Be Natural

Be natural with God your Father. It’s easy to feel ashamed of our weaknesses, defects, and sins. How often do we fall in a day — or even within an hour, right? But God is closest to the sinners, even to those struggling to recover and begin again. It is precisely when we feel most unworthy and thus afraid of God in prayer that we need to turn to Him. Speak to Him naturally, as a child who stumbles repeatedly on the ground, showing Him your scrapes and wounds. God is merciful and just. His mercy heals. And because He is just, he accords us what is due to a creature plagued by faults and failures.

Tell Him, “My God, My Father, I am struggling. Help me because I do not know how to help myself. I am ashamed, but you do not judge. I want to be holy, but I can’t seem to be. My Father, please accompany me. Teach me how to pray.” And even if no words pour out your soul, you can simply gaze at His Son on the Cross. Mary, too, who stands at the foot of the Cross will accompany you. She is a creature, too, like you and me. She knows exactly what her children need and will never delay whispering to the ear of her Son, “They have no wine.” Then you must do your part. “Do whatever He tells you.”

When I Am Weak

When you’ve had a certain amount of “success” in your struggle for holiness, it’s easy to credit to yourself the accomplishments you have made or the progress you’ve achieved. Often, it’s this momentary lapse that causes the great misery of a downfall. Because the truth is, man cannot do it on his own. The struggle for holiness is not an autonomous process. While our freedom means our decisions are our own, we do no move forward simply by our own feet. 

You see, the old voice will always whisper to you about your past. It’s his way of weakening your trust in God and sowing seeds of doubt in your identity. This old voice would usually resurface when you face an onslaught of external issues that trigger many of the dysfunctions you previously thought had been buried by your efforts towards a more Christian life. One of the easiest temptations offered by the enemy is to tell you the old voice was right all along. You weren’t made to be a saint; your past life is the truth. And the common response is that we buckle under the pressure of our past, thinking maybe we can accommodate one more mistake, indulge in a few more days of our desires until we finally lose interest.

A big mistake is simply thinking we have to respond to this crisis only in spiritual approaches. We brush aside the need for us to address the human aspect of our struggle. We forget to care for ourselves because we fear it’s a sign of weakness. Given the climate in our culture wars, we might even believe we just have to deal with the suffering and accept it wholeheartedly. After all, others are suffering more. God only wants us to suffer, it seems.

But that doesn’t make sense, right? God, our Father, would be the last Person who would want to see us suffer. The problem is we tend to spiritualize everything and forget about our humanity, too. And in the face of the truth that God became Man, this becomes a challenge that only extends our misery when confronted by our weaknesses. We invalidate our sufferings because we have been conditioned to believe, well, others are suffering more. Just deal with it, right? But this only de-personalizes and leaves no room for love, for the truth of God’s Sacred Heart.

Let us pray to cope. But let us not forget we need to care for ourselves, too. If this means reaching out to someone and unloading our burdens to these people, then there is no shame in that. There is more courage in stripping ourselves of our “holy” defenses and being vulnerable in front of our Lord, and finally admitting, yes, we need Help.

Confusion All Around

Manila

30 May 2021

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Dear C,

It can get a little confusing, this whole endeavor. Everywhere around me I see things that are contrary to what is true. It’s especially unnerving when it comes at the expense of Church teaching. I see Catholic and Christian homosexual men and women who claim to follow Christ but who still lead active homosexual lifestyles. They would share on their social media pages photos of the Blessed Virgin Mary, eagerly explaining their devotion to her, visiting her in her shrines, while all the while actively promoting Pride month. I see posts from members of the LGBT community — prayers, quotes, testimonies of their faith — while claiming that since Christ does not judge they are free to test how malleable their bodies are, free to support bills that progress gender ideologies.

But it doesn’t just happen among homosexual men and women. Heterossexuals who are Catholics, too, align themselves with these ideas and propositions. They believe it to be a form of charity, an expression of compassion. Some of them are even part of the clergy. 

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Do Not Be Ashamed

You struggle in believing God is your Father. But there is no truth more tangible than this. He is the same as in the story of the prodigal son. God is full of mercy—a lavish mercy. There is no other person who loves you as unconditionally as God does. 

God’s love does not retreat at the sight of your sins. He doesn’t love you any less for your failures. This love does not waver or weaken. It is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. His Great Love does not change.

So let God hold you and your shame. At our most unsightly, God’s gaze is the only one that matters. It’s the gaze that His Son, Jesus, gave on the Cross. It’s the gaze that Mary, our Mother, wants us to look for. It’s the gaze that has proven reliable by the saints who struggled for holiness. It’s the gaze that patiently waits for yours.

God loves us even when we are ashamed of what little love we can give. God loves even the morsels we so feebly give. He wants us to be better, of course. He wants us to be Holy. But take confidence that God will never abandon you to look for Him. He has already found you.