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!

The One Sin You Must Crush This Lent

There is one thing that every one of us needs to focus upon and crush this Lent with no mercy.

What is it? Your predominant fault. “My what?”

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?

Well, even in a state of grace, each of us possesses a particular fault that is stronger than the rest. It could be lack of patience, fierce anger, deadly lust, admiration of skinny jeans…the list goes on.

Regardless of its identity, the predominant fault is a stone cold killer of the spiritual life.

Here’s how it works.

Grace in the soul tends to start by perfecting what is good in us. For example, if you’re already patient, grace can even help you charitably endure a 3 hour long elementary school Christmas concert.

From there, says Fr. Lagrange, grace radiates out to what is, shall we say, “less good,” in us. In other words, 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.

We’ve all seen it happen…even to ourselves.

You spent the entire summer cultivating 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 destroyed it all.

Suddenly you’re swimming in a sea of yellow.

All that time spent in the sweltering company of a Garden Weasel is rendered nil and dandelion “bouquets” begin appearing on your dining room table, courtesy of your children.

Of course, it’s not all your neighbor’s fault. The Devil is the real anti-gardener. 

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 disgruntled Chem-lawn guy, fertilizing the weeds so they can strangle and destroy the good plants.

And the weed that grows fastest is our predominant fault.

But while it’s incredibly deadly to the life of grace, few of us have actually identified our personal predominant fault (though we can easily identify it in others. Hmmm…)

Ironically, it’s often easier for earnest beginners in the spiritual life to name their main fault than those more advanced in the ways of God.

Those a little further along in the spiritual journey are often 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!”)

So with Lent fast approaching, it would be a good time to identify and set up a plan to crush our predominant fault. It’s the perfect time to do so.

And if you’re wondering how to identify your predominant fault and exactly how to crush it, don’t worry. 

In my next blog post, I’ll give you 6 ways to identify your predominant fault, as well as the three keys to crush it.

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!

Why You Don’t Feel God…(and what to do about it).

How many times have you wondered “Why don’t I feel God?”

It’s a natural question.

Created as a union of body and soul, it’s normal for a Christian to desire a sense of God’s presence. After all, we are “created through him and for him”, says St. Paul (Col 1:16).

Of course, this doesn’t mean we necessarily “feel” Him like we do the rest of the created world. In fact, that’s pretty rare.

Regardless, in order for there to be an authentic divine intimacy (and any chance of sensing him), we must have a plan of conquest. It’s what many spiritual writers call the “science of sainthood.”

And this plan, this “science of sainthood”, is necessary because because like a buried treasure, God is hidden within you. But interestingly, St. John of the Cross doesn’t say we seek the treasure of intimacy with God so as to expose it.

Rather, the spiritual treasure hunter “should secretly penetrate its hiding place, and when he finds it, he too is hidden as it is.”

It’s almost like that old game of “sardines” you used to play in high school. One person hides, and when another person finds him, they join in the hiding until there’s only one person left who hasn’t found the hiding spot.

(That last person was always pretty lonely:)

But there’s a twist, says Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary of Magdalen. In hiding with God, we actually reveal him. Why? How?

Well, the biggest reason he was “hidden” in the first place was mostly due to the clutter and junk in our lives that covered him up.

We hide him by our superficial distractions and focus upon worldly affairs.

But in the process of finding him, we clear out the clutter and cut through the distractions. To put it another way, in turning away from ourselves, we find God, hiding with and in Him.

So as we approach Advent, focus on removing the junk and clutter that keeps you from sensing the presence of God.

“Forgetting everything and withdrawing from all creatures, hide yourself,” says St. John of the Cross, “until you find Him in the intimate seclusion of your spirit. Then…in secret you will hear Him and love Him and enjoy Him…above all that tongue and sense can understand” (Spiritual Canticle I, 9).

God bless!

Matthew

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