099: Understanding Suffering through the Eyes of St. Paul

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It’s impossible to read St. Paul’s letters without coming across the topic of suffering. It’s everywhere.

And it’s because the question of suffering is constantly nagging us. Why do we suffer? What does it mean? If God loves us, how come we suffer?

Enter St. Paul.

His teaching is absolutely essential to the understanding of suffering and how it can become beautifully redemptive through the Cross of Christ.

So to unpack his amazing (very Catholic) teaching, I asked Dr. John Kincaid, an expert on St. Paul, to join me on the Art of Catholic.

In this episode we discuss:

  • The essence of the Catholic teaching on redemptive suffering
  • How what I was taught as a Protestant about suffering didn’t really understand St. Paul
  • How we can actually “rejoice” in our suffering along with St. Paul (Col. 1:24)
  • Why it’s okay to be weak (yep!)
  • The incredible meaning behind Paul’s discussion of “labor pains” in Galatians that will totally expand your view of redemptive suffering

This is an incredibly eye-popping conversation and it’s perfect timing for our liturgical time of the year, as well as what’s going on in the world.

God bless and enjoy!

Matthew

P.S. I was besieged with emails asking for more time to go through the FREE streaming of Catholic Mysticism & the Beautiful Life of Grace? So I’ve decided to leave it up a little longer! Join thousands of Catholics from all over the world and dive into what Christ calls the “one thing” necessary! CHECK IT OUT HERE!

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098: Spiritual Warfare & the Interior Life with Dan Burke

What if I told you the game has changed?

What if I told you that things have gotten so serious that there are often-ignored spiritual truths we have to be aware of or we’re not going to survive the current climate?

The reality is that we are at war.

The forces of darkness are trying to destroy your life. They’re trying to kill you. And it appears the battle has intensified, which means you have to be ready.

And that’s why I asked EWTN’s Dan Burke to come on to the Art of Catholic and discuss his new book Spiritual Warfare and the Discernment of Spirits.

But we’re not just talking about the warfare itself. We’re going to talk about how to deal with it and protect yourself from the Evil One.

Among other things we’ll discuss:

  • The current state of spirituality in the Church
  • Why we have to be aware of demonic forces
  • How the Ignatian rules of spirituality combat evil
  • The most important rule of them all
  • The complementarity of Carmelite & Ignatian spirituality
  • The importance of community

Spiritual warfare is real. And Dan knows what he’s talking about. This is a fascinating conversation that will open your eyes to the reality behind the spiritual curtain.

God bless!

Matthew

P.S. There’s still time to sign up for the FREE streaming of Catholic Mysticism & the Beautiful Life of Grace? Join thousands of Catholics from all over the world and be transformed this Lent! CHECK IT OUT HERE!

How To Identify & Crush Your Predominant Fault

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 spiritual master 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. (Trust me…He’ll answer.) Ask for grace and then listen. And realize it might not even be God talking directly to you. Just by examining the things that pre-occupy your thoughts, especially during prayer, you can get a good bead on your major weaknesses.

Think about what issues or thoughts distract you the most when you’re trying to focus and recollect yourself. These are often strong indicators of what you need to work on because they’re items or issues that have a strong hold on your attention.

2. Ask “What makes me happy or sad?” (Add extra penance for any joyful response involving parachute pants or Zubaz.) Obviously, not everything that causes these emotions is a fault, but they can be clues.

3. AskWhat motivates my actions?” (Focus particularly my sinful motives.) Motive is huge. It’s the guard at the gate of the soul. If you can constantly monitor your motive (and be honest about it) you’ll be far better equipped to fight the spiritual battle.

Identifying your true motive will help you uncover your predominant fault very quickly.

4. 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 when it comes to our weaknesses.

5. 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. One way to do this is to think about what you’re always bringing up in confession.

6. 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. Pray for grace to do what the Lord is asking of you.

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.”

The remaining question is “How do we kill it?”

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. Blowing through a rosary isn’t going to cut it. We’re talking about real communication with God.

Pray something like – “Lord, help me get rid of anything and everything in my life that keeps me from you.” And mean it. In fact, you should meditate on it. (Check out my free guide, 8 Ways To Jumpstart Your Prayer Life for help on this one. It’s also the topic of the first video in my free Lenten streaming series – Catholic Mysticism & the Beautiful Life of Grace.)

And remember that prayer is meant to lead to action. If you’re going to ask God for it, you’ve got to act on the knowledge that he imparts. That’s the whole point of the grace he gives.

2. 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.

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.”

And it’s better to do your penance now, rather than later. Why? Because the penance you do now has eternal merit due to the fact you’re making an act of the will. Anything that happens in purgatory doesn’t have merit because you have to suffer one way or the other.

Regardless of form, the penance you do should be “reparation for the fault and satisfaction for the penalty due it,” says Fr. Garrigou.

In other words, make the penance match the crime. (Don’t throw yourself into an Iron Maiden for 6 months because you lost patience yet again.)

Imposing a consequence for our repeated sin helps us to think twice before doing it again.

So there you go! Put these things into motion and you’re on your way to ridding yourself of your predominant fault!

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. If you haven’t yet signed up for the FREE Lenten streaming of Catholic Mysticism & the Beautiful Life of Grace, what are you waiting for? It’s FREE! Join thousands of Catholics from all over the world and be transformed this Lent! CHECK IT OUT HERE!