Letter to a Friend


Dear Joe,

Have you ever noticed that there are people both in real life and on these very forums who are, by no stretch of the imagination, better than you or I? And by “better,” I of course mean that their spiritual lives are qualitatively superior, whereas you and I suffer despite our prayers, our piety, and our devotion. What separates you and me from them is that we tend to wear our suffering on our sleeve, so to speak. For example, as you mentioned to me in conversation recently, you talked about how you struggle with alcoholism and scrupulosity - the latter I know much about - and how you find yourself in tears as a result of your sin. Then you come here to these discussion forums or perhaps to someone at our parish and you’re told that you need to have faith, trust in Jesus, and pray…which is precisely what you’ve been trying to do! Have you noticed that some people seem to have all the answers? It’s like they speak from the recesses of some distant world full of the gifts of the Holy Spirit while you and I are left kicking and screaming somewhere just above the place where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth.

How nice it must be to have been graced by the Holy Spirit to understand sin in its proper place, to not tear one’s self to pieces when sin occurs, to not hate one’s self, to not despair, to have such great faith, to love abundantly, and to have such wisdom! While I myself have been teased with the vestiges of this realm, it never lasts for more than a few hours before I’m reduced to the whining, complaining, confused, despairing child which Our Lord has seemingly come to expect of me.

Don’t think, Joe, that I’m suggesting that those who are graced as such do not sin, do not suffer, have no heartaches or personal defects about themselves: no, I’m not suggesting that at all. Rather, please understand that I’m simply hinting at the obvious: that these individuals bear themselves up with such grace that it makes my own attempts look miserable. And these aren’t saints I’m talking about (at least, not those who have already passed into the beatific vision), but normal men and women like you and I; however, men and women who have excelled in the spiritual life.

I mention all of this because I’m tired, Joe, and I know you’re tired too. I’m tired of the war that wages within me, I’m tired of being an unfaithful child, and I’m tired of whipping myself before Our Father has even had a chance to be merciful - but, most of all, I’m tired of being the most unwanted, unneeded organ in the body of the Church, for who needs an organ that cannot even rely upon the graces supplied? It seems that to some it has been given to them to be the hands and feet of the Church, to others the heart and arms, but you and I, Joe, we are like the appendix, ready to burst our poison into the rest of the body only to be surgically removed so that the body properly functions again.

The truth is, Joe, I don’t get it, I don’t know if I’ll ever get it, and I’m tired of being told “how to get it” by those who are so fortunate as to know how. It’s pathetic to think that, as I am nearing 28 years of age and you are only 26, if God is indeed willing, we have only 50 more years of this hell to endure.

I ask for your prayers for I believe that you are a better person than me.



Dear Epistemes,
I think it was C.S. Lewis that once observed the futility of comparing one christian’s walk with another. I’m paraphrasing but basically since we none of us have reference too the standards by which Our Lord will judge us, it is impossible to evaluate the relitive merits of someone’s christian walk.
I all too often fall into the trap of comparing myself to others, especialy those I admire, and find myself lacking. In some respects it is healthy to have an honest aappraisal of one’s spiritual life but not to the point of causing dispair.
Keep your eyes on Jesus! He is our calling and our end. Focusing on Him is what transforms us. Be encouraged!


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