How Do I Get Back Up?


#1

Here’s my story…

Im cradle Catholic… come from Sunday Catholic type parents. When I was 17 I started going to daily mass and became very devout. Daily mass will do that to ya!
Anyway, this was my first conversion towards Godly living. Due to this, I even discerned becoming a nun.
A year later I met my husband and a year after that, married him!
During the first part of married life (he was another denom), I fell away from the Catholic teachings - and only went to church every so often.
Few years later I had a baby. God’s grace still in action - when he was a year old, I started another conversion!
I joined a prayer group (rosary) and became a very hard-core Catholic!
During this conversion, people were placed in my life that showed me true Christian Catholic living. I became convicted on many things! Daily prayer, good Catholic readings, devout Catholic friends were the tools for this beautiful conversion!

Well, one thing led to another… my husband converted to the faith and months later we were both professed into the Franciscan Order.

I had such a beautiful prayer life. Morning & night prayers, 3 rosaries a day, only Catholic tv (ewtn), lots of catholic friends (support)… we were examples of Christian Catholics!
I knew my faith, had the prayer life to back up any problem or situation we or anyone else encountered.

This was wonderful -THEN God blessed us with 2 more kids! We needed a bigger house, moved, moved again. Had money from the sales of homes. Worldly pride took over! Spending money became MORE fun then praying. Then I had weightloss surgery and lost a big amount of weight - which added to my ‘pride’. First time in my life I actually ‘looked good’ and enjoyed shopping and wearing fashionable clothes!

Anyway, this is just an example of the sequince of events that led to todays post.

So, here’s the problem…


Ive fallen, and cant get back up! ***
Everything is so dry. Prayers, spiritual reading, even mass. I cant focus to read or pray - so I dont! I dont even try any more. Due to this ‘fallen’ nature, my family has called me a hypocrite, a fake… just a couple of things that come to mind. Even though I feel this way - it hurts to know that others see it.
Crazy, I know.
But they DONT see me struggling to BE right!

I go to Confession, repent - and truly set myself on a NEW journey. Only to see that a day, 2 days, a week later - Im back to the beginning. The change I made isnt long lasting.

No prayer life will do this to you. Big sigh No Godly friends, prayer partners, no daily Mass - all aids in the great fall! Ive even become used to listening to secular music once again!

It took me years to ‘build up’ the gifts and fruits (grace) of a good, holy, convicted Christian Catholic life — so when pondering the love and devotion I ONCE had for my God and faith, I quickly turn to the mind set of, "Why bother. Im just going to fail again.“
OR
"Been there, done that.” and quickly find myself getting bored with the things that once gave me richness and fed my spirit!

At this point in my life, I even feel GUILTY praying…

How sick is that?
I need help, y’all.


#2

You will be in my prayers :). I completely understand what you’re going through. What sounds like your life story is slightly condensed and altered as mine. I am newly married to a wonderful, Catholic man and expecting our first. However, I went through a major conversion (raised Catholic by wonderful, devout parents - but still got into my own trouble and fell away for a while) before I got into college, went to Franciscan U, and just recently graduated. I’ve struggled almost the whole time with dryness. Once I confessed not praying due to dryness in confession and the priest said, “leave the feelings to the newbies.” So, I’ve been working on that :).

What’s helped me is to just start of slow. Baby steps. When I completely immerse myself in nothing but Catholic things (EWTN, books, praying all the time, talking about teachings and whatnot) I tend to overwhlem myself and lose the desire to do any of it after a short time and then just give up. I try to get in five minutes of prayer. My husband and I pray on our way to dropping me off at the train station for work - it’s a five minute drive. Also, praying for others and offering things up for others has really kept me going.

I also commit myself to certain things - such as RCIA, where if I don’t show up, it hurts others. I sought out other Catholics - for us it was a young Catholic couples group. My parents are involved in the Catholic homeschooling group and did even before they started homeschooling my younger siblings.

I read Catholic fiction novels. Sometimes the theology gets really dry for me and I fall asleep, so many times I find something that peaks my interest. Also, just saying “Lord, help me” during the day helps too.

Anyway, I just wanted to say you are not alone in this battle! Ignore the accusations of those who call you a hypocrite. You’re not one. You’re human and will always struggle. If there’s not a struggle, there’s no room for growth! :slight_smile:


#3

Paulah,
You didn’t get to where you are overnight. You can’t expect to get back overnight either! Baby steps…

First, don’t worry about what relatives say…your relationship with God is not about them.

Second, Ask for God’s help…Ask for you heavenly mother’s help too.

Third, feel worthy! You ARE a child of God.

Fourth, Ask your husband to help…little things like saying a rosary before bed or reading the daily readings together when you wake up… It always starts and ends the day right.

It will come back. Spiritual dryness doesn’t last forever, but how long it lasts is up to God and up to you…


#4

I would also like to add that spiritual dryness is not a sign that God is distant, but closer than you think. What were Christ’s words on the Cross? My God, My God why have you forsaken me… which basically tells us the extreme feelings of abandonment that Christ was allowed to experience for our sake and this lead to His final beautiful statement “Into your hands I commend my spirit.” Sometimes the Spirit leads us to the desert like many spiritual saints have experienced… its actually part of the maturation of prayer so do not lose hope as this is an opportunity to be united closer to God. Praying even without feeling the good vibes shows God that you are now seeking solely to please him, not yourself because you continue to remain open to Him even when he does not feel close… sort of like Job or St. Catherine after falling off her horse in the rain reportedly said to God “The way you treat your friends no wonder you have so few.” Frusteration and feelings of abandonment can set in, but its the strength of faith that is being tested. I do not know if you mentioned this but possibly what might help is seeking out a spiritual director because that can have profound effects on guidance and the siants who had the strongest prayer life all had spiritual directors… trying to be your own is like trying to fly without a co-pilot, if something goes wrong with you the prayer plane is bound to crash.
I myself have experienced many of those feelings of spiritual dryness and while I am no expert on prayer at all, I can say that thse things come in ebbs and flows. It is our faith in God, not how he makes us feel, that matters. I say continue to pray in earnest even when you feel dry, seek out a director, and offer the sufferings which unite you to the crucified Lord to God the Father and you too will be able to abandon yourself to the Father like Christ, “Father into your hands I commend my spirit” (make that statement the beginning of your prayer and when you feel lost in prayer just repeat that statement over and over and over). God does not abandon those who knock a million times :thumbsup: .
God bless you and pray for me too!


#5

this is the classic progress of the spiritual life. it is called dryness, and is the natural condition of the mature Christian throughout a greater part of adult life. Please consult the masters of spiritual direction, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Francis de Sales. The best first book that puts this great accumulated wisdom in modern language in a away that we moderns can apply to our lives of Fr. Groeschel’s Spiritual Passages and Journey Toward God. The first describe the natural sequence of growth in spiritual life and the second distills the wisdom of the masters of spiritual guidance.

the solution is the same and the advice is the same:
remain faithful to daily prayer, Mass and the sacraments
conform your actions to the will of Christ expressed in the commandments, beatitudes, spiritual and corporal works of mercy and laws of the church
examine your conscience every night before bed, make a good act of contrition and make a resolution for tomorrow
get rid of things in your life that separate you from God: destructive friends, habits or situations that tempt you to sin (internet, clubs, tv shows, music, occult etc.)
take your spiritual guidance from a trusted confessor or spiritual director, not from the critical remarks of friends and family
evangelize by actions rather than words
do not make major decisions and life changes, either in spiritual practice or in the areas of career, relationships etc. in a period of depression or melancholy.

feelings of “richness” and “being fed” which are based in emotion and sentiment are very poor guides to spiritual progress. the dry period is a necessary element in our growth. learn to love the desert.


#6

This is such a simple gesture, but know that I want it to speak volumes:
THANK YOU.

You 4 people are awesome!

Ive read and pondered over each line on your post. Each one of you have given me such wisdom, strength, encouragement!

I was wondering about a Spiritual Director, wondering IF this would help…

From my heart, I Thank You!


#7

A good spiritual director is never a bad idea, from what I have heard. :slight_smile:

I’ve been told that even Mother Theresa experienced times of “spiritual dryness”. You are not alone.


#8

Do not give up. We all must fall many times before we can face God. Jesus himself had fallen how many times, and he NEVER gave up. Take small steps, my friend.! You can do it! And don’t expect yourself to move mountains. Maybe with the help of your dh you both can start small and grow together in God’s graces!!! You are in our prayers!


#9

quite frankly I think you are one heckuva good example…you keep going, one day at a time, and even though you may be beset by hardships you do not give up…

May I simply say “you are my heroine”.

so there.


#10

I just wanted to add that I think you are being too hard on yourself–and trying to fill your life with “religiosity” instead of true spirituality. As a Formation Director of a Lay Association of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, I see this all the time. People try to fill their every waking moment with something “religious” and end up frustrated when they don’t get the same “kick” out of it they used to. What has happened is that they have tried to run where God has wanted them to walk, and given up living in the world (whereas Jesus told us only to not be a part of it).

There is nothing wrong with enjoying innocent pleasures or dressing nicely or having things. The danger is in thinking these things matter. They don’t matter but they aren’t sins, either. And when we deprive ourselves of such things in the attempt to rush God into making us perfect, we get lost in our attempt instead of relying on God to work in us, day by day, one step at a time (as others have pointed out). Intention means more to God than striving to do what he has not asked us to do, which is what is meant by obedience is greater than sacrifice.

And I agree with your getting a Spiritual Director. It’s hard to go it alone, especially when we can so easily think we are doing all the right things when we shouldn’t be “doing” anything but allowing God to make us into what he wants. Most of the time all we have to do is get ourselves out of the way to let God do what he wants, not try hard to convince him we love him or how religious we can be, if you see what I mean. :slight_smile:


#11

Like others have pointed out, you are centainly not a lost cause. The very fact that you are troubled by this is an important of “recapturing” a degree of the spirituality you felt in years past.

Have you ever been on a private directed retreat? I would recommend doing so. Most religious are required to go on a retreat at least once a year for one or two weeks. Now, I do not mean joining another retreat group. I mean a personal retreat guided by an spiritual advisor. The spiritual advisor should not be a lay person (or Jesuit), but a consecrated religious brother, sister or priest.

I recommend a few days, certainly no fewer than three. Four or five would be better. Be prepared for a spartan time, no make-up, no fancy clothes, leave your cell phone home, etc. I even know people who will only bring one change of clothes, washing them out in the sink each night. The goal is to shut out the outside world and live very simply and humbly, even if it is for only a few of days.

Use the time to empty yourself of yourself. Bring only your Bible and one, just one, spiritual book; Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales is my favorite.

Some people choose to make a silent retreat, not speaking to anyone except the retreat director, not even so much as a “please pass the salt” at dinner.

You should not go with anyone else, at least for the first retreat. This is a time for you and God.

There are numerous retreat houses. In your search, be careful to choose one that is faithful to the church. Sadly, some less than faithful groups have discovered that this can be a lucrative way of spreading liberal dissent.

If you are in the Northwest USA, there is a very fine retreat house, Our Lady of Peace Retreat in Beaverton Oregon (olpretreat.org/)

If you are short on funds, no faithful retreat house will turn you away. Even if you are not, you will find a retreat is a not very expensive.


#12

I would think a spiritual director would be a great idea, especially if you don’t feel you have anyone that you can talk to about the dryness or joys of your journey.

The Northwest also has the Franciscan Spirtual Center in Milwaukie, OR, which might be of particular interest, given your background. Or the Benedictine Abbey in Mt. Angel…there are a lot of places for retreat, with many different formats and charisms, if you just take a look.

Did you know that you have two ears so that you can discern which direction a sound is coming from? Availing yourself of spiritual direction is no more than listening to God, only in stereo!


#13

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