How To Identify And Crush Your Predominant Fault!

Cue the Darth Vader theme music. It’s time to conclude our discussion of the greatest spiritual obstacle few of us want to dwell upon (or even know about).

In my last post I forced us all to consider our Big Kahuna of sin, our Grand Poobah of iniquity – our Predominant Fault.

It’s important because if we don’t fight it, we’re in big spiritual trouble. We’ll have no fertile interior life, which means no real spiritual growth. So let’s turn our attention to how Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange says we can identify, and then crush, this killer of souls.

6 Ways To Identify Your Predominant Fault

  1. Ask God to show you. (He’ll answer…the question is will we listen?) Ask for grace and then examine the things that pre-occupy your thoughts, especially during prayer. What issues or thoughts distract you the most when you’re trying to focus and recollect yourself?
  1. Ask “What makes me happy or sad?” (Add extra penance for any joyful response involving parachute pants or zubaz.) Not everything that causes these emotions is a fault, of course, but they are clues.
  1. What motivates my actions? Particularly my sinful ones? Motive is huge. It’s the guard at the gate of the soul. Be honest.
  1. What do others think is my Predominant Fault? If you’re married, you probably don’t need to ask. Your spouse has already told you (if your teenager hasn’t). If you’re unmarried or your spouse thinks you’re always totally awesome, ask a trusted friend or a spiritual director. Regardless, others are more objective than we are with ourselves.
  1. Ask yourself “What tempts me most?” “What is my weak area?” The Devil certainly knows, and is probably squeezing that pressure point pretty often. Pinpoint it.
  1. Finally, Fr. Lagrange says that “in moments of true fervor the inspirations of the Holy Ghost ask us for the sacrifice of this particular fault.” If God is asking you do something like this, there’s a reason.

So there you go – how to discover your Predominant Fault. But as GI Joe said back in the 80s cartoon, “knowing is only half the battle.” How do we kill it? (A phrase that sounds so deliciously un-PC.)

3 Ways To Kill The Predominant Fault

You can’t combat your predominant fault without a healthy interior life. So here are the keys.

  1. Sincere prayer. You gotta want it. Pray something like – “Lord, get rid of
    anything in my life that keeps me from you.” And mean it. (Check out my free guide, 8 Ways To Jumpstart Your Prayer Life for help on this one.)8 Ways To Jumpstart Your Prayer Life Cover Image
  1. Examination of Conscience. Don’t just think about it. Write down how many times you fell to this fault. It’s like listing the checks written out of your bank account. Falling to your predominant fault is like a big withdrawal from your spiritual savings account. You have to keep track so you can make a matching deposit. How? Look at number 3.
  1. Do some penance. (Or as Fr. Lagrange puts it – “Impose a sanction.”) No pain, no gain” is just as true for spiritual workouts as it is in the sweaty world of Zumba. “This penance,” says Fr. Lagrange, “may take the form of prayer, a moment of silence, an exterior or interior mortification.”

Regardless of form, it is to be “reparation for the fault and satisfaction for the penalty due it.” In other words, make the penance match the crime. Doing so helps us start to think twice before doing it again.

Okay! We’re on our way to ridding ourselves of the Predominant Fault! Wooohooo! But remember, it’s going to be hard. Your predominant fault doesn’t want to be unmasked and lose its hold on your life. But if you turn to Christ to help, you can do it.

Quoting St. Augustine, the Council of Trent declared, “God never commands the impossible; but in giving us His precepts, He commands us to do what we can, and to ask for the grace to accomplish what we cannot do.” Now git-r-dun!

God bless!

Matthew

P.S. For more help in the spiritual life, check out the latest episode on my new podcast – The Art of Catholic!

011: Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic – David Currie

catholic_FINAL_150Paul got knocked off his high horse (maybe).

Augustine heard a voice say “take and read.”

David Currie got a catalog. The Lord moves us to conversion in mysterious ways.

If you’re thinking “a catalog doesn’t seem like the most interesting of manners in which to convert”, you’re wrong. I love this conversion story. I mean, how many convert stories have you heard where a guy who really, really wants to become Catholic is refused entry?

And David Currie is not only the author of some very popular books (e.g. Rapture: The End Time Error That Leaves The Bible Behind and Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic), he is one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met.

51eyP5iYJIL._AA160_

This man loves the Catholic faith like few others. You can literally hear it in his voice.

So sit back and enjoy the beautiful, heartfelt, often humorous journey of one man (and his family) into the arms of Mother Church.

God bless!

Matthew

8 Ways To Jumpstart Your Prayer Life Cover ImageAll who have been lost were lost because they did not pray.” St. Alphonsus Liguori.

Don’t be lost! Grab your FREE copy of my quick guide to deeper prayer 8 Ways To Jumpstart Your Prayer Life! 

It’s an easy step-by-step summary of the spiritual giants of the Church designed to help you rocket to God!

Don’t forget to head over to iTunes and leave the show a ratingDoing so helps promote the podcast and gets Catholic material in front of people who may never otherwise be exposed to the faith. Thank you!!

 

 

The Biggest Obstacle To Spiritual Growth You’ve Never Heard Of

I’ve got one. You’ve got one. We’ve all got one, but we don’t like to talk about it…if we even know it exists.

Thistle field (dry burdock)

What am I talking about? Your Predominant Fault. “My what?” you exclaim. You heard me…or rather you heard one of the greatest spiritual theologians of the 20th century, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.

What in the world is a predominant fault?

Even in a state of grace, each of us possesses a particular fault that is stronger than the rest. Maybe it’s lack of patience, fierce anger, deadly lust, admiration of skinny jeans…whatever. Regardless of its identity, the predominant fault is a stone cold killer of the spiritual life.

Grace in the soul tends to start by perfecting what is good in us. For example, if you’re already patient, grace gives you the ability to even endure a 3 hour long elementary school Christmas concert. From there, says Fr. Lagrange, that grace radiates out to what is, shall we say, “less good”, in us. It starts to work more on our natural weaknesses and faults.

Our predominant fault, however, acts as a major obstacle to that pattern of purification. It attacks the work of grace in a similar manner to that of weeds seeking to take over a manicured lawn.

You can have the best-looking grass on the block and in mere days one dandelion seed from your neighbor’s Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom yard can cause disaster. Suddenly you’re in a sea of yellow. All lawn and garden prowess is rendered nil and dandelion “bouquets” begin appearing on your dining room table, courtesy of your children.

It’s not all because of you or your neighbor, of course.

The Devil is the anti-gardener. Old “black thumb.” As Christ says in the Parable of the Sower, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.” (Mt 13:24-25). And then the Evil One continues to come round like a renegade Chem-lawn guy, fertilizing the weeds so they can strangle and destroy the good plants.

While the predominant fault is incredibly deadly to the life of grace, few of us have identified it in ourselves. (Though for some reason we can easily and often identify it in others. Hmmm…)

Ironically, it’s often easier for earnest beginners in the spiritual life to discover and name their main fault than those more advanced in the ways of God. Those a little further along in the spiritual journey are sometimes quite adept at covering their faults with the facade of virtue. (“I’m not impatient! I just admire punctuality!” or “I’m not angry, just righteously indignant!”)

As I hope you’re beginning to understand, this is a really important topic. So in my next post, I’ll give you 6 ways to identify your predominant fault, as well as the three keys to crush it.

So that you can get started, though, I’m going to leave you with the first key to its identification. Number 1 is pretty much a “no-brainer.” The first thing to do is ask God to show to you your predominant fault. He’ll be faithful to do so, but it might not be enough. Not because of Him, mind you, but because of us. That’s where the rest of the keys come in. Stay tuned!

God bless!

Matthew

P.S. Don’t forget to grab a FREE copy of my guide to deeper prayer: “8 Ways To Jumpstart Your Prayer Life.” It’s simple wisdom from the saints designed to launch you to new heights of holiness.