March 13, 2013

Getting Out of a Spiritual Slump

Have you ever felt lethargic about your spiritual life?  Have you ever lost the energy to go to church, read your Bible, or spend time in prayer?  Ever just not really cared?  Have you ever wondered why it all even matters when people who are not faithful seem to have good lives (Psalm 73)? 

If so, you are not alone.  Most people have been there at some point in their lives, as sloth ("lethargy for spiritual things") is considered a deadly sin.  Sadly, 70% of Catholics do not go to mass on a regular basis, which is evidence of the prevalence of sloth in our society.  

It can be a really, really tough sin to overcome.  Father Barron said that pride, envy, and anger often result in a collapse that leads you back to God.  However, sloth can make you stay right where you are without anything big to bring you back to God.

What is the antidote to sloth?  Father Barron said it's zeal.  It's having a sense of God's presence, an excitement about your faith, and an attitude that you want the Lord to send you wherever he wants you to go.   One of the things I just love about Father Barron is the fact that he keeps reminding us in his videos over and over and over again that we are so loved by God.  He constantly tells us that in this very moment of life we are being loved into existence.  Not only that, but God has a special plan for us, and he wants his love to flow through us so we can accomplish something big that only we can do!  A unique plan for every person.  


Just reflecting on that is so encouraging!  Read through the following quotes.  It's hard to not be filled with zeal for God, your faith, and your life when you reflect on these truths! 

"The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself.  Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for:  The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God.  This invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being.  For if man exists, it is because God has created him through love, and  through love continues to hold him in existence.  He cannot live fully according to the truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creation."
-CCC 27

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you."
- Jeremiah 1:5

"For I know the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your  welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope.
-Jeremiah 29:11

Father Barron said we need to work hard to determine what God's mission is for our lives.  Here are some great practical tips he gave that are helpful for overcoming a spiritual slump:

1. Pray -   We have to pray by not only asking for God to reveal his will for our lives, but also be open and ready to for his answer.  "When you call me, when you go to pray to me, I will listen to you.  When you look for me, you will find me.  Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, you will find me with you, says the Lord, and I will change your lot. (Jeremiah 29:12-13)

2. Read Scripture - Don't just read it to read though.  Read it and ask the question - what do you want me to do, Lord?  Again, be prepared for an answer! 

3. Spiritual Direction - Find a spiritual director who will guide and advise you through your struggles.  

4. Mass - Go to mass! That is the heart of our faith as Catholics.  Just put yourself in the presence of God and pray.  

5. Practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy on a regular basis.  The corporal work are feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, burying the dead, and giving alms.  The spiritual works of mercy are instructing the ignorant, admonishing the sinner, advising, counseling the doubtful, comforting the sorrowful, forgiving, bearing wrongs patiently, and praying for the living and the dead.  If you pick some of these and start practicing those on a regular basis, God will show you where you are meant to be in this world.  He will highlight your strengths and help you to see his plan more clearly.  

Thomas and I also feel like sometimes you really just have to fake it til you make it.  Make yourself go to daily mass.  Make yourself read the Bible even when you feel like there are a million other things you'd rather be doing.  Even if you are just doing it halfheartedly, God will meet you where you are and will bring you what you need.  Whenever I make myself go to Bible study when I don't feel like going, God sends me a message that really encourages me, and I end up being so glad that I made myself go. 

Also, just remember that ultimately we will not be satisfied unless we live out our lives to glorify God.  No matter what you try to fill your time with, fulfillment comes from him alone.


Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.” 
-St. Augustine 


What do you do to get yourself out of a spiritual rut?  What makes you feel full of zeal?


14 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh! I so needed this. I have been struggling with this for a while :-/ Thank you so much for this post! My husband and I are struggling to find a church in our area. I grew up Methodist and he crew up Assembly of God and it's hard to find a middle point. I know that if we did find a good church to go to it would really help.

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    1. I'll be praying for you, Jennifer! I definitely think it will help to find a good church to go to!

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  2. Educate. Educate. And even more education in your faith. When I was your age, and I didn't understand a teaching of the church, I would research it and pray for understanding. This, in turn, allowed me to grow and stay the course and tackle the next doubt or question that would cross my step in time. A stronger love and devotion sprung from those moments of "pressing on". Oh, it is so much easier to run away from doubt, but that's what satan wants, right?

    Then I would find (and still do) that for every three steps forward, there is a step back. With a solid foundation though, it is hard to look oneself in the mirror and deny and make an excuse. Not to say you don't want to.

    Now that I'm homeschooling my children in their faith...I am (tangibly) held accountable. Not only am I their parent, but I'm the teacher, and they are learning not only from what comes out of my mouth, but my actions as well.

    But for the really dry trip to the desert, it is okay. I love what St. John of God said how sometimes, we are to get so dried out (even Blessed Mother Teresa did), that when we do light our spiritual life on fire again, we are instant combustion of flaming love and devotion, burning more deeply than when we weren't a dry log.

    I also surround myself with friends who share the same faith. I turn to them, those who know it and understand it (the ups and downs of faith formation) and, still, only want me to be closer to God. I read once that those who love you will only want you closer to God. Amen.

    Great post, Caitlin!

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    1. Patty, you are so full of wisdom! I definitely agree that learning more about your faith is so crucial.

      And isn't that the truth about how we can become so much more full of enthusiasm and love after a spiritually dry period!

      Also, that is such a good thing to remember that those who love you want you to be closer to God.

      Thank you so much for sharing all your thoughts! :)

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  3. Thank you for this post! I've been feeling in kind of a slump lately, and went to confession last week and told my priest about it. He said, "it's easy to put God on the back burner because you have to reckon with him later, but you have to reckon with everyone else now!" Ha. I think I'll be rereading your post to try to help myself get away from this apathy.

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    1. Haha that's funny about the back burner, but so true! Hope you get out of that slump soon!

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  4. I absolutely love this reminder - God has put you in my life for a reason and I am so thankful to be reading this right now!

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    1. So glad you found it helpful Ali! I hope everything is going well for you! :)

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  5. This is such a good post. I feel like this a lot. I felt reenergized when I went to Mass a few weeks ago. And then I just hit a slump. Thanks for the reminder!

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    1. No problem Nilda! I'm thankful to Father Barron for the reminder! :)

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  6. I have definitely felt this way this Lent...thanks for the encouragement:)

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  7. reading other spiritual books also helps...watching ewtn or listening to catholic radio stations...finding silence in your life.

    My faith life was on fire for a period of about 15 years then the last 5 years no matter what--even though I do all of these things, its still a struggle.

    When times were especially tough, I find just saying the name "Jesus" or "Jesus help me" over and over again can bring peace.Or looking at spirtiual pictures such as images of the saints on a prayer card.

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing, Kim. I think all of that can be really helpful! I will pray for your faith to get back on fire again.

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  8. thanks for share...

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