since still wanting to continue to offend God, to not strive for perfection, to not resolve to sin no more, is a very grave sin. We must have no desire to harm God from the smallest sin to the largest to have enough sorrow to receive Communion. However, the various forms of idolatry: love of things of this world, love of self will, love of a venial sin, all reject saving grace…however, after someone removes their serious mortal sins, much of the time these forms of idolatry are not considered the mortal sins that prevent a soul from partaking in Communion.
Let me explain. For someone to advance so much spiritually to where they don’t still love something of this world, like ones rest, or still crave a venial sin, like looking attractive-vanity, or continue to be scared at a potential painful cross, like desiring one’s will not to suffer, over God’s, yes, to remove all of those things we still crave, that we choose over God, takes much grace and spiritual growth. Since God gave His Body for this very reason to help us remove our sins, and to bring us to a saving faith, for many of the sins of idolatry, as long as the soul is truly sorry he commits them–sincerely hates them and desires to never commit them again–at the moment he is to receive the Holy Eucharist, then he will benefit from God’s body and it won’t harm Our Lord, even if he is still blind to many sins he loves. But for everyone else, even if they went to confession a moment before Mass, if they didn’t desire to stop offending God–aren’t willing to work towards becoming a saint–they rejected God’s forgiveness, and His actual grace. Then the Blessed Sacrament will bring condemnation (punishment, not grace) and scourge Our Lord from being received into a tabernacle of someone who doesn’t truly desire to love Him with their whole heart.
“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread [body] or drinks the cup of the Lord [the Blood] in an unworthy manner [without true sorrow for their sins] will be answerable for [harming] the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:27).
We know this to be true because Jesus allowed His apostles during the last supper, except for Judas who was in great mortal sin from his desire to betray Jesus, to partake in the Divine Sacrifice. And we know Peter still loved himself over God since he denied Jesus three times, and we know that was from His blinding pride because he refused to even believe God Himself when He told him he didn’t have a saving faith. But we also know Peter most likely, truly desired to love God with all of His heart…he was probably simply still blind to the sins he loved. Yet, Peter was worthy of receiving God’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, from the desires of his heart, and received the blessings that came forth from God’s sacrifice of love and was enlightened to his true misery.
“You participate in My strength and power [in Communion], which strengthen the soul against her sensual self-love, against the Devil, and against the world…The Abyss of My loving desire for your salvation has [been] given [to] you…coming to the help of your needs, the sweet Truth as Food in this life” (God the Father to St. Catherine of Sienna).
Therefore, if we go to Mass and don’t really feel convicted that day to work hard to become a saint because it is hard work to always stay vigilant and the devil can cause us to lean more towards being selfish and lazy, communion shouldn’t be consumed. Or, if we don’t wish to work towards riding the temptations from our life which cause us to sin, and denying ourselves of worldly pleasures so as to seek the greatest way we can love and serve God perfectly, then we should forgo receiving Communion until our desire to work towards uniting our will with God’s is true.
After we open up our soul more fully with the help of all of God’s grace from the sacraments, devotions, prayer, fasting and works of mercy, etc., we will be able to receive and retain our saving grace from obtaining a true saving faith–a true hatred for all sin from our great love for God. To read more on this subject read the book “Eternal Life: why so few accept God’s saving mercy.”
“Your love must be sincere. Detest what is evil, cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9).
If we truly desire eternal life we must repent with true sorrow by sincerely desiring to love God above all. We need to live for His will alone, honestly hating all of our sins, and wholeheartedly working to rid them from our life. Then no matter how many times we fall into sin, God will restore our sorrowful souls to a state of grace since Our Lord is so mercyful. All He desires of us is a truly contrite heart. Yet, the saints toiled their entire lives in hopes of obtaining such sorrow, because they understand our minds are so deceptive, so never presumed anything. We need to just do our best and with faith, trust in God for the rest.
“Take away perseverance and nothing remains [because once we stop trying we will surly fall]. For the fulfillment of duty [living God’s will], the performance of good deeds, and the exercise of fortitude [courage] will not produce the grace sufficient to obtain eternal praise [only God’s sanctifying grace to the end will]” (St. Bernard).
With great excitement God is waiting to transform us, through His great mercy, into a “new creation” as we once were at our baptism. He will give us a wonderful life, full of real peace and hope for eternal life, if it is our constant working desire to not offend Him through desiring true faith in Him. We will know this is happening by the consistent CHANGE that takes place within us. We won’t continue to be the same people we were—those people with sinful personalities, full of complaints, inpatience, and worries. All of our sins will begin to leave us, one at a time, and they will continue to leave us. We will be working towards perfect peace and love of God. We will no longer be stale, with same unloving characteristics, from our lukewarm hearts and lack of efforts to stop offending God. Yes, we will still have ups and downs as God tries to mold us into His image, but we will grow stronger in our faith and realize that whatever happens He will use it for our good if we let Him. Then after following Christ correctly in time, we will become like Christ from our strong continuous desire to love God perfectly. We must have complete trust in Him to bring us to Heaven through our crosses.
We might not ever become perfect, even though it is possible “for with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
However, as long as we try to surrender our entire lives to live for God alone, strive the best we can toward perfection—to not sin and become a saint—and finally come to possess true sorrow when we do hurt Our Lord’s Sacred Heart by our failure to love Him above all things—we won’t reject God’s sanctifying grace (His saving mercy) because we will truly want it, as opposed to wanting our sins. We will have the peace and eternal life we hope for, from God’s unfathomable mercy. Then we will have rejected the noise and have found God.
“A contrite [truly sorrowful], humbled [knows ones sinfulness] heart, O God, you will not scorn” (Psalm 51:19).