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
- 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?
- 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.
- What motivates my actions? Particularly my sinful ones? Motive is huge. It’s the guard at the gate of the soul. Be honest.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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!
P.S. For more help in the spiritual life, check out the latest episode on my new podcast – The Art of Catholic!