My Occasional Dark Night

For several years of my life, the final words of Jesus before his death on the Cross puzzled me. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34).  The word forsaken according to a thesaurus has many synonyms but the two that stand out to me are quit and desert.  Let’s insert these words into the previous quote and read it again. On the Cross Jesus cries out, “My God, my God why have you quit on me and deserted me?” I think that everyone relate to Christ’s words. Within my own life I feel God has quit on me too many times remember. Because of this, I may be currently experiencing a period of abandonment and loneliness. 

Why am I telling you this? Is my accusation of God’s commitment to me a grave danger to my Catholic faith? Is my feeling of abandonment caused by outside factors such as my work, stress, the winter weather or something else? Perhaps. However, I felt compelled to journal about my inner struggles as a Catholic man as a type of prayer to God Himself. 

Let me back up and explain how I have grown to realize that feeling abandoned by God is not necessarily a bad thing. A few years ago, I was taking graduate theology courses and there was a particular class where I was required to read St. John of the Cross’s A Dark Night of the Soul– a spiritual grace that flowed from his period of spiritual loneliness. During this time of my life, I starting reading the Diary of St. Maria Faustina and she expressed similar sentiment. The Polish saint writes, “O Jesus, today my soul is as though darkened by suffering. Not a single ray of light” (Diary 195), Her words express my exact thoughts today. 

When I read Faustina’s words I felt provoked to learn more about the words of the dying Christ, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It turns out that the Gospels writers were making an allusion to Psalm 22- a prayer the psalmist wrote as a lament to God. I believe that the Holy Spirit was teaching me by fusing my theological background of the Scriptures with my current life experiences. 

Maybe God is allowing me to suffer spiritual loneliness because He knows that this will direct me on the path of prayer again. Lately, I have not been the best Catholic. I have been impatient at work and home. I allow doubt to creep into my life. Perhaps this spiritual abandonment is the greatest gift God can grant to me now. Perhaps God is doing the same thing in your life now. Let’s embrace this loneliness together and continue to hope in God’s Providence. Amen. 

Thank you for sharing!

Armadillos or Peccadillos

I recently watched a nature themed kids’ television show with my son. The animal talked about during this episode was the armadillo. I personally find this creature fascinating—armor for defense and ability to roll up in a ball—how cool is that! My line of thought is somewhat interesting so please let me explain the connection an armored placental mammal has with the title of today’s post.

The dictionary defines the word peccadillo as “a minor sin or offense”.  In fact, the word derives from the Latin word “peccare” which meant “to sin”. Why I am I bringing this up? Well, I am not sure about the rest of humanity, but from my perspective I struggle constantly with the little sins adding up. I justify my lack of concern but thinking, “Matt these are only minor offenses, really I am a good guy and an overall good husband”. I had a revelation during my weekly men’s faith group at my Church—being a “good guy or good husband” is not GOOD ENOUGH.

I have mentioned this New Testament story in a past post, but I think it is appropriate for me to reflect upon Mark 10:17-27 again especially during this Lenten season. Here Jesus encounters a rich young man who asks our Lord a simply and profound question, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus then asks if the man keeps the commandments and he responds quickly, “Teacher, I have kept these things from my youth up!” But the next sentence uttered from Christ sends the man home in sadness—he is challenged to give up his attachment to earthly things.

I truly relate to the rich young man as I am quick to say “Teacher, I have kept these things [commandments] from my youth up.” In other words, I have lived most of my life free from mortal sin and only stumble by way of peccadillos. Yet this is not the mindset of a Christian who fully loves the Creator. I need to make a better pledge to utilize the sacrament of Confession and allow my holy helpmate (my wife) in the sacrament of Matrimony to cleanse me of my minor sins. What is more, it is through all the sacraments but specifically these two sacraments will allow me to adopt an armadillos’ defense against sin. To quote St. Paul in Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”

That is my challenge for you all today, became a “holy armadillo” to protect yourself from the devil’s plot and avoid committing peccadillos.

Thank you for sharing!