You really need a spiritual director to advise you. There’s so many pitfalls. There is a sin of spiritual gluttony you know. The enemy will convince us we have to do more than we can so we fall in a heap,. A soul without a spiritual director is like a leaf on a tree falling. The wind blows and it goes this way, then that way. The SD will take care of all your worries and concerns if you foloow his advice to the letter. God bless you.
E p i s t e m e s.
i know so much of what you are going through right now, Epistemes, and can relate to so much of what you feel. please know that you are far from alone in this, and that there is so much hope and healing available for you. i know that you struggle, and i can relate to you so much, and hope and pray that i will be able to help you in at least some small way through this post.
all this suffering in the world—at times, i also become overwhelmed by all the suffering in this broken world, and by my strong desire—my desperate need—to reach out to the broken and the lost and lead them to God so they can experience His Love, Mercy and healing. i’m slowly learning that i can’t save everyone, especially when i’m not fully healthy myself, and that i need to take care of myself and learn to love myself before i can truly reach out to others. i know that at times it can be incredibly painful to see and read about all the pain that goes on today, and the fact that you care so much about others’ suffering shows the goodness and beauty of your heart. but please remember that just as this world is filled with brokenness and sin, there is also so much hope and goodness. if you search for it, you will find it—and if you focus on the good instead of the bad, you should be strengthened and filled with enough hope to keep you headed in the right direction, even when you feel so broken and overwhelmed, as if you can’t take another breath or another step forward. my advice to you is to take a break from watching the news or reading the paper for a little while, and see how much ‘good news’ out there you can find, in the hope and prayer that it will strengthen and encourage you. God is still at work in miraculous ways—He has not abandoned this world, and there is still so much hope and love, if you know where to find it. as well as taking a break from focusing on the bad, i suggest that you might want to take a break from focusing on others and take care of yourself for a little while. it is not selfish at all to focus on getting healthy and stable yourself, for to show yourself love is the best thing you can do when you feel overwhelmed so that you can truly reach out to others and help them. it took me a very long time to realize this, but i’m getting there, and i hope and pray that you will soon reach the same point of acceptance and love for yourself, as you are an amazing person, Epistemes, and you have been amazingly helpful and supportive to me. if you absolutely feel that you can’t focus simply on yourself, why don’t you choose one way you can change the world and focus on that—something i struggle with is wanting to do too much for God at the same time, so i’ve chosen to focus on helping people on this website at the moment until i feel strong and stable enough to return to my self-injury support website as well, and see how many broken souls i can help there. my advice to you is to take a momentary breather from helping others, and to focus on doing one thing to reach out to others while mostly focusing on taking care of yourself. i hope and pray that you will find strength and hope in this, and soon be able to reach out to more people as you gradually find more energy and more healing.
all these prayers which are needed—i also struggle with this as well. i want to be open and honest with you about my own struggles, weaknesses and failures so that you know that you are far from alone in this, and that we all suffer in our own ways throughout our spiritual lives. i’m ashamed to admit that lately i’ve been absorbed in praying for myself, because i have so many people to pray for that it’s been easier just to focus on one thing at a time. but i’ve decided that instead of being so selfish in prayer, i’m going to work out a schedule to make things easier for me in my prayer life. for example, tonight i’m going to spend four hours in formulaic prayer, then an hour in mental prayer, then two hours praying the Rosary, then an hour of intercession for the people on Catholic Answers who i’ve promised to pray for. i’ve worked out a schedule so that each night i will intercede for different people who need my prayers—tomorrow night i will pray for my family, then for my friends, and so on. maybe it’s my OCD, but i find that working out schedules in my spiritual life has been incredibly helpful, and keeps me balanced, organized and faithful to what i need to do (for the most part). my suggestion to you is maybe to work out a schedule for your own spiritual life so that you don’t feel quite so overwhelmed—decide what time you’re going to devote to intercession for this group of people, etc., and what time you’re going to devote to praying for yourself. because i don’t have time during the day to pray because of school, i’m usually up extremely late at night spending time with God—you probably have more time than i do, so make sure that you have time to relax and take care of yourself as well in between sessions of prayer. there are a lot of people who need prayer, but if you decide to devote different times of the day on different days to prayer for them, it shouldn’t seem quite so overwhelming. if you’d like an example of this, please don’t hesitate to contact me, and i definitely wouldn’t mind sharing more of my own schedule with you. don’t forget to pray for your own needs as well—not only for your own needs, but please don’t forget that you deserve prayer as much as anyone else.
all these devotions to keep track of—it sounds like you are extremely devoted to the spiritual life, which is an amazing thing and shows how much you love God and want to grow closer to Him, but there is such a thing as doing too much at one time and overwhelming yourself. i don’t want you to feel that you have to do so much to please God or earn His Love or be ‘good enough’ for Him—He is already extremely pleased with you, He already loves you infinitely more than you could ever imagine or comprehend and you are already so much more than ‘good enough’ in His eyes. i don’t want to assume anything, but i know that i used to overwhelm myself to try to earn His approval—now i do my best to realize that i already have His approval, and reach out to others because i want to help them, not because i’m trying to earn the love of God. it sounds like your spiritual life is becoming more than you can handle, so please know that God would definitely understand if you took a little time to take care of yourself and gain stability and health again. i’m not sure exactly what you mean by ‘devotions,’ so if you would feel comfortable sharing with me some examples, i will do my best to help you figure out the best way to stay on target with them. if you’d ever like help in figuring out a schedule, i’ve become very good at this over the years, so please don’t ever hesitate to contact me, and i will do all that i can to help you.
all this need for quiet personal time—you definitely seem to recognize the essentials of a strong and healthy spiritual life, which is an amazing thing and shows how committed and devoted you truly are, and i admire you so much for it. i’ve decided that i’m going to begin spending an hour of quiet time with God in mental prayer, meditation and listening for His Voice before i wake up, after i spend an hour reading the Bible. you might want to try this—in my opinion, the best time to have a quiet time with God is before you begin your day, so that you can hear anything He may be impressing upon your heart for the day, and offer up your day completely to Him according to His will. an hour with Him before you get up should be all that you need—i suggest that you spend half an hour in mental prayer, offering up your day to Him and asking for whatever you need for the day, and then half an hour remaining as silent as you can, listening for anything that He may want to say to you. i suggest that you keep a notebook and a Bible nearby, in case any verses or words are impressed upon your heart that He wants you to remember. if you have the time to do this every day before you wake up, your day should go much better, and it should be much easier to focus on Him alone. then, you might want to spend some time before you go to bed (i don’t sleep, i pray, so i simply do this as part of my few hours of formulaic prayer time) thanking Him for all that He’s done for you, been for you and given you during that day, expressing your sorrow for your sins and asking Him to protect you during the night, offering it up to Him. there are some great morning and evening quiet time prayers out there, so if you’d like some, please feel free to let me know, and i will get them to you. beginning and ending your day with God should greatly help your spiritual life, and two hours out of your day should not be too much or too stressful. if it is, then you can adjust that amount of time with your schedule however you need to—i will begin my own quiet time tomorrow morning, and let you know how it goes, and if there are any experiences i’d like to share with you.
all this need to keep up with daily Scripture readings—i’m very ashamed to admit that i haven’t read my Bible yet this year, which is completely unacceptable, and tomorrow, when i begin my quiet time, i definitely plan to begin my hourly Bible reading in the few hours i spend with God before i begin my day. there are so many great Bible reading plans out there that only require a few chapters a day, but will lead you through the entire Bible in one or two years. don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to read the entire Book of Matthew in three days—it’s better to read a little consistently than a lot sporadically. personally, my plan is to read through the New Testament in a few months beginning tomorrow, and then through the Old Testament over the next few months after that, spending an hour each morning in God’s Word. but there are so many non-stressful, easy Bible plans out there—if you only search in “Catholic Bible reading plans,” you’ll find a great variety of reading plans, one of which is sure to work for you. don’t stress yourself out trying to keep up with daily Scripture readings—only half an hour in the Bible is worth a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions. definitely keep reading your Bible consistently, but make sure that you first find a reading plan that works for you, and find the time to remain committed to it. of course, i will be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers, that you experience the hope and healing you truly deserve, and grow closer to God through your spiritual life without becoming even more broken and overwhelmed.
- all these attempts to keep from sin—if you find yourself struggling with sin, Epistemes, then most likely you’re focusing too much on your own sins, weaknesses and failures, and too little on the abundant life and love of Christ within you. if you focus less on yourself and realize who you are in Him, then you should find the hope and strength you need to keep going even when you’re feeling overwhelmed. this is a great resource that i recommend that will really help you focus on who you are in Christ: ficm.org/whoiam.htm. i definitely suggest that you study and meditate on these truths until they became a part of you that you can turn back to and focus on when you’re feeling discouraged. once you truly know who you are in Christ, you will be able to focus less on yourself falling and much more on the strength of Christ that is within you, and let His abundant life and love flow freely from inside your heart. once you deepen your spiritual life and grow closer to God, it should definitely be easier for you to abstain from sin as well. i will definitely be praying for this to happen, especially so that you can know and experience His complete hope and healing in your life. please don’t lose hope or become discouraged with yourself. we are all sinners, with our own weaknesses, failures and sins that we struggle with, but i just know that you have the courage, strength, bravery and determination to overcome your weakness completely and become all that God wants, needs and calls you to be. when you feel disappointed or discouraged in yourself, remember the power of prayer, especially the Rosary—if you ask Jesus and Mary for their help in deepening your spiritual life and staying close to them and far from sin, of course they will help you! my advice to you is to deepen your spiritual life, pray for help, focus on Christ’s life within you and receive the Sacraments often. the closer you grow to God, the more you will grow in holiness—and the more you suffer, the more you will be purified as well. i know that you suffer so much, Epistemes, which is definitely a sign that God is working within you and within your life to bring you to complete sanctity in Him. it is His great and eternal Love for you that brings Him to give you these crosses—always be grateful for them, and appreciate that we can only truly advance in holiness through offering up our suffering for love of Jesus and the precious souls who need to be saved.
here are some great resources on the spiritual life that i found, that i hope and pray will help you immensely.
- the Rosary—theholyrosary.org/
savior.org/ online live Eucharistic Adoration]
louisville-catholic.net/WebCa…5/Default.aspx online live Eucharistic Adoration]
quiet time with God—comeaside.com
- the Rosary—theholyrosary.org/
please don’t grow discouraged, Epistemes, but remember that you are human, and will inevitably fall—but when you focus on the life of Christ within you, you will find true hope and strength.
all these Confessions—how often are you going to Confession? unfortunately, because my parents aren’t as religious as i am, i’m not able to go to Confession nearly as often as i’d like to, but once i’m older, i definitely plan to go weekly. i definitely recommend that you attend weekly Confession, so that you can experience the loving cleansing of this Sacrament, and receive all of its incredible graces. why exactly are you having trouble with Confession? is it simply because it’s yet another obligation that you have in the spiritual life? if so, i definitely understand, but please know that if you do what i usually do and set aside time to make a schedule and plan out each day, it should be easy to find time to attend Confession and experience the great Mercy and forgiveness of the God Who loves you so much. if you’d like an example of how i make a schedule for each day, please don’t hesitate to contact me, or if you ever need anything else at all. you have helped me and supported me so much, Epistemes, and i truly appreciate it with all of my heart. please know that i am always here for you as well, so please don’t ever hesitate if you’d like to talk to me.
all these spirituality books to read—it truly is amazing that you’re devoting yourself so passionately and so completely to the spiritual life, but because you’re trying to do so much all at once, your life is most likely growing unbalanced, which is causing everything to feel overwhelming. i repeat the suggestion i’ve given before of creating a schedule each morning that lists what your plans are for that day, and setting aside time for all that you want to accomplish, including a couple of hours to read a few chapters of one spirituality book if you have the time. i can definitely relate to having so much to do and so little time, as well as that desperate, broken feeling of being completely overwhelmed. but if you set aside the time and plan out your day, you will most likely see that you have more time than you realized, and that it is enough to have some set aside to enjoy a good book on spirituality, and grow in your faith.
all these websites to keep track of—finally, my last suggestion to you when it comes to keeping track of all the websites you are a part of is to, once again, create a schedule, this time for the week, that will outline which websites you want to visit on which days. i do suggest that you might want to focus on Catholic Answers for a few weeks, just until you no longer feel completely overwhelmed and feel stable enough to reach out to others on other websites as well. personally, i’m learning how to focus on one thing at a time until i know the stability and peace needed to reach out in other ways, so for now i am focusing completely on Catholic Answers, and then a few months from now i should be able to reach out on my self-injury support website once more. but for now,** Epistemes**, i definitely recommend that you focus on Catholic Answers and any other spiritual sites that you are a member of, and maybe take a break from reaching out to others to take care of yourself. this doesn’t mean that you are becoming selfish or withdrawing from the world, but you are such a compassionate person that i see you reaching out to others without taking care of yourself as well, which is essential if you truly want to help those around you. i definitely suggest that you use this website to ask for help and use its resources, and help as many people as you can on here for now, until you are able to reach out on other websites, once everything isn’t quite as overwhelming.
Epistemes, you are such an amazing person, and your passion for and devotion to the spiritual life is absolutely incredible. i just don’t want you to suffer so much, and i hope and pray that you will soon realize what an incredible person you truly are, and work out all the ways you’re feeling overwhelmed. i truly hope and pray that this post was able to help, comfort and support you in at least some small way, and that you are feeling at least slightly better. stay strong, stay safe and take care of yourself, and know that you are far from alone in this, and that you are definitely in my constant thoughts and prayers. God bless you!
in the peace and love of Christ,
Thank you, everyone, for your suggestions and advice.
I guess I feel so overwhelmed because I only have a few hours during each day to complete my devotions, readings, etc. Anymore I’ve been working at the office from 7:45 AM until 5 or 5:30 PM with only 30 minutes for lunch. And, of course, when I am at work, I try to focus on work; or, at least, just withdraw for 5 minutes in order to pray a decade of the rosary. I say little prayers throughout the day, but these don’t make me feel very close to God…and if I don’t feel close to God, I have a history of growing apathetic and falling into serious sins.
If I don’t do spiritual reading or keep up with my Scriptures, then I fall off track easily, I lose focus, and I can even become despondent due to the confusion that can set in.
If I don’t pray for other people and their sufferings, I feel selfish and full of pride.
If I don’t set aside at least 15 minutes to sit in silence, then my days run together and I can be ungrateful.
I fully recognize that there’s nothing I can do to guarantee my salvation, but I do have the great desire to grow closer to God…and I feel so inhibited by Time.
Is there some way you could mentally connect the work that you do to offering it for God or to doing it out of service for God? Remember that bible passage where St. Paul is writing to various groups of people, and to slaves he says:
Col 3:22 Slaves, obey your human masters in everything, not only when being watched, as currying favor, but in simplicity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, 24 knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance; be slaves of the Lord Christ.
I’m not saying you aren’t doing this! Not at all. Just, it seems to me that offering all those things that we have to do anyway is a way to stay connected to God throughout the day, maintaining an awareness of what he offered for us, and connecting ourselves to that offering and to his presence, to his being with us (Immanuel).
You can make your work into prayer. At the beginning of each hour or specific task, offer that work for one of your many intentions, and you will have doubled your effectiveness - you’re doing your work AND praying. You don’t have to be thinking about praying during the time of work - just at the short moments when you make your offerings. Then simply do the work to the best of your ability for the glory of God and for your intention.
Trust me, God doesn’t want bribery (discounting) for cigarettes to be offered up to him. I take enough issue with my work and company as is.
A job’s a job, though, in this economy.
I know a lot of people are giving you good suggestions, so I won’t add to their list.
However, please know that you are not alone! Many of us struggle with the same problems. It might help to remember what C.S. Lewis wrote, in “The Screwtape Letters”, about the “troughs” we may hit from time to time. Here’s a great passage (and remember this is written from the Devil’s point of view):
Our cause is never more in danger, than when a human, no longer desiring, but intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.
(bold added by me)
Change your routine if you need to (that often helps, both with spiritual and physical exercise:thumbsup:), but don’t give up!
Oh! I was thinking about your average job, not one where you feel like you (or your employer) are doing something possibly wrong or dishonorable. Is that how you feel? If you do, that could account for the trouble you report experiencing with getting off track and becoming despondent and confused. I mean, of course not praying enough leads to getting off track, but a concern like that over your job could be practically railroading you in that direction. It’s the sort of thing that can eat at you.
Still, if sometimes your job involves typing a memo or tidying shared office space or interacting with colleagues in a courteous manner or some other activity, those could all be done with attention to detail, charity, excellence, and professionalism. Your example could draw someone to Christ.
Can you be “the salt of the earth” while at this job? I don’t mean the perfect salt of the earth. None of us are. I mean, is it possible at all, or are the requirements of the job in conflict with your faith?
I think the glory be prayer is an ancient prayer that goes back a long way. The maronites say this instead of in the name of the father etc. It could well be from the apostles.
I’m not so at odds with my job that it interferes with my spirituality. I don’t agree with the ethics of large corporations, such as I work for, but what can I do? I pray I can work at least 6-7 more years before considering a religious vocation. (I have over $25,000 in mostly consolidated debt…and that definitely eats at a person. It’s funny how debt can almost rule your life and become the god Mammon.)
I try my best to be the salt of the earth to my co-workers, though I think I’ve cast myself as the “class clown” more than the pious, sympathetic Catholic. I’m quite jealous of people who can walk up to a co-worker and acquaintance and say, “Do you want me to pray for you?” I can’t do that. Not yet. Too much pride in this head of mine, still.
It’s hard for us all. PJP11 kept saying, " be no afraid." He was telling us to proclaim the gospel and don’t fear. I heard a story of an oold mystic who spent all his time trying to change everyone around him. Late in his life he realised he should have been trying to change himself. Sometimes we have to go out on a limb though and talk to people. If we don’t who will. We don’t need to worry about whether we are good apostles etc. Our Lord will do the work if we just make a little effort. God bless:thumbsup:
I read this today and I thought of your original post, as I think that interior recollection is closely tied to simplicity. I hope that I am not spamming the thread by writing it here. I do believe that interior recollection is very closely tied also to love, so when St. Maria Faustina suggests - when I don’t know what to do,
I ask love, it advises best
- deep interior recollection, that I think (and hope :eek: ) I receive as a result of deep prayer - maybe you have at least once in your life passing an entire night in prayer - :eek: :dancing: :clapping: , may possibly help me to choose the most appropriate spiritual practices for my state in life – in addition to the logic of spiritual reading and the **final say -> ** the authority of my current spiritual director :o
From Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus en.wikisource.org/wiki/Devotion_to_the_Sacred_Heart_of_Jesus#FIRST_POINT._.E2.80.94_The_ardent_desire_Jesus_Christ_feels_to_be_with_us.
16. IV. Fourth Disposition. - Interior Recollection.
The fourth disposition necessary for this devotion, if we would taste its sweetness, and draw from it all its advantages, is interior recollection. Almighty God does not make Himself heard in a confusion: Non in commotione Dominus. A heart open to every object, a mind constantly scattered abroad, and incessantly occupied with a variety of superfluous cares and useless thoughts, is not in a state to hear the voice of Him Who communicates Himself and speaks to the heart in solitude: Ducam eam in solitudinem, et loquar ad cor ejus. Perfect devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ is a continual exercise of the love of Jesus Christ. It cannot, then, exist without this recollection. Jesus Christ communicates Himself to the soul in a particular means of this devotion. It is necessary, then, that she should be at peace, free from embarassment and from the tumult of external things; in a state to hear the voice of her loving Saviour and taste the special graces which He bestows on a heart, free from all that can disquiet it, and prepared to be occupied with God alone.
This interior recollection is so completely the foundation-stone of the spiritual edifice in our souls, that without it, it is impossible to advance in perfection. It may be said that all the graces which a soul, not yet established on this foundation, receives from God are but characters formed in water, or letters imprinted on sand. The reason is this. To advance in perfection we must unite ourselves more and more closely with God. Now, without interior recollection, we cannot unite ourselves with God; for He makes His dwelling only admidst the peace of the mind, and the retirement of a soul that is not dissipated by various objects, nor disturbed by the perpelexity of exteior occupations. St. Gregory observes, that when Jesus Christ wishes to inflame a soul with His divine love, one of the first graces He gives her, is a great attraction to interior recollection.
It may be said, that the most ordinary source of our imperfections is the want of recollection and attention to ourselves. This is what stops so many in the path of piety. This it is which causes the soul to find scarcely any relish in the holiest exercises of devotion.
No one who had but little recollection has ever been very devout. Whence is it, said a holy man, that so many religious, so many devout persons who have good desires, and who seem to do all that is necessary to become holy, nevertheless draw so little fruit from their prayers, communions, spiritual reading; and that, after having practised all the exterior exercises of spiritual life for so many years, they appear to have drawn scarcely any profit from them? How is it that directors, who guide others in the path of perfection, remain themselves subject to their ordinary imperfections? that men of zeal, labourers who give themselves with so much ardour to the salvation of souls, persons who are entirely occupied in good works, still have passions so strong, are always subject to the same failings, experience scarcely any facility in prayer, and pass their whole life in a sort of languor, without ever tasting the ineffable swetness of peace of heart, always in disquiet; persons whom the thought of death terrifies, and the least misfortune depresses? All this comes from their negligence in guarding their heart and preserving it in recollection. These persons leave the care of their interior, and give themselves too much to the exterior. Hence it follows that they fail to perceive a number of failings, inconsiderate words, caprices, irregular affetions, purely natural actions. This would not happen if they were attentive in regulating their interior, and a little more careful in their actions, so as to prevent the passions which there find their nourishment from daily gaining strength, and this with the greater danger from their being masked under an appearance of zeal and virtue.
It must therefore be acknowledged, that interior recollection is so necessary for having a perfect love of Jesus Christ and advancing in the spiritual life, that we make progress therein only in proportion as we give ourselves to it. It was by this that St. Ignatius, St. Francis of Sales, St. Teresa, St. Francis Xavier, St. Aloysius Gonzaga attained the heigh of perfection. If we do not take care to keep ourselves recollected during our actions, we shall draw little fruit from them, however excellent they may be in themselves. Let us keep silence if we wish to hear the voice of Jesus Christ. Let us keep our mind at a distance from the tumult and embarassment of exterior concerns, that we may be at liberty to converse with Him longer, and to love Him tenderly and ardently.
The devil, who knows well the great advantages that a soul derives from this interior peace, and this custody of the heart, will omit nothing to make her lose this recollection. As he despairs of inducing her to leave off her exercises of devotion and her good works, he makes use of these good works themselves, to lead her to dissipate herself abroad, and go forth, so to speak, from that retreat, where she was safe from his persecutions. A soul, attracted by the satisfaction which is found in this crowd of external actions, led away by the specious pretext of doing much for God, becomes dissipated, and loses imperceptibly that union with God, and the sweetness of His presence, without which she labours much and yet advances little. A dissipated soul is like a lost and wandering sheep, which is speedily devoured by the wolf. We think that we shall find it easy again to enter into ourselves. But, besides that the presence of God is a grace, which is not always at our disposal, the soul is no longer in a state to free herself from the numberless external objects that occupy her. She has lost the relish for spiritual things, by the too long sojourn she has made, so to speak, in a foreign country. The remorse and uneasiness she feels, whenever she fixes her attention on herself, make this interior recollection a torment to her. She is dissipated, and in the end she loves the dissipation. Good God! what a loss is it for a soul to spread herself continually abroad on external things! What inspirations, what graces does she render useless! Of what favours does she deprive herself, by the want of recollection!
If we would escape this misfortune, we must take great care to keep ourselves always in the presence of God, and to preserve the spirit of recollection in all our exterior occupations. When the mind is working, the heart must be in repose–immovable in its centre, which is the will of God. From this it must never separate itself. To acquire this interior recollection (for thought it is a gift of God, it is never refused to those who desire it with ardour, and take means to obtain it), we must accustom ourselves to make many reflections on the motives which should actuate us in all we do. Before beginning an action, let us always take a glance to see if it is well ordered, if it is pleasing to God, and if we are doing it for Him. During the action, let us from time to time raise our heart to God, and renew the purity of our intention. A sign that we are doing an action for God is, that we leave it easily, continue it without uneasiness or regret, and are not annoyed when we are interrupted in it. But the surest and most effectual practice to preserve interior recollection in our principal exterior actions is, to represent to ourselves Jesus Christ as He laboured. Let us represent to ourselves with what modesty and exactness He worked when He was upon earth; how He applied Himself to perform perfectly all that He did; and with what meekness, with what tranquility He accomplished it. What a difference between His manner of working and ours! If what we have to do is displeasing to us, what specious reasons do we not allege to exempt ourselves from it! What pretexts do we make use of to put it off! With what tepidity and indifference do we perform it? If it suits our inclinations, we feel a degree of joy that soon causes dissipation in our soul. The mere thought of not suceeding, renders us uneasy and melancholy. Let us then propose to ourselves Jesus Christ as a model. We must look at Him continually, if we wish to keep ourselves in interior recollection and to advance in His love. When it is said, that in order to preserve ourselves in interior recollection, we must not be too much taken up with external things, it is not meant that exterior employments which are of obligation are an impediment to interior recollection. We may be very recollected whilst in action. The greatest saints, who have had most intimate communication with God, and who have consequently been most recollected, have been most actively employed in external actions. Such were the Apostles and apostolic men who have been employed in the salvation of their neighbour. It is therefore a mistake to suppose that the greatest exterior occupations are obstacles to interior recollection. Provided it be Almighty God who places us in these employments, these same employments are the most suitable means to keep us continually united with God. All that is necessary is, that we only lend, as it were, our mind to these external things, and do not give them our heart. We must absolutely choose one of these two things, said a great servant of God, either to become an interior man, or to lead a tepid and almost useless life. If we are not very careful to preserve our interior recollection, so far shall we be from fulfilling the designs of God, that we shall not even know them, and we shall never arrive, either at the degree of sanctity our state requires, or at perfection.
A man that is not recollected, wanders about without finding rest anywhere. He seeks after all kinds of objects, without feeling satisfied with any. Whereas, if by giving himself to recollection he entered into himself, he would there find God. He would feel a satisfaction in God, who by His presence would fill him with so great an abundance of His gifts, that he would no longer go to find elsewhere wherewith to satisfy his desires. This is what may be seen every day, in interior persons. We imagine that the love they have for retirement, and the pain they feel in diffusing themelves outwardly, is an effect of melancholy. But it is not so. They taste Almighty God within themselves; and the ineffable sweetness with which they are filled, makes them feel the diversions and pleasures which are met with in the world so insipid and nauseous, that they have a horror of them. When we have once felt what Almighty God is, and relished spiritual things, everything connected with flesh and blood becomes insipid.
What wonderful advantages are derived from the interior life, by those who have once established themselves in it! It may be said, that they alone relish Almighty God, and feel the true sweetness of virtue. I do not know whether it be the effect of interior recollection, or the reward of the care they take to keep themseles continually united with God; but it is certain that an interior man possesses faith, hope and charity in so sublime a degree, that nothing is capable of shaking him in his belief; he finds himself insensibly superior to all human fears. He is always in the same state of mind, always immovable in God. He takes occasion to raise his heart to God, from everything he sees and hears. He sees only God in creatures, in the same manner as, when we have looked for a long time upon the sun, we imagine that we behold it in everything we look upon afterwards.
Nor are we to suppose that recollection makes persons idle, and favours negligence. A man that is truly interior works more, does more good, and renders more service to the Church in a day, than many others who are not interior can render it in many years, even if they possessed greater natural abilities. Not only because dissipation is an obstacle to the fruits of zeal, but because the man who is not recollected, and yet labours much, labours indeed for God; whereas, in the case of one who is recollected, it is God Himself who, by means of that recollection, works for man. That is to say, a person who does not live in recollection, may have God for the motive of his actions, but humour, self-love and nature have generally the greater share in his good works. On the contrary, a recollected person, always attentive to himself and to God, always on the watch against the caprices of nature and the artifices of self-love, works for God alone, and according to the impression and the direction of the Spirit of God.
**The difference that is to be seen between an interior man and one who is not so, should be enough of itself to give us an esteem for recollection. We see in a man that is little recollected, an air of dissipation, which obscures the most striking actions of virtue, and which has in it something so repulsive, that it lessens the esteem we had conceived for his piety, and causes his words to have little or no unction. On the contrary, what an impression does that air of modesty, meekness and peace, which are visible on the countenance of a truly interior person – that reserve, silence, and continual guard over himself, make upon our minds? Does not all this inspire veneration and love for virtue? It is very difficult to be long recollected, without being really devout. For it is a certain fact, that the want of devotion generally springs from the want of recollection.
The means of acquiring this interior recollection, and of preserving this precious gift, is, to be very careful – **
1st. To avoid too great eagerness in what we do, and not to undertake anything which may prevent us from fulfilling, with entire liberty of spirit, our usual exercises of devotion.
2nd. Never to distract our heart with unncessary occupations, so as to render it barren for prayer.
3rd. So to watch over ourselves - and keep ourselves so disposed as to be always ready for prayer.
4th. To make ourselves masters of our actions, by raising ourselves, as it were, above our employments, keeping our hearts free from the embarassment and tumult that are generally caused in souls, by works of zeal, application to study, the care of a family, commerce with the world, the perplexity of business, and never considering the employments of our state, but as means to arrive at our last end.
5th. Retirement and silence are powerful means for gaining recollection. It is very difficult for a person who talks much to be very interior.
6th. Interior recollecion is not only the sign of great purity of heart, it is also its reward. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God; that is to say, they shall walk continually in His presence.
7th. To make this exercise of the presence of God easier to us, we may take some sign that may remind us of it, as the striking of the clock, the beginning and end of every action, every time we enter our room or leave it, the sight of a picture, the arrival of a person, and similar circumstances.
8th. Reserve and modesty in all we do, are excellent means for becoming interior, especially if we are careful to propose to ourselves for a model, the modesty and meekness of Jesus Christ.
9th. Frequent reflection is a great help to anyone that wishes to become interior: to consider from time to time, that God is within us, or rather that we are in Him; that wherever we are, He sees us, He hears us, He is close to us, – at prayer, at work, at table, in society; to make acts of faith in the presence of God; to be modest, alone as well as in company.
Finally, interior recollection is a gift of God. We must often ask this gift, and ask it as a necessary disposition for having an ardent love of Jesus Christ. This motive gives an efficacy to all our prayers. Devotion to the Saints who have excelled most in interior life, may be of great use for obtaining interior recollection. Such are the Queen of all the Saints, St. Joseph, St. Anne, St. Joachim, St. John the Baptist, and in particular, St. Aloysisus Ganzaga.
God cast you there, in the mold that you are. I think each type of person, no matter how advanced or unadvanced they are, can serve God somehow where they are. I totally understand what you are saying, though. I just thought I’d say something pious and useful, first. Actually, I think most of the stuff I write is for ME to read. Seriously. I ought to listen to what I wrote.
why do you feel forced to do all of these things? confession and keeping away from sin is required but the rest are optional.
Of course all of these things are great if you are interested, but if you feel overwhelmed you may want to slow down and get back to basics.