Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Struggle

It's been a rough year for us. Perhaps no more, nor no less than any other year, but for some reason the physical struggles this year seems exceptionally intense: more demands on time, decreasing budget, facing probable infertility, confronting neurological issues in my son, but the worst is coming face to face with who I truly am. It shouldn't be surprising. In reflecting upon this, I decided to examine what the catechism had to say. I found very encouraging words.

1839 The moral virtues grow through education, deliberate acts, and perseverance in struggle. Divine grace purifies and elevates them.

409 ...The whole of man's history has been the story of dour combat with the powers of evil, stretching, so our Lord tells us, from the very dawn of history until the last day. Finding himself in the midst of the battlefield man has to struggle to do what is right, and it is at great cost to himself, and aided by God's grace, that he succeeds in achieving his own inner integrity.

1426 Conversion to Christ, the new birth of Baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the Body and Blood of Christ received as food have made us "holy and without blemish," just as the Church herself, the Bride of Christ, is "holy and without blemish." Nevertheless the new life received in Christian initiation has not abolished the frailty and weakness of human nature, nor the inclination to sin that tradition calls concupiscence, which remains in teh baptized such that with the help of the grace of Christ they may prove themselves in the struggle of Christian life. This is the struggle of conversion directed toward holiness and eternal life to which the Lord never ceases to call us.

It is through God's Grace alone that I have clutched the virtues of Faith and Hope so strongly. I hope, likewise that I have increased in Charity as well, though for me that seems harder to measure. And that thought itself is how I believe I realized what this is all about. Life seems harder because I've made progress. Numerous little sins are becoming fewer in number, and the Holy Spirit is now causing me to re-examine myself and identify the sins that have taken deeper root, that for some reason I just haven't noticed yet...or prefer to ignore.

Every year at just about this time, we engage in a struggle against garden weeds. The dandelions are sprouting and now is the perfect time to start excising them before the roots grow too deep. For me, though, I tend to ignore them until I have a desire to plant that space with something more appealing. Then, that's when the struggle ensues. It's never enough to just pluck out the part of the weed that's visible above the surface. Everyone knows that they'll just come back. In order to really get them, you have to pull them from the root. Ever try to pull one of those gigantic dandelions all the way to the root? You have to glove your hands to protect them from the thorns; no these things won't give an inch. They fight you every step of the way, striking back so they'll be left alone to spread their kind. Eventually, as you tug, you realize you'll have to dig deeper, even disturb fertile soil around the weed so you can expose the root. This weeding takes a lot of work. I've even pulled so hard that force puts me down on my backside.

Well, that is now the sort of battle I'm beginning to engage. Christ has me where He wants me finally, in the bosom of His Church. And now we are beginning to attack the deeply rooted weeds. This isn't fun. It's painful! I'd rather not face these realities about myself. All my life I've been generally seen as "good", called "goody two shoes" more than once. My husband thinks it's humorous when I succumb to certain sins on occasion, because it seems so idiosyncratic, and makes him feel a little better that I'm human too. So, I suppose I've been well trained to bury my sins and put on a pleasant face. But, burying the sins does not please God. He will not be satisfied until the are uprooted entirely. And frankly, I'm not satisfied, either, because my whole purpose in life is to please God.

Thank goodness I'm not in this alone. I'd give up for despair. And there we find the reason for the virtue of Hope:
1821 ...Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.

With Hope, I can also face this truth: 1707 ...Man is divided in himself. As a result, the whole life of men, both individual and social, shows itself to be a struggle, and a dramatic one, between good and evil, between light and darkness.

There's really no visible end in sight to the struggle. As one battle is one, another ensues. I suppose this is the answer to my prayers, that God will grant me to suffer in this life what I truly deserve in the next. Thank goodness I have Him to rely on.


At 5:03 PM, Blogger st_ignatius110 said...

I have been going through much of the same "uprooting" myself. And through it all..the heartache...the pain..the difficulty, God's grace has indeed been abundant and very noticible.

I go to confession every single Saturday and sometimes I feel so stupid confessing the same sin over and over again! But eventually I began to realize something. For example, I used to cuss really bad. After I started going to confession I was confessing this every week..and pretty soon I was still confessing it..but I could actually name the times I cussed...and it has been getting better and better every week.

Fr. Paul told me in confession the other day," Do not despair when you fall. The Evil One will try to make you think when you fall that you might as well not try anymore. That is what he wants you to do...give up."

These words are so very true. So, no matter how often we fall, no matter our failures...let us continue to dig deep for the root of our sin and let us destroy it using God's grace given to us in His most Holy Sacraments. Let us also remember to pray daily that God keeps us free from the stain of sin.

At 5:10 PM, Blogger BekahS. said...

Thank you, Iggy! I really needed to hear that. I've been meaning to start going to Confession more frequently. Our confession time was changed from 10 am Sat to 3pm, and it seems like it's made it nearly impossible from me to get there, unless I set an alarm. Time on Saturday's just seems to slip away so fast. I think I will make a priority to start attending weekly.

At 5:28 PM, Blogger st_ignatius110 said...

I understand about all of that...and I only have one little one! I cannot imagine with four of them trying to get up on time. Even go at least 2 times a month if you can. It is just that we cannot fight sin on our own. We have to receive God's grace to make it. I know people who are's only venial..that can get forgiven in Mass..and they are right. But, the point is...we don't want to keep on sinning..we want to sin as little as, confess even the smallest sins to the priest..he will be your mentor and guide to weed out these matter how small they all have deep roots.
Well, unless it is like the priest I confessed to the other day...I was confessing...and he was popping his knuckles! And then whenI finished he did not even talk to me..just absolved me. Don't get me wrong, it is great to be absolved, but how am I supposed to go and sin no more without guidance?


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