Spiritual Apathy


#1

Hello everyone,

For the past 4 months or so I have been feeling very apathetic toward my relationship with Christ and His Church. It has been slowly getting worse since I have not received the sacrament of reconciliation in about 2 months, and I definitely need to. I know I need to pray to regain the vigor I feel like I once had, but it’s almost as if I feel like it is useless (edit: maybe hopeless is a better word?). I don’t want anyone to get the impression that I actually think prayer is “useless”, but I can’t help but feel that way sometimes. To me, it seems similar to knowing that sin is spiritual suicide, but we all do it anyway.

I feel especially guilty because I am a member of the leadership team of my university’s Catholic Student Association, as well as the weekly bible study leader. I have also been something of a spiritual guide / confidant to a younger Catholic friend. I feel like I am able to say all of the right things regarding faith, but I am not living them as I should. This is a very discouraging feeling to experience again, as in my first years of college I considered myself an atheist, but still performed the lip service to please my family. Although, the strange part is that I am a theist and believe that the Catholic Church is the only true church. I love to read, and often authors like Peter Kreeft rejuvenate me, but I haven’t been lucky enough to have that feeling lately. I feel like my life is devoid of Grace. I am reading a book reflecting on the Beatitudes which has helped, but not enough.

Hopefully I didn’t ramble too much. I was just looking for some advice or wisdom to help me out. Prayers would help too, as I have been lacking in that area myself.

Thanks,

Kib


#2

From the Sayings of the Desert Fathers:

A man had a plot of land. And through his carelessness brambles sprang up and it became a wilderness of thistles and thorns. Then he decided to cultivate it. So he said to his son: ‚Go and clear that ground.‘ So the son went to clear it and saw that the thistles and thorns had multiplied. So his spirit weakened, and he said, ‚How much time shall I need to clear and weed all this?‘ And he lay on the ground and went to sleep. He did this day after day. Later his father came to see what he had done, and found him doing nothing. And he said to him, ‚Why have you done nothing till now?‘ And the lad said to his father: ‚I was just coming to work, father, when I saw this wilderness of thorn and thistle, and I was deterred from starting, and so I lay on the ground and went to sleep.‘ And his father said to him: ‚Son, if you had cleared each day the area on which you lay down, your work would have advanced slowly and you would not have lost heart.‘ So the lad did what his father said, and in a short time the plot was cultivated.

Every little thing we do in cooperation with God‘s grace wins us more grace.


#3

kib,
Spiritual apathy is often a struggle for me, too, and something I’ve learned the hard way after having fallen for it so many times, is that feelings, or lack of, don’t mean anything. Sometimes we lose our ferver because of sin, sometimes it’s a temptation, but often it’s meant to refine us and make us less self-centered in our spirituality and our prayer. Consolations during prayer or feeling deeply compassionate during intercession are wonderful, but eventually God removes them for some period of time. When that happens, it’s really easy to become apathetic, to feel like things aren’t “working” anymore, so why bother? That’s when it’s time to dig in, get really stubborn and determined and just go with what you know to be true and what you know you should be doing. “For every thing there is a season…” This will make you stronger in your faith if you’ll let it. Go to confession, get back to prayer. Tell Jesus how discouraged you are, how you don’t feel like you care and about your doubts and fears of backsliding into atheism. He knows and He understands; He knows you better than you know yourself. It’s ok if you have to “fake it 'til you make it” for awhile. Trust that He is leading you to a deeper relationship with Him.


#4

Oh, and I forgot to add that I’ll be praying for you.:slight_smile:


#5

I don’t have anything encouraging to say, but maybe you ought to just see what comes of it.


#6

Many people suffer from sloth in the spiritual life, including me.

Here’s some good advice I received when I was at college:

“Pray as you can, not as you can’t” (Dom John Chapman, OSB). Find the form of prayer and time for prayer that are most amenable to your temperament- see The Temperament God Gave You by Art and Laraine Bennet. In general, when our prayer is dry, it’s good to check our spiritual reading, which should feed our prayer (Cardinal Basil Hume, OSB).

Find a confessor you can trust and make a regular appointment.

Get a full physical check up- your lethargy may have a medical cause.

Make a prayer corner in your room- it will call you to prayer, especially if you put an icon or statue that appeals to you there.

Pull up your lethargy by its roots. According to the desert fathers, the root of sloth is sadness or despondency. Find anything to remind you of the joys of heaven and of the Resurrection and meditate on the blessedness to which we are called (music, a picture, a poem such as Dante’s Paradiso or Newman’s Dream of Gerontius). There is a good article about it here: theotherjournal.com/article.php?id=272 .

Finally, as someone has said, judge your prayer by your faithfulness to it not by how much consolation you receive. If you get into a regular habit of prayer now, God will be delighted and it will stand you in good stead for your whole life. Try reading the Venerable John Henry Newman’s novel Loss and Gain. It is all about a young man coming closer to God while at college.

Take courage- be of good cheer- the Lord loves you and waits for you with open arms and heart.


#7

I know what this has felt like for many years where I have to ***push myself ***to pray, go to church and receive the sacraments. I know this might sound bad to some, but I tell myself to keep on going if it’s only to set an example for my kids. …it is okay to let the kid you mentor know how you feel, and how you overcome it, so don’t sweat the fact that you are a mentor. The kid doesn’t have to think you feel like a peachy Christian all the time. Those could be THE most important lesson to teach.

That said, I also want to say that yes I have been going through some apathy too, but I pray anyway----I have been tempted like you to think “What’s the use?” or whatever other nonsense pops into my head that worries me. but I keep praying and slowly something sensible creeps into my mind like “at least I am keeping the communication open with God” or "I still want to unite what I do daily with Him"eventhough I feel zip about it. “This is an important time”, I begin to think, “to focus on God and doing His Will (being kind and gentle with my family and others)” ----so all kinds of **good thoughts occur to me **as I pray or attend the sacraments, eventhough my feelings are sometimes messed up—disappointment, disillusionment, fear, dread, anxiety.

Well I hope I didn’t ramble a mile minute—you think you can squeeze something relevant out of what I said ???—I hope.
God Bless you!! And my prayer follows you whereever you go, Kib.


#8

Thanks everyone. It really does encourage me to get replies like this.

Last night I began reading The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, and its picking me up a bit. I will finish it today. I also plan to go to confession tonight or this weekend, which can only help.

I will keep all of you in my prayers today, as I have decided to set aside time for prayer only.

Kib


#9

If you’re enjoying Brother Lawrence, you might also like books by or about Charles de Foucauld or by his spiritual son, Carlo Carretto. Very practical spiritually and wonderful inspirational lives to ‘live vicariously’ through while you’re experiencing apathy.


#10

Seems to me that prayer is simply expression of the concerns of the heart. (Which the first post mentioned with the concern of Spiritual apathy). Look at the Our Father or the Hail Mary… a lot of concerns expressed. So, in the concern is the prayer.

I have found too that feelings do not really count, they may be nice (or not), but the Spiritual is on a different level, a more ‘sensing’ level, almost like intuition… neither has to be emotional.

Perhaps the prayer is really in the Spiritual level, it will take the Good Lords help for it to be recognized (sensed) as such. One may be just growing more in Faith, and does not know it… because of getting closer to God, who is outside of our Mind/Emotions… but can be sensed.

Perhaps the Good Lord has done some pruning of the lower branches to allow for more growth on the upper ones…

Keep going, you will learn because He will teach you…


#11

To this poor Catholic, I’d say you said a mouthful. You’re using a term which might apply to many of us in another post questioning the “dark night of the soul”…Maybe, what many of us are feeling is “spiritual apathy”…You put it well. “Spirtual apathy”…that’s it!

You also seem to be sort of confused or doubting the Catholic Faith while you are leading others. Perhaps, just stepping back and taking a break - instead of leading others let God in Heaven lead you. If you’re not sure about your beliefs, how can you teach determination in our Catholic Faith to others? But I beg you - don’t give up on our Faith. It’s a priceless gift.

Pray for God’s Fatherly Guidance, the Divine Mercy of Jesus and the Intercession of Our Lady.


#12

Everyone experiences apathy, doubts, confusion, “dark nights” including lay ministers, leaders and religious. It doesn’t necessarily mean a person should stop leading or ministering. It does mean focusing on what you know to be true or know should be done rather than on what you’re feeling. Feelings - or lack of - are temporary.


#13

*Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee. Blessed art Thou among women and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen. *

Come Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well beloved spouse. Come Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well beloved spouse. Come Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well beloved spouse.

Thank you Hlafidge for posting that excerpt from the Desert Fathers, it helps me with non spiritual apathy as well!!. I would love to read more about them and find out more about them.

May this post bring glory to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary!!

Come Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well beloved spouse. Come Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well beloved spouse. Come Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well beloved spouse.

*Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee. Blessed art Thou among women and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen. *


#14

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