set backs

does anyone else experience spiritual setbacks? about 2 years ago is when i really began to try to get my life back on track. it’s when i first began listening to ewtn and relevant radio programming. i am always looking for ways to improve myself. i try to go to frequent confession, although this is not easy as i am not comfortable with our usual priest at my parish. in any case, what happens to me every now and again-as is the case right now- i go through these periods of thinking i really don’t seem to be getting anywhere. these realizations of complete spiritual immaturity and lack of education overwhelm me, and i begin to feel like i am right back at square one. believe me, this is worse than any plateau you may experience during weight loss! any advice is most welcome.


Welcome to life in Christ! The key is to persevere and to cultivate the virtue of Hope.

Welcome to the spiritual desert, where you grow in faith. Persevere.

This meditation, “Growing in the Spiritual Desert”, may help.

Often as we grow closer to God, we notice our imperfections to a much greater degree. This is normal. Read the lifes of the saints. Many of them have the experience that you are going through. Have faith in God. Continue to practice your faith. Love God. Pray Often.

I went to Eucharistic Adoration over my lunch hour today and just “happened” to read a passage from The Imitation Of Christ that might be helpful. Thomas Kempis (the author) is talking about the loss of spiritual feelings (devotion) which, perhaps, is the kind of set back you’re experiencing.

Selections from The Imitation Of Christ - Book 4, Chapt 15:
Christ: “You must seek the grace of devotion with perseverance, waiting for it with patience and confidence. The time and manner of this heavenly visit you must leave to God, until He wills to come to you.”

Thomas Kempis then shows the way out of this kind of spiritual desert . . .

“You should especially humble yourself when you feel little or no devotion. Do not be downcast or too upset about this. Often God is pleased to give in a single moment what He has withheld for a long time . . .”

“. . . When you have wholeheartedly delivered yourself up to God, placing yourself entirely in His care, you will find yourself united to Him in peace. The more perfectly persons abandon worldly things and the more they rid themselves of self-love through contempt of self, the sooner grace will come and enter into their liberated hearts.”

What you describe is perfectly normal and part of our spiritual growth. I know when I suffer the kind of set backs you mention, pride (loss of humility) and attachment to some worldly concern are often the culprits . . .

Hope this helps.

In St. Theresa of Avila’s masterpiece “The Interior Castle” she decribed the interior life as a castle with many levels and rooms. You can still be on one level. But find there are many rooms there. As God is infinite, so can this castle be. And it is not WE who move into the different rooms or levels ourselves. It is God who takes us there. Although you must cooperate with His grace, of course.

One caution she makes is to “Never stop praying!” This is the only way to stop making progress. So it’s true you may feel like you’re in a rut. But maybe this is where God wants you to be.

I’ve been there too as probably everyone else has. Just try to persevere with it.

Two of the most helpful books I’ve read about the spiritual life are The Spiritual Life by Adolphe Tanquerey (Tan Books) and Guidance in Spiritual Direction by Charles Hugo Doyle (Roman Catholic Books).

Dearest friend

I always think of faith in Christ like this in it’s movement and growth:

It is like the seasons, at first it starts like Spring, it slowly unfolds and opens up within you, the faith that God gifted to you. It is a quiet stirring of love that begins to bud.Then comes the summer of faith, it grows rapidly, flourishes to the present height it can reach at that time and the surges and burning within in the heart are great and intense. Then comes the autumn, where a struggle to maintain growth is difficult, it feels as though we are losing what once so rapidly grew. Then comes the winter, where sadness sets in the heart and it seems that everything has gone barren, but then dear friend it makes the harvest clean for the next growth stage in Christ your Friend and King, it is the building on the old to bring in the new from the seeds laid down in summer/autumn, then comes the spring again and the new buds of faith resume. So many fall away when the autumn of faith first arrives and feel they have lost Christ or He is losing them …this isn’t the case, it is the laying down of what has grown and raising it into a richer and deeper growth and this cycle repeats and repeats . It is our love and the trust and endurance in Jesus Christ is all that is required of us.

God Bless you and much peace and love to you always xx

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