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Spiritual Cripples

by Fr. Benedict Solomon, O.Praem.

 

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy… from the anxieties of daily life.”

If you ever break an ankle or a leg, and you have to use crutches, a lot of things change in your life. One of the first things you notice is that you can’t do something as simple as carrying an object from one place to another. After a day, you begin to realize that all of the weight and impact that was absorbed by that one ankle or leg has been redistributed to the rest of your body. You begin to feel pain in your hip, shoulders, wrists, elbows, and the knee of the good leg. You aren’t able to sleep well because moving the ankle causes pain, so you have to sleep whenever you can throughout the day.

“Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent…”

In the spiritual life, our faith and prayer are like our legs on the journey to heaven. If we don’t pray, and if our faith is weak, our nature has to pick up the extra weight, has to process reality on its own. If we don’t see the sufferings and trials in this life as opportunities to offer something to God, our minds become plagued by anger, resentment, sadness, and depression, and we give in to complaining and bitterness. Our mind and emotions are left to feel the pain of the full impact of these events. But with faith, they are manageable.

The life of prayer helps us absorb the difficulties of life without letting them hurt us. It helps us to be able to see clearly the events around us, to make right choices. Prayer and a strong faith enable us to carry the duties of this life tranquilly. Without them, we are so occupied with various things that we can’t manage to carry both our prayers and duties, so we end up leaving off our prayers. And this in turn makes it more difficult to carry out our duties.

Maybe we are carrying a lot of unnecessary things right now. Maybe we have the websites we check every day, the posts, the videos. They have become such a fixed part of our lives that we don’t realize what they’ve replaced, or what we could or should be doing instead: giving attention to our families, having conversations, spiritual reading, prayer.

As Advent begins, we prepare for the coming of the Divine Infant. Let us prepare for His coming by emptying ourselves of all of the unnecessary and extra things we have been carrying for so long—or at least since Lent. Like the Blessed Virgin Mary, we will be invited to carry the baby Jesus in our hearts—but will there be room? Will our arms be free? Will we have the strength to carry Him? Will our hearts be distracted or drowsy from the anxieties of life?

By the Virgin Mary’s prayers and example, may we meet this Advent with a vigilant heart, strong faith, and prayer.

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