I don’t know if you have ever seen the movie: “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Spoiler alert…there is a moment in the movie when Clarence tells George Bailey, “You really have had a wonderful life.” The main character George Bailey lived a life, not thinking of himself, but only thinking of others. By helping others to fulfill their dreams and get through hard times, his own dreams of travelling the world and getting out of Bedford Falls were dashed. We can say that he lived a life of generosity and self-sacrifice. However, there was a moment in the movie when George Bailey was wondering about the value of his life…but in the end…spoiler alert…he realizes that his life is beautiful…because he loved.
We know that when we meet the Lord face to face, He will ask us how we have loved. George Bailey did not sit back and watch people suffering saying, “oh well! What can I do about it?” No! He took action! He loved the people in the town, and helped them in charity. What about us? Our Lord says, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).
When we think of laziness, we think of having problems getting things done because we just don’t feel like it! Our homework, chores, and other projects are so easy to leave to the last minute and then we end up either panicking or losing out on practicing virtue. It is also possible to become weary in our spiritual exercises as well since there can be times of darkness and aridity, confusion and desolation. In the beginning, we are so used to finding happiness and joy in our prayer on an emotional level, but now, spiritual exercises can seem dull and boring. It is almost equivalent to a child who would prefer candy and chocolate to healthy food like carrots and potatoes. The candy gives us consolation…we are happy eating candy! But when we eat too much candy, what happens? We get sick! If God constantly gives us consolations, our spiritual life will not grow, our virtue will not grow and our love will not grow…we will be spiritually sick! When we do not feel the presence of God when we pray, it is time to rise up out of ourselves in trust and faith and see this as an opportunity to grow in love and trust! The Lord is with you when you pray. He is always with you! When we pray, God is speaking to us. Sometimes He might just want us to listen. Try exercises in listening. Take heart that God knows our needs even before we ask Him!
Many times, we approach prayer and other spiritual exercises in order for us to “get something out of it,” instead of just being with the one who loves us totally and completely. When we do not sense that we are “getting something out of it,” it is easy to give up on prayer. One of the hardest things to experience is not being able to see the fruit of our prayers…we question whether they are really being answered? The truth is God always answers our prayers…the answer might be Yes, No or not yet. The “Not yet” response can be painful…it is hard to wait on the Lord but God is calling us to persevere in our prayer…if we do wait on the Lord, we will be rewarded for our patience.
It is easy to desire to satisfy our own will rather than the will of God. As St. John of the Cross says, “Many of the beginners want God to desire what they want, and they become sad if they have to desire God’s will.” How free we would be if we just desired God’s will…however, our natural tendency is to want to turn away from the Lord in mistrust and sometimes anger. Sloth causes sadness in spiritual exercises and attacks joy in our souls. What can we do when we are experiencing spiritual sloth?
- We can ask the Lord to help us accept and love His will at every moment. PTLA: Praise The Lord Anyway! If things do go your way, praise the Lord!
- Try to pray even if you do not feel like it! Even speaking the name of Jesus in reverence and love is a prayer!
- Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your prayer. It is so important to ask the Holy Spirit to guide and direct your prayer!
- Perhaps have a sacred image with you when you pray. Looking at a crucifix or a statue can really help focus your mind and heart better on the Lord. Sometimes looking at an image can really help make your prayer more fruitful.