Saturday, April 12, 2014

Simple Confessional Advice

I went to confession today and confessed that I have a hard time trusting God, and I doubt whether I can turn to Him for strength and consolation amidst my daily stress and pain. The priest gave me a lot of existential baloney, saying things like, "Continue in your search for meaning. Continue in your search for God," and something about my doubts being a sign of something good. I couldn't really comprehend what he was saying, and I'm used to reading dense material.

Later, I opened the book that I have been reading for spiritual reading, Fr. Victorino Osende's Fruits of Contemplation, and came across this passage:
It is possible to be of good will and yet feel the greatest rebellion against the idea of belonging wholly to God. A person's good will and sincerity are demonstrated in the firmness with which he maintains his resolution in spite of the combats and resistances he may experience. [...] 
It must be noted that the goodness and sanctity of man reside basically in the will and in the struggle for sanctity a man always retains power over his will—his intense, absolute, and sincere desire to be good. That is why, first and above all, God asks of man his heart, his will, his absolute and sincere desire. But often a man's actions and even his interior natural dispositions are not in his power fully to control. God sees this and does not demand it of him. However, He does demand that when He shall grant a soul this power, he should be grateful and correspond with divine grace to the fullest extent of his capacity. [...]

What matter the numerous falls through human frailty or the arduous battles and conflicts we may experience? What matter if we do not even feel the desire to be good and holy or experience no attraction for God? Of far greater importance than sentiment or feeling is the sincere will which is manifested by our constancy and perseverance in the midst of spiritual dryness and bitterness. It does not matter if by nature we should be inclined to the worst evil and should experience difficulty only in doing good, for what we lack we can ask for and it will be given us. 
If we lack good will, let us ask for it; if we have no desire for God or for things spiritual, let us ask for it; if we are blind and torpid in regard to things spiritual, let us beg God to awaken, illumine, and vivify us. He who infused life and intelligence into the dust of the earth can also illumine that intelligence and give new life to the heart. All our failure and disappointment in the way of sanctity are due to the fact that we do not desire it enough. From the very fact that God gives all to him who asks, and sanctity more readily than anything else, it follows that if there are few saints it is because few really want to be such. [...] 
Do not fear anything; let nothing terrify or frighten you; do not be afraid of the sacrifices or the aridities of the spiritual life; do not fear obscurities or darkness or fluctuation, still less any danger. If God is with you, who is against you (Rom. 8:31)? He will guide and conduct you across all the chasms with greater security than over firm rock. Fear nothing and let yourself be carried in His arms without knowing whither or how; for "in order to arrive at that which thou knowest not, thou must go by a way that thou knowest not" (Ascent of Mount Carmel, 1.13). Do you wish to know more than God? Let yourself be guided without the least resistance and ask nothing. Do you not know that it is God who is leading you? Do not, then, do Him the injury of distrusting or doubting Him, for that is the greatest injury a child can inflict upon so loving a Father. 
On the other hand, if you are a person of ill-will, that is, if your will is vitiated and distorted; if you worship other gods, other idols in your heart; if you seek yourself; if you desire your own glory, your own ambitions and satisfactions outside of God and do not wish to renounce them but prefer them to God; if you do not even dare to ask God sincerely and whole-heartedly to deliver you from such slavery and tyranny, but on the contrary, you desire to be subject to them because their yoke seems to you sweeter than that of Christ; in short, if you do not wish to conquer and renounce yourself for His love, then the peace of Christ will never be yours and you can expect nothing but constant misery. [...] 
Oh precious soul, if up to now you have hesitated to give yourself completely to God, resolve upon it once and for all! Forget self; detach yourself from all things for the sake of God. And if you know not how or do not have the strength to do so, ask God to help you; ask Him constantly, persistently, and never weary of this petition. If you make it earnestly, I assure you that God will not be able to resist it, so much does He love those who love Him! He desires so greatly to be loved by souls that if He were to fail to heed you, He would cease to be what He is: Infinite Love. [...] 
It is not enough that man make this consecration of self only once. He must repeat it as many times as is necessary to make it true and effective, until God shows Himself pleased with our good will. The abandonment of self will be all the more efficacious as it is made with a greater spirit of detachment and self-renunciation and a greater desire for union with God. God wants nothing from us but our heart. We need not be perfect in order to give ourselves totally to God; rather, we should do so in order to become perfect, even though this be the last thing to be attained, for the last thing in execution is the first thing in intention. The reason why there are so few saints is because there are few generous hearts who will give themselves totally to love, for nothing is more opposed to love than restraint and niggardliness. (92-96)
Granted, the priest wouldn't have had time to say all of this to me, but he could have at least been as clear. He could have said the essence of what Fr. Osende wrote above. Or could he have? It's not my place to judge this priest's soul (or any soul), but I can judge what he told me and how he said it, and it just confused me. If only there were more priests like Fr. Osende to tell it as it is.

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