Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but I can’t go anywhere spiritually, my prayer is…boring (that’s never been the case for me!), I don’t feel like my relationship with Christ is going anywhere, prayer seems pointless, I feel like I’ve offended God somehow. I’m not open to His Mercy. I can’t understand why I can’t accept His Love for me. I feel like I need to go to Confession, but I examined my conscience and there’s nothing there. It was static. Nothing. Maybe pride for not being able to see any sins? I’m thinking about writing to my Priest and asking him to be my siritual director. I just…I’ve been like this for a few years now. Why? Help. :shrug:
Many saints describe what you do and this is what they say about it: spiritual aridity comes and goes–sometimes God gives us great consolations and good feelings to encourage us. Othertimes he withdraws them to strengthen us and purify us in faith. Anyone can pray in time of consolation, but He wants you to continue to persevere even in aridity–you will then be able to say with certainty that you do so solely for love of God and not for any good feelings or other benefits you receive. You will also be able to trust that He loves you even when you don’t have good feelings.
I was thinking that might be the case and I even prayed that God will not prolong this experience and allow me to get through it, it just seems like a lost cause.
You may be experiencing what’s called the Dark Night of the Soul. Every Christian, and I do mean EVERY Christian, goes through this. Some Christians go through much, much worse, believe it or not. I myself often go through this. Not continuously for several years like you’re experiencing, but periodically, enough to really shake me up.
What I do is I keep praying anyway.
I don’t try to do spontaneous prayer, because during these periods of aridity and spiritual dryness, spontaneous prayer is just too hard to make happen, so I use a prayer book. Get a good one, like THE ESSENTIAL CATHOLIC PRAYER BOOK published by Liguori press. Pray especially, using the book, the prayers to and the Litany of the Sacred Heart. Offer the prayers to God for the conversion of sinners – SERIOUS sinners, like big time heretics, sodomites, abortionists, etc., and for the holy souls in purgatory. God considers such intercessory prayers to be very generous on your part. Please do it.
And pray the Rosary every day. Get a book on THE SCRIPTURAL ROSARY or do a google search for Scriptural Rosary. Be SURE to pray at least 5 decades of the Rosary every day without fail, even though you feel dry and empty doing it.
God WILL eventually reward you.
My prayers and thoughts are with you in this difficult time.
God bless you abundantly,
Hey, I can kind of identify with you, not about not finding any sins (because I have so many!) but about not being open to God’s love. On the other hand, I can sympathize with you in being prideful, my pride, most of the time, is usually what motivates me to commit my sins. But if you haven’t committed any serious sins you have nothing to be worried about, but we must remember humility, and imitate Christ and the Saints and remember that without Him we are nothing, so instead of thinking about the sins that you haven’t committed maybe ask thank Him for being so gracious to you and ask Him to continue to give you the grace necessary to stay in the state of grace. If your pride seems problematic enough to you to warrant making a Confession, do so! Any amount of Confession, no matter what the sin, is good for the soul!
About prayer, prayer sometimes is boring, because we tend to forget who we’re talking to. But when we recognize that each time we engage in prayer we are conversing with the Redeemer and Creator of mankind who loved us so much that He sacrificed His very Self in order to give us life. This act of love shed boundless Mercy upon humanity, and the Lord continues to be open in Mercy! Just always remember how much God loves us, that He loves us so much that He laid down His life for us! And that he will always love us no matter what, remember this in your prayer, that in spite of everything, Deus caritas est (God is love).
I hope this was helpful somewhat. I can totally understand your situation because I’m the same age as you are and I do get discouraged a lot in my walk with Christ. But we must remember that through sufferings and sacrifices we are united the strengthened in Him.
I meant to mention,
just so you’ll know what God puts some Christians through for their own good (( but it sure DOESN"T feel very good !!! ))
go to tanbooks.com
and order a copy of ALEXANDRINA The Agony and The Glory by Francis Johnston. It’s about the life story of Alexandrina da Costa, a victim-soul for Christ, who lived from 1904 to 1955.
The book has quite a few pictures in it. It is a quick but mind-blowing read, let me tell you. I finished it in one afternoon, I just couldn’t put it down. Be sure and get it. It will, and I do mean it WILL, change your outlook on suffering. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2004.
And do ask your priest to be your spiritual director, too, cuz that is a very good idea to have a spiritual director.
God love you,
“Not my will, but yours.” This is the key prayer to get through these times. Ask for the grace of persevence every day and for the grace that your will be united to God’s.
Here’s a good chapter from St. Alphonsus Liguori’s little booklet, “Uniformity with God’s Will.” (really, the whole booklet is great!)
Jaypee4 mentioned the Dark Night of the Soul, he may be right, but this is very rare. What you describes sounds more like a general aridity to me–but either way, I think the above advce from St. Alphonsus is good
When you experience aridity at prayer-- that’s actually when you’re praying the best. Don’t worry about it.
Remember that the point of prayer is to unify yourself with God, to spend time with God. The point is not to receive spiritual consolation, that is, to, “feel good.” If one were to never feel good in prayer, it would still be very necessary to pray.
Going through a period of aridity is a chance to cleave to God in the dark and obscure way of faith. It is where we learn to love God, not because we are rewarded with spiritual sweetness, but purely out of love-- completely because we want to do God’s will always. The measure of good prayer is not how we feel but how we grow in virtue. If you’re becoming holier, well, then your prayer is fantastic! If you don’t become holier, no matter how much you enjoy prayer, it is empty.
I recently read a book on prayer called, “Fire Within” by Thomas Dubay which is about St. Theresa and St. John of the Cross on Prayer (a very good primer on getting into them). And, recently, I began to read from St. John’s, The Ascent of Mount Carmel, besides other good devotional material. You can’t go wrong with what any of the posters here have mentioned. St. John explicitly lays out how prayer works in brilliant theology, and I’m sure St. Theresa does as well. God bless.
EDIT: The book Genesis recommended can also be found here: Uniformity with the Will of God. Just in case you like the layout of that site more and it makes it easier to read.
I just seem to be coming out of this (at least I hope I am). Although I cannot say this time it lasted very long, I have been through this before, and I believe that I can be truthful when I say I know how you feel. To be honest, I still have not gone to confession, and I am quite scared to. For the past few months I have basically minimized God out of my life and have not really cared if I sinned or not. As you can imagine, I commited some disgusting sins. All I can really say is to just keep truding along. I suggest sitting down one day, and not necessarily praying, but just speaking to God, and tell Him exactly how you feel. He already knows, and He has the answer. You must go back and really start talking to Him. Relationships…even with God, are not a one way street. It requires communication on both ends. I suggest if you want this to get better sooner rather than later, start talking to God more. Of course, I make no guarentees, and ultimately you must trust that the Lord knows what is best for your salvation. That last sentence is probably the only real “advice” in this entire post. Just keep praying, and keep trusting God. He died for you, and He promised to be with you always.
Of course, you will be in my prayers. Peace be with you.
I haven’t explicitly adressed this concern to the Father yet, which was blindness on my part! I’ve asked Mary through the Rosary to ask Yeshua (which is what I feel most comfortable calling Him right now) to give me the Divine strength and patientce I need in this time. Maybe I should read some Old Testament stories. They seem to be chalk full of ex-sinners who were chosen by God for something. That seems to be my situation. I was into some major sinning (pornography, lust, masturbation) a few years ago and I still haven’t healed from that. I am reading “Jesus of Nazareth” by Pope Benedict XVI right now to strengthen my relationship with Him, and I also ordered “Prayer Primer” by Fr. Thomas Dubay. May God help us all.
I’m recording my experiences in my spiritual journal so maybe I can write a book or something and shed light on the subject for others in this situation.
Our state of grace is so fragile. How foolish we are to gamble it like we do. May God give us all a perserverance to get through the Crosses He gives us.
The Gospels are the heart of Scripture, and are always the perfect medicine for those who wish to overcome sin and live as God does-- because we can directly imitate our Lord by them. If you are interested in another method of prayer, look into lectio divina, or sacred reading-- it’s basically praying with Scripture.
Your post reminded me for a moment of Paul in Romans 7,
24 Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore, I myself, with my mind, serve the law of God but, with my flesh, the law of sin.
I feel like echoing verse 25… thanks be to God through Jesus Christ!
While it does take a long time to heal from our sins… I’ve found that St. Francis’s advice is the best. So often we throw off sin, and yet still cling to it by wishing that we could have it, if only it wasn’t illicit. And so, I found his advice on giving up sinful affection to be one of the deepest and best observations on the interior life. If you still have trouble, take this advice to heart!
Good luck and God bless.
Don’t forget about that wonderful Psalm…number 51!
“My sacrifice, God, is a broken spirit; God, do not spurn a broken, humble heart.”
Ah, that whole Psalm is beautiful, and I must say I use it quite frequently in prayer.
I’m so sorry, there is no worse feeling. Pray your way through it and eventually you will come out.
Indeed. And like this, the theology of the book of Daniel is amazing. From the prayers of the three from the fire in ch. 3,
38 We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader, no holocaust, sacrifice, oblation, or incense, no place to offer first fruits, to find favor with you. 39 But with contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received; 40 As though it were holocausts of rams and bullocks, or thousands of fat lambs, So let our sacrifice be in your presence today as we follow you unreservedly; for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame. 41 And now we follow you with our whole heart, we fear you and we pray to you. 42 Do not let us be put to shame, but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy.
It is quite clear from Scripture what God really wants-- you, and not a bit more or less.
Sometimes God creates, or needs to create, an emptiness in our soul free of attachments so he can fill us with his prescence and his love. The mystical doctors of the church call this ‘poverty of spirit.’ As we draw close to God, what is unlike God in terms of sinfulness and selfishness and self-will is burned away by God’s love, but for a person who is a beginner on the road of contemplation, this fire can seem like a terrible and awful emptiness like hell or purgatory. St John of the Cross wrote extensively on this and his works are essential reading for any Christian forming themselves on the prayer life or the life of spiritual contemplation.
This emptiness is not God abandoning us, rather God withdraws feelings of pleasure and consolation so we may instead be filled by God’s life giving prescence himself, not his gifts (which consolations and pleasurable feelings or visions are). This is infinitely better than any consolation God can give.
I’m going to go on a 20 day computer and salt fast (since those are something I consider an attachment I have) so I can clear my mind and soul.
This is my official sign off. See you in twenty days! Pray for me.
I will pray for you. Peace and God bless!
One of the great things about being Catholic is our treasury of prayers. Protestants sometimes accuse us of repeating meaningless phrases when we pray repetitive prayers, like the Rosary, etc. But during times of great stress or grief or dryness, when we just can’t find the words to pray, we have the words, right in our memories, or prayer books, to get us through. I’ve always considered this a great blessing.
I find great comfort in our “rote” prayers. Sometimes at work,they are what gets me through the day.
I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself and my perspective is more of the physical than the spiritual. You’re 17 (almost 18) and I’m betting more than one of us here had the “I just don’t feel like doing anything or going anywhere (physically, mentally or spiritually)” feeling at that age. You can’t discount teen hormones. I was pretty spiritual in my youth but I spent most of my teen years sleeping on the couch. I was mentally and physically tired. I’m betting you eventually get more spiritual, mental and physical zip in a few years and then you’ll hit the child raising years and will have to start all over again! It’s a constant battle. You’re not alone.