In this week’s chat we discussed various topics: Children who leave the Church; what does it mean to live “in the world”? and even a psychiatrist’s joke.
Here are our discussion questions for this chat.
1. In Matthew 6:24, Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
2. Likewise in James 4:4 we read: “whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” And in 1 John 2:15 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.” What is “the world” in this context? Are we not supposed to try to find the good in the world?
3. How does ‘lukewarmness’ fit into this picture?
4. Does God not want us to have fulfilled desires? How does God as our ultimate desire help us stay focused on the desires that matter most?
5. Is it possible to be distracted by having too many projects and pursuits in one’s life? How about too many church projects, good as each may be? How can we decide which ones God wants?
What Is “Holy Indifference?”
Rebecca: St. Francis de Sales refers to the “world” mainly as a distraction from loving God. That is why many of the early saints became hermits — to devote more time and attention to prayer, to God, rather than to worldly interests. It makes sense. And his simile — I wonder if Francis Tompson (author of The Hound of Heaven) read St. Francis de Sales.
Denise: The distinction would be …being in the world and being of the world.
Louise: I have been totally absorbed in the reality of holy indifference.
Rebecca: In Thompson’s long poem, however, it is God who is pursuing man — to Love him and get a love response from him. Man who is fleeing.
Denise: Ah! a thought itself to ponder. Holy indifference.
Louise: De Sales is shining a very bright and glaring light on that for me these past few days.
Rebecca: What’s been happening, Louise?
Denise: God does pursue us. I’ve not read this poem.
Louise: So much is happening and yet time seems to stand still.
Rebecca: You seem to understand “holy indifference” very well, Denise. It definitely has nothing to do with “lukewarmness.” Or the passivity that we, today, understand with the word.
Rebecca: Interesting — how we perceive time.
Louise: Holy indifference is a difficult concept to grasp for some and even more difficult to embrace if you do.
Rebecca: Chronos vs kairos.
Louise: To love God so much and exclusively is not very difficult when we receive such sweet consolation in uniting our will with His.
Louise: But to not only accept and tolerate the difficult- but to embrace it/ love it, simply because it is His will.
Rebecca: Louise, one (or more) of our previous discussions dealt with “holy indifference.” It has nothing to do with a do-nothing attitude. It has all to do with complete submission to God’s Will — definitely not easy. Only possible by Grace. The Saints did it, not all of their lives, but finally . . .
Denise: There is no other way! and so through suffering.
Louise: And to love him – giving all – it no longer matters if it brings pain or sorrow / it’s all His will and that’s all that matters.
Louise: He shows us precisely how we are to love Him best – on the cross – oh, my heart!
Being “In the World”
Denise: The latter of question 2: What is “the world” in this context? Are we not supposed to try to find the good in the world?
Louise: Can I do that?
Rebecca: You have the idea, Louise — very clearly. But do I detect some self-abnegation because you are struggling with a purgation this side of the great divide between Church Militant and Church Triumphant — in THIS life?
Louise: The “world” being the people in it. The ones that are most difficult to love.
Louise: Oh yes, indeed, Rebecca.
Denise: I believe the world in this context refers to all the things, money, fame, position, etc. that offer us joy. Oh! I had not thought of the world being the people in it.
Louise: Things don’t really test me. People do.
Rebecca: Still, at least one important way of loving God is through loving THIS created world, His creation, PEOPLE, beauty, everything Good in this world!
Denise: Thank you.
Rebecca: Jesus “pitched his tent among us” to manifest God’s love first and foremost for PEOPLE.
Louise: Christ told Peter to take of His sheep. Nothing more. We cannot change people, only God can.
Sr Jennifer: I think one should be in the world and not of the world.
Sr Jennifer: unless you choose to leave the world, like we do.
Denise: God’s grace will help us to.
Rebecca: Louise. I’m a psychiatrist. There’s a joke — you know — something like: How many . . . does it take to change a light bulb. One answer is five: one to hold the bulb and four to turn the ladder. Well with the psychiatrist the answer is: ONE, but the bulb really has to WANT to change.
Louise: I have struggled so long to do more that is in my power to do. There is this separation – this holy indifference that allows you to not let things that are not your “job” get you all twisted up and worried.
Denise: Agree. God calls people. I like St Bernadette quote: “My job is to inform people not to convince.”
Louise: We weep for those who won’t see, but it is not for us to decide – we can just hold the flashlight and hope.
Rebecca: Louise, do you have a spiritual director? May I guess: your children or your spouse?
Louise: I do have a spiritual director-a very good priest.
Louise: He points out that it is my duty to not participate or celebrate an illicit union outside the church. I pray I will never be faced with that. You have to be on fire with love for God to resist becoming lukewarm in how urgent it is to uphold some of the churches and Christ’s teachings. I pray for strength.
Rebecca: That is a holy suffering, Louise. AND the kind that makes me wonder how those souls who are in the presence of the Beatific Vision can be completely happy if there are loved ones on earth still not responding to God’s loving invitations to love God.
Children Abandoning the Faith
Louise: Three teenage sons – so hard to watch them moving away from God. I can rest easy knowing that I’ve done the best I could to bring them to God. What happens going forward…is God’s will.
Rebecca: https://helpthemreturn.com/game-plan Brandon Vogt is likely a good resource. Pray like St. Monica, St. Augustine’s Mother, and all will be well.
Denise: Remembering God loves them more than we do!
Denise: And our prayers, for children, will bring down graces to their soul. So, we should never cease to pray for them.
Louise: I am beginning to grasp the reality of the holy indifference that has been a gradual letting go for me over the past four years.
Denise: I just thought of Ben who has spoken often of seeing the fruits of parents or grandparents’ prayers over their children.
Denise: Question 3: How does lukewarmness fit into this picture?
Taylor: As a viewer of this chat, I would like to say that all of you are much too hard on yourselves. We are human, not angels, not saints, and we try to do what is right and the best we can. If God had wanted to make us all angels living in the Garden of Eden forever, he could have. But he didn’t. It is not fair for being punished for being what we are – very flawed, weak, but trying to be good, human beings.
How We Deal with Unfairness
Louise: We must keep Christ in front of us – first. All else follows in perfect order if we do.
Denise: The Lord knows our hearts, our struggles our everything. We are never alone. And he will help us when we ask, but in his way, not ours.
Louise: Fair? It has nothing to do with fair. Was Christ’s sacrifice for us fair? Certainly not.
Louise: How we deal with unfairness, pain, suffering – all unfair – that determines if we can be a Saint.
Rebecca: Thanks for commenting Taylor. I get the drift of what you are saying. God made Adam and Eve with free will. Free will is necessary in order to Love. You cannot be forced to love. The angels had free will. SOME of them turned against God. They are what we call “devils.”.
Rebecca: Who is being punished for what we are? That part I’m not sure I get.
Louise: The tremendous grace that is poured down on those who do not waste the suffering!
Louise: Never waste your pain and suffering – a gift you can give to Christ – uniting us on the cross.
Taylor: We are punished for being weak, not being able to live up to the standards of perfection, like resisting temptation, like Jesus did. We simply don’t have the strength; we are not like him and never will be.
Rebecca: Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden were HUMANS. Even when they were expelled from the Garden — forced by BAD choices — instead of walking with God, HIDING from him, because they knew they’d disobeyed him — even then God went with them.
Denise: Hello, Taylor! Thank you for commenting on what you are perceiving in our talk. Sr Susan, who normally moderates and keeps us on track, is ill and not able to be here tonight. We are studying the St Francis de Sales book, Treatise on the Love of God.
Knowing Your Are Weak
Rebecca: Taylor, I fail every day. I fail even at things that once were easy; I am weak and also suffering from multiple medical issues. But KNOWING you are weak is an important step toward ASKING FOR HELP.
Denise: You are correct, Taylor, we don’t have the strength by ourselves.
Rebecca: And he sent His Only Son, Jesus, to redeem them/us.
Taylor: But, Rebecca, God didn’t give them the tools to resist temptation in the first place, so they were starting out with a bad poker hand, and could not win.
Louise: We deserve nothing – we beg at the foot of the cross for God to show mercy and beg him to show us how to love perfectly.
Rebecca: We can never become the perfect God-Man; but by GRACE we can become more and more like Jesus.
Louise: Oh, yes, he did give us the tools. Turn to Him.
Louise: In total surrender and in total adoration.
Taylor: Thank you all for your time and comments, I appreciate it – Good Night.
Louise: I love our Lord Jesus Christ and His church with all my heart! Good night all.
Denise: Today at Mass, it was so beautiful! the priest’s homilies lately have been so to the point, teaching. Good night. Taylor! Hope to see you again.
Denise: Good night, Louise. Hope to see you again soon.
Rebecca: Please do come back, Taylor. And keep searching. I started out simply seeking THE TRUTH — as a child of about 9. I had a rough start too. Not as rough as some of my patients, but certainly challenging. God is very, very generous. That is just who he IS. Sometimes — OFTEN, even — we do not FEEL that way. He is LOVING AND JUST. The Church is a kind of “repository of grace,” admittedly in the hands of flawed Humans.
Denise: our current priest is leaving in June, he will then cover at various parishes.
Denise: Just thought of Bishop Robert Barron’s series Catholicism.
Rebecca: Good night, Taylor. Good night, Denise. Again, we are dawdlers — or I am anyway. Glad you had a good Mass experience today. And the last few weeks. Let’s pray that the next priest meets the needs of the parishioners, too.
Denise: Yes, thank you Rebecca. God bless you. In my prayers. Goodnight.
Denise: I am too a dawdler.
Rebecca: Great series: Catholicism. I bought — when I had a halfway decent income — the whole series, including the book and teaching materials — to share. Lost disk ONE (not returned); replaced it. Offered to lead a “program” based on it. Never happened. In God’s good time . . . Good night. Blessings!
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