Is there such a thing as being too positive in our journey towards God?


#1

I need help in understanding something. I am always surrounded by people who want or need to be positive in the our journey towards God. I have read many books on Saints and I have especially poundered on St John of the Cross for over 20 years. And yet, when I read his writings there is a balance between what people perceive as positive stuff and what they perceive as negative stuff.

In other words, God loves us all (true) and Jesus died for each and eveyrone of us (true). He loves us with warts and all (true).

But with these people who I have journeyed with for over 20 years in a prayer group cannot or will not mention sin (if they do, it is only to say that God loves us as sinners, which is true also.) Even mentioning the fact that if we ask Jesus what our sin is (through the exercises of St Ignatius) that most offends Him and He would show us, they look blank-faced. They would rather look at the pot and not the crack.

If I mention that if we truly live our faith and we do not get persecuted for it in some way…whether in teasing or serious name-calling…then something is amiss. All of our Saints suffered in one way or another for their love and devotion to Jesus and what they believed in.

Now, I am talking about people who are NOT neophytes. It seems they enjoy the ‘feeling good’ stuff and my interjecting every so often with what is perceived negativity, is most discouraging.

I have a pastor who calls sin exactly what it is…sin. We have lost so many parishioners because of it. But, I support him and I believe this is what is needed within our churches. People do not know what our faith is all about.

I could go on and on…but…is there a term for ALWAYS wanting to be positive in our journey towards Christ while being a true Catholic? At first, I thought it might be positivism. But I do not think that is the term.

I do not feel that I am negative…but I feel that way when I approach them with a different perspective that is also loving but not perceived ‘positive’.

Please help me…:frowning:


#2

You seem to have it right.

I have a pastor who aggravates me because he seems to act like God is love, your sins are forgiven, eat drink and be merry! lol


#3

This is WHY we read and study the lives of the Saints. They show us the way to God, because they’ve been there. And the road has potholes and rumble strips.

Those who don’t realize this (or prefer not to acknowledge it) are, indeed, neophytes. Now, they may be VERY *experienced *neophytes, but their faith has never grown beyond a very shallow and superficial “feel good” fairy tale.

The lives of the Saints are often filled with struggle and hardship, both physical and spiritual (and, of course, Dark Night of the Soul is the textbook for this struggle). As St. John’s contemporary once remarked, “Lord, if this is how you treat your friends, it’s no wonder you have so few of them!”


#4

the great saints and spiritual writers are unanimous in asserting that until one undergoes first conversion froms sins of the flesh, then willingly accepts the actions of God in purifying them from these sins, only then does one embark on purification of the spirit, which leads to union with God. St John of the Cross would call these the first dark night and the second dark night. In no way can the soul progress to the threshold of and through the second dark night until they have undergone conversion and purification from sins of the senses, that is sins arising from the tempations of the world, the flesh and the devil.

Shoshona is vey right in pointing out that many are seeking the easy spirituality of self-induced meditative or altered states (such as is promoted by advocates of centering prayer) without confronting their sins and sinful nature and allowing God to work in therm for their purification and perfection. That is precisely why Ignatius divides his spiritual exercises into weeks, and the second week of humility, awareness of one’s personal sin, the examen, contrition and penance is so long.

All the great saints point out that their is a linear progression, demanded by our human nature, in conversion, repentence, purification, and contemplation. John calls it the Ascent, Teresa describes the progress through the many rooms of the mansion, Ignatius describes the weeks, they are called spiritual passages, periods, stages by other directors.
It simply is not possible for a soul to reach union with God and infused contemplation without initial and ongoing conversion, which absolutely demands honest recognition of, contrition for, confession of, and penance for one’s sins.


#5

I think there is such a thing as too much positive. I agree with what you are saying. For years I didn’t really believe in the devil. I went to a church that basically taught that there was only one power/presence in the universe and that it was God and God was good. Anything bad was a lack of focusing on God. Don’t ask me, at the time it seemed to make sense. (I am not Catholic yet but planning to begin RCIA next week.)

However, I noticed that for years I felt that if things were going bad I would blame myself for not being positive enough or feel that God had abandoned me and was not there for me. Neither of which is a logical or healthy way of looking at things. Had I had the saints as examples or even been really studying my Bible, I would have realized this sooner!

Finally a few weeks ago, I realized that there is such a thing as the devil! It’s not me not being positive enough. It’s not God abandoning or ignoring me. He is always with me! I have to believe that a lot of negative things and negative thoughts are the devil or evil or whatever you want to call it. Now I’m not crazy and looking for the devil around every corner but I feel strengthened in my knowledge that God is with me even when bad things are happening and that perhaps sometimes they do happen to deter me from my faith and I am not letting that happen.

It seems that the more devoted to our faith that my husband and I become, the more our circumstances have seemed to take a dive lately! Frustrating. Makes me wonder if it is a devil kind of thing trying to sway us from our faith but we’re not having it! We have also had some good things happen and I’m focusing on them.

At any rate, yeah, I think sometimes there is too much of this positive **** and we do need to realize that it’s not ALL about that. I definitely believe in being positive but it’s not the only thing and it’s deceptive in some ways. Everyone suffers in some ways and it makes us stronger and brings us closer to God and no amount of positive thinking will do away with it all. To me that’s a fantasy.

Amie


#6

From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank you for your responses. You are helping me a great deal! :heart:

While at Mass this morning, it came to me that maybe this ‘positive’ always kinda of thinking is possibly an infiltration sometimes of New Age. New Age is POSITIVE ALL THE TIME! Of course, I am not saying that these people delve into this new age business (which is old age really) but it sure is contrary to what I have experienced or read.

I sure wish I could coin it with a label…:hmmm:


#7

[quote=Shoshana]From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank you for your responses. You are helping me a great deal! :heart:

While at Mass this morning, it came to me that maybe this ‘positive’ always kinda of thinking is possibly an infiltration sometimes of New Age. New Age is POSITIVE ALL THE TIME! Of course, I am not saying that these people delve into this new age business (which is old age really) but it sure is contrary to what I have experienced or read.

I sure wish I could coin it with a label…:hmmm:
[/quote]

Hi Shoshona,
I know what you mean, there is an insipid, touchy-feely ‘I’m okay, you’re okay’ philosophy that has invaded the church. I think it reflects wider cultural trends. It is a stumbling block to making real spiritual progress that the Church is supposedly supposed to be helping us with.

I personally have been feeling discouraged and unsupported by my church lately. Our priest has cut back on confession times, daily mass offerings, etc. I just can’t keep going it alone, and feel abandoned by the church in my journey. I get more help and support from the secular world. :frowning:


#8

In the Spirituality Forum, there is this thread, “Pope: Faith is not just following dogma, but constant search for God”. The following is a quote.

“Originally Posted by CNS
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) – Faith is not just compliance with dogma, but entails an incessant search for the authentic face of God, Pope Benedict XVI said in his Aug. 28 Angelus talk. “Looking for Christ must be a constant yearning of believers, of young people and adults, of the faithful and their pastors,” the pope told pilgrims gathered in the courtyard of the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. “Faith is not simply compliance with a complete set of dogmas, which would drown out” humanity’s thirst for God, he said. Rather, faith propels human beings on a path toward God, who is “always new in his infinity,” he said. The Christian, then, “is someone who both seeks and finds at the same time,” said the pope. This cycle of longing, searching and discovering is what makes the church “young, open to the future, and rich in hope for all of humanity,” he said.”


It seems to me that there is what I term an “unofficial” dogma within Christianity. It has many of the characteristics mentioned by previous posters. Sin is avoided in sermons, discussions, prayers, and even hymn-singing. There is a “positivism” that seems to take for granted the Holiness of God, wants me to “feel good, be happy” without ever stating how so. It’s celebratory without little indication of the very fundamental reason why to “be glad and rejoice!”

Consequently, I think this “unofficial” dogma drowns out “humanity’s thirst for God,” in the words of Pope Benedict XVI. So, there is “no incessant search for the authentic face of God.” Instead, there is a compliance with this “unofficial” dogma that would have me be a fool about myself, others, and who God is. Bascially, it’s the “empty tomb without the cross.” And, this is, as it alway has been, a threat to our foundations of faith.

My 2 cents.:slight_smile:


#9

There is comfort in these posts…there is a great need for this kind of knowledge. I may just look up ‘positivism’ and see what pops up…:blessyou:


#10

It has always seemed to me that as Catholics we are often a people of extremes, either being very positive and upbeat at the very borders of heaven or scrabbling about in the dirt with our feelings of sin and unworthyness. My problem with all this is that it seems that some individuals are almost always living in one of the extremes. They rarely if ever experience the opposite state of mind. Some have even said that people leave the Catholic Faith to belong to a “feel good” church. While I don’t disagree that this happens, it would seem that the implication is that the Catholic Church is not such a Faith and Catholics should never "feel good."
My opinion is that healthy human beings would experience a spectrum of feelings over their lifetime and that being stuck in one place or another or being manic/depressive is unhealthy and undesirable; denoting a lack of being in touch with reality.


#11

[quote=rwoehmke]It has always seemed to me that as Catholics we are often a people of extremes, either being very positive and upbeat at the very borders of heaven or scrabbling about in the dirt with our feelings of sin and unworthyness. My problem with all this is that it seems that some individuals are almost always living in one of the extremes. They rarely if ever experience the opposite state of mind. Some have even said that people leave the Catholic Faith to belong to a “feel good” church. While I don’t disagree that this happens, it would seem that the implication is that the Catholic Church is not such a Faith and Catholics should never "feel good."
My opinion is that healthy human beings would experience a spectrum of feelings over their lifetime and that being stuck in one place or another or being manic/depressive is unhealthy and undesirable; denoting a lack of being in touch with reality.
[/quote]


If one being a Saint means being extreme…well, I am game. It is a well-known fact that Catholciism is a faith of contradiction. There is no real joy if one has not experienced real sorrow, you must die to self to live fully, …etc…etc…and there is great truth to this kind of spirituality. But I also believe there is a necessary balance for all. I do not believe that everything is positive…nor do i believe everything is negative…but you can’t have one without the other.

All in all, I do not believe in tip-toeing through the tulips. Tiny Tim did a good job of that.

To even enjoy tulips, one must break soil, nurture the soil, make some money to buy the tulip bulbs, then plant them in the fall, worry about every kind of bug, and then wait for a whole winter for them to bloom. And for how long? Then we see the leaves wither and die…only to repeat its cycle. And yet we do enjoy the spring tulips, it is a breath of fresh air, is it not?

But there is work and patience to be had…

No different than the faith…


#12

I’ve been told that in a time when Russia was deep in the throws of communist oppression, the Blessed Bishop Sheen made a comment similar to the following:

“Russia is the cross without Christ. America is Christ without the cross.”

I’m not so sure about Russia, but the part about America is as true today as it was then.

You might call your affliction “cross-less Christianity”. Contemporary “Christian” America is obsessed with the “feel-good-pleasantries” of their religion and the “smiling, friendly Jesus”, and pays no attention to the suffering servant or the God of Justice who will cast unrepentant sinners into eternal damnation. Hopefully sooner rather than later they will come to see there is only one God, who is both merciful and just, loving *and *intollerant, and humble and worthy of all praise. May He guide you in your ways.

God Bless,
RyanL.


#13

[quote=RyanL]I’ve been told that in a time when Russia was deep in the throws of communist oppression, the Blessed Bishop Sheen made a comment similar to the following:

“Russia is the cross without Christ. America is Christ without the cross.”

I’m not so sure about Russia, but the part about America is as true today as it was then.

God Bless,
RyanL.
[/quote]

Wow Ryan, that’s a great quote!!! :thumbsup: That’s so perfect for what Shoshona is trying to say!!! Kudos! :thumbsup: :slight_smile:


#14

Shoshana,
I believe that a balance is possible. Not a compromise mind you but a balance…I have an absolutely wonderful pastor at my parish who takes everything totally seriously yet at the same time he is compassionate and thoughtful. Let me try to explain…if I can… He is the first one I have ever heard of that will ask if you truly are repentant and desire to not commit a particular sin you confessed at reconcilliation yet he is kind about it. After reconcilliation one day he looked at me and said, “That was really good, I know it(the confessed deed) bothers you greatly, and this is what you can do about it…” Fr. was the first one to show compassion and mercy toward my hyperactive and very frustrating son when the principal wanted to kick him out of school. He could have let her do it for the reason that he was not performing to standards and was disruptive, but instead he took my son under his wing and personally promised me that he would be able to finish his last year there. He made my son work for it though, he spent time with him and made sure the male teachers did as well (I was a single mom at the time and puberty is very difficult with no man around). His last couple of homilies have been about how people only want the Jesus of Christmas not the crucified Jesus of Easter. It has been totally awesome to hear him talk about learning to be the crucified Christ for others. When I very recently got married, Father made sure that we were both totally sure of what it meant to receive the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. At times it almost seemed like a DUH thing but then when you look at the way people view marriage now I totally understand it. I have actually seen him refuse to marry people that he didn’t think “got it”. On the other hand…he was also the one that asked to see my husband and I after mass (before we were married) and asked if we were ever going to get married. His reason was that we are always at mass together and we both looked to him like we should be husband and wife and we treated each others children like they were our own… (which normally got me in trouble with his ex) Anyway the point is…you don’t have to be hardened to be a “good” Catholic. When I think of a good Catholic I think of someone like him; someone who truly imitates Christ in his thoughts and deeds. Someone who is not afraid to say what he means, but remembers to temper his words with the mercy and love that Christ would. Do you understand what I mean?


#15

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