In Times Of Confusion And 'Fog,' Head For Sacraments And The Holy Spirit Of Truth
By Michael H. Brown
[Adapted from Secrets of the Eucharist]
Let's face it, we live in a time when it gets hard to know the truth. There is the fog of war -- both military and spiritual. We can listen to commentators and reporters all we like, but discerning a situation is another matter. In fact, all the information tossed at us often makes things all the more clouded. Many are those who collect knowledge but remain far from the truth.
This is why the Church gives us the sacraments. They are the vehicle to the truth. And we need to develop them, to nurture them, in order to find out the true reality of a situation. The same is true in our personal lives. How should I handle my own life? What do I need to do with my personal spiritual matters, especially this Lent? What is most important, at this time, for my own spiritual advancement?
When there are questions that are too complicated to answer intellectually, we seek spiritual means, and in fact should seek such means in all circumstances. To get to the truth, to get answers to such questions, we pray to the Holy Spirit. We ask Him to review our entire lives and bring to mind the best way, for example, of approaching Confession, which then unlocks spiritual secrets. Or we do it in prayer. During a Rosary, we let the Blessed Mother take us through our personal histories and reveal anything hidden, anything obscure, anything forgotten of which we should repent. Most of us know the major sins, especially the Ten Commandments, but it's the more obscure sins, the "smaller" or venial sins, the sins against love, that often haunt us without our realizing it and obscure our vision.
When we clear these, our Communion (which brings us the most direct truth) becomes all the more dynamic.
What blocks us? What causes the fog to rise? We've often mentioned the sins of bickering, pride, and jealousy. Jealousy and pride are at the root of a tree that bears negativity and division -- bad fruits, fruits that bind and blind us, that make things foggier. The most common form of negativity is criticism. Exposing and criticizing a societal evil like abortion is one thing (we're called to expose something when we're certain it's from the evil spirit; we're called to correct society), but we must be very careful. If we point out failings without sensitivity and love, that's not correction; it's criticism. And when we criticize someone, we're judging and even attacking them. This is a sin against love.
We all know we're not supposed to judge (Matthew 7:1). To judge is to declare ourselves superior. To judge is to sound condescending. To judge is to somehow feel "above" the person or persons we're criticizing. When we're jealous, it's all the worse. We're virtually wishing negativity upon those we're envious of. And that's like sending a curse. It's a "fiery dart" (Ephesians 6:16). It blinds us to our own faults and hinders our Eucharistic union. When we receive Communion at the same time that we're harboring anger, unforgiveness, or jealousy, we're not able to fully communicate. We're not in union with Christ's love and humility. We're in a state of imperfection.
And any such blotch thwarts the Holy Spirit, which means, in whatever we are trying to discern, that it also blocks the truth. Many are those who have knowledge but who also have pride and thus are stymied in their efforts to truly discern a situation. They fail. They misfire. They miscalculate.
On the other hand, those who go to Confession, who take care of the lumber in their own eyes first, who seriously consider their own failings, who receive frequent Communion, and who work at humility, find available the fountain of discernment -- no matter what it is they need to discern and no matter how complicated.
[Resources: An Hour with Jesus, Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, New Scriptural Rosary]
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