Where Senses Fail
Without love, life would be miserable. Thankfully, we always have the love of God — every minute that we are alive, and whether it is tangible to us or not.
The paths of life can sometimes be so dark that no light seems to permeate the blackness of sorrow, sickness, or despair. Yet, the light of faith can illuminate where all else fails, leading us ever onward and upward.
This is because where senses fail, where the body knows only pain and sorrow, where the heart is broken, the intellect can submit to the guiding force of faith. “Now faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not.” (Hebrews 11:1) It is through the eyes of faith we see always see God’s love for us. It is right to hope in times of darkness; for we have been promised the comfort of the Holy Spirit, and know the salvation that has been bought for us at a great price (cf. 1 Peter 1:18-19) because God loves us.
Few times are so painful and dark as those times when we sin grievously, thus blocking the light of God’s grace in our souls. It is then that we fail to love ourselves. It is then that the enemy enters into our path with his plan to sabotage our journey.
When we sin, we lose our vision, and become weak. Seeing our weakness, the enemy takes advantage and presses his whispers into our thoughts: “It is of no use — I cannot fight these temptations; it makes no difference — I have been battling this for years; it is too late. The damage is already done. It is not so bad — I’ve done this before and nothing happened. I will just go to confession afterwards. It is all in vain, anyway, because I don’t really want to stop. I am hopeless.”
The enemy torments us relentlessly. We, too, torment ourselves. Suffering both in body and in spirit, we submit to despair, sometimes falling deeper into sin. Sometimes, we choose the pleasure of the flesh over the battle to claw our way back out of the pit of sin.
“And he heard my prayers …”
This is the best time to remember that we have help in getting back out of that darkness. We are not alone. In the words of the psalmist David, “And he heard my prayers, and brought me out of the pit of misery and the mire of dregs.” (Psalm 40:2)
Other times, we attribute too much power to ourselves, believing that though our own will and discipline, we can achieve success against the allure of sin. Again, we are not alone.
It is important to remember that we not only fight against the flesh and the world, but also the devil. Our battles include those of another realm beyond what is seen by earthy eyes and detected by the senses. “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
We must not let the pain of the flesh, the scorn of the world, or the weight of a broken spirit keep us down. Let the devil keep to himself with his whispers of discouragement; only our worst enemy would give us such thoughts as to keep away from our Father when we need Him most.
The Sweet Yoke
True, the path is uphill, at times like a mountain; but we must believe that we do have the strength to take that mountain, for as Jesus promised us, “My yoke is sweet, and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:30) One meaning of this assurance is that, free from the bondage of repeated grievous sin, the virtuous man finds that the trials of life are sweet, and the burdens of suffering — with their redemptive value — are light.
To embrace this virtuous life, it is entirely necessary to resolve to avoid grievous sin. It is easier to stay free from grievous sin than to extract oneself from its grip; easier to admit our weakness, and even our desire to sin, begging assistance in that regard, than to deny those desires and pretend they don’t exist. It’s easiest of all when these decisions are made swiftly, with finality, and with total, uncompromising resolve to stay on the narrow path. “Be subject therefore to God, but resist the devil, and he will fly from you.” (James 4:7)
A wise priest once encouraged me, “A saint is not the man who never falls; a saint is the man who gets back up after his every fall.” The success of our journey is much about getting back up over and over again. When we fall into sin, we must make the effort to stand back up, repentant.
Renewing our resolve not to sin, we choose to trust in God’s unending love for us and His all-forgiving mercy. “For thou, O Lord, art sweet and mild: and plenteous in mercy to all that call upon thee.” (Psalm 86:5) He desires for us to experience temporal happiness as well as eternal happiness, and this can only be obtained by walking the path of virtue.It is on this virtuous path that we can be most brightly guided by the light of faith, and most steadily believe in the unending love that God has for us.
“Love One Another”
We also have the love of one another: remembering that we all fall, we all sin, and we are all in need of God’s forgiveness. “For all have sinned and need the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Let’s make this journey easier for one another, “For which cause comfort one another; and edify one another, as you also do.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) In this same way, we can be a reflection of God’s love to others in darkness, as they may at times be for us.
With Advent only one month away, we will find ourselves in literal darkness with the days much shorter and the nights longer. Remembering that there is guiding light both in faith and in love, and that we are commanded to be a light unto the world, the penitential season of advent and the darkness of impending winter will be less miserable and hold a more tangible hope for us all when we encourage one another.
One of the greatest things love can accomplish is something good for another; let’s help one another, through encouragement, climb out of the pit of grievous sin and back onto the virtuous path. It is there we will find sweetness and joy. “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.” (John 13:35)