“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12)
The spiritual journey is not easy. This battling the world, the flesh and the devil, not to mention our own weaknesses, wears on us. The present difficulties in the Church wear on us as well. We get tired. Worldly attractions seem, well, attractive. We feel the pressure of abandoning our spiritual exercises to seek consolation in the world.
To counteract discouragement, a great spiritual guide, Father Faber, mentions two indispensable aids to keep us from falling back and thus to maintain our perseverance; and the first, recollection, is no doubt indispensable to counteracting the immense danger of worldliness. Prayer, as Saint Teresa of Avila says, is the beginning of contempt for the world.
The second indispensable aid is fidelity to our spiritual practices. There are times when we feel no consolation in our spiritual practices, and saying another Hail Mary, or reciting the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, or even going to Mass, seems almost dreadful. Yet when we remain faithful to our spiritual practices, and gut it out, this is when – in the darkness of pure faith – God can do his best work in our souls.
1. RECOLLECTION Father Faber states, p. 21, that “the necessity of it is so great that nothing in the whole of the spiritual life, love excepted, is more necessary.” Recollection, this deep awareness of God’s presence in our lives and souls, nurtured in many ways but surely through silent prayer and Eucharistic adoration, helps us to experience the “habitual presence of God” and thus to be attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit that the cares of the world so easily drown out; and
2. FIDELITY TO OUR SPIRITUAL PRACTICES Faber states that a main tactic of the enemy is to cause us to become lethargic as it pertains to our spiritual practices. Ultimately, we then fall away from them and return to the world. If we are going to make it through the desert – those times of dryness and discouragement which actually purify us – Faber states emphatically that we must remain faithful to our daily devotions and spiritual practices. He states that “these daily observances come to be a kind of condition of our perseverance. They..become the ordinary channels by which God pours His grace into our souls.” He states at page 24:
“We stand in need of cheerfulness to face the long outstretching desert that lies before us; and nothing keeps alive in us a holy joy more effectually than fidelity to grace and our appointed observances…In a word, fidelity is the raw material of perseverance, and to perceive this is to see that its importance cannot be exaggerated…Habitual laxity drives us to seek consolation from creatures and reenter the world….”
Recollection (prayerful awareness of God’s presence) and fidelity to our spiritual practices are two keys to maintaining the journey!
Tom Mulcahy, M.A.
Reference: Growth In Holiness by Father F.W. Faber
WHAT IS RECOLLECTION? According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “Recollection, as understood in respect to the spiritual life, means attention to the presence of God in the soul. It includes the withdrawal of the mind from external and earthly affairs in order to attend to God and Divine things. Active recollection may be acquired by our own efforts aided by the ordinary grace of God. Thus any devout soul can acquire the habit of thinking of God’s presence and of fixing attention upon Him and his Divine perfections. [Recollection is aided by] silence and solitude, according to our state of life, keeping in mind, at the same time, that one may be recollected amidst the duties of an active life” (as edited). It is imperative, therefore, that we spend some silent time alone with God each day, and that we try to stay recollected in God’s presence even when we are busy working or recreating.
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