I Am Torn Between Contradictory Emotions:
What Can I Do? (Part II of II)
Editor’s Note: In Part I, we looked at the battle raging in the world since the beginning of time up until now, and the first thing we can about these circumstances, though our emotions may be contradictory. Today we will examine the second thing we can do. Here is the question we are examining, from one of our readers:
Dear Father John, In my daily prayer, I cannot help but feel myself torn between two emotions. One is the heartfelt desire to trust Jesus totally as I know he is present with me. The other is a human fear about the rise of demonic extremist Islam and the decline of our Judeo-Christian culture. I want to experience peace but so many current cultural trends are counter-Christian and our civilization has become so Godless. I feel the desire to simply run away from the mess we are morally in but something also tells me that in moments like these, those of faith are called to be spiritual warriors, despite the uphill battle. Do you have any thoughts on this? Thank you and God bless you.
Discern Your Mission
In the second place, each of us needs to be faithful to what God asks of us as regards to engaging in the Church’s mission. The Holy Spirit is the architect of that mission, and he inspires each one of us to contribute in a unique way to that mission. He may be inspiring you to become a prayer warrior on behalf of the persecuted Christians; he may be inspiring you to get involved in an organization that serves those Christians more directly; he may be inspiring you to put your personal and professional talents more directly at the service of infusing Christian values back into popular culture; he may be inspiring you to work locally, or on a bigger scale. There are as many possibilities as there are Christians.
Discovering what God is asking us to do, personally, is part of spiritual discernment. It takes great humility. Although your love is such that you feel a desire to save the entire world, that is not your job – that’s Christ’s job. You must discover what your job is, and do it with all the love and grace you can muster. That’s what it means to be a saint. And if each one of us were to faithfully follow the call to be a saint, then indeed the world would be inundated with grace.
While you engage in this process of discernment, keep in mind a warning. Sometimes the enemy of our souls will use our spiritual sensitivity to distract us. We become so engrossed by the large scale tragedies that the news keeps in view that we lose sight of what the Lord is asking of us here and now. We become complainers and alarmists. We become obsessed with the evil trends and lose sight of the good we can do day by day. We almost become paralyzed by the big picture, without realizing it. Watch out for that temptation.
On that note, I would like to close with a quotation from a short speech given by Pope Benedict XVI. He reminds us to choose joy even while there is so much suffering in the world, because if we don’t, we just become part of the problem. I hope it encourages you as much as it has encouraged me:
“Now, someone might ask: is it legitimate to be so happy when the world is so full of suffering, when so much darkness and such great evil exist? Is it legitimate to be so arrogant and joyful? The answer cannot but be “yes”! Because in saying “no” to joy we render no service to anyone, we would only make the world darker. And anyone who does not love himself is unable to give anything to his neighbour, he cannot help him, he cannot be a messenger of peace. We know this from faith and we see it every day: the world is beautiful and God is good. And because he became man and came to dwell among us, because he suffered and lived with us, we know once and for all, and every day: yes, God is good and it is good to be a person. We live from this joy and starting from this joy we also try to bring joy to others, to repel evil and to be servants of peace and reconciliation.” (Address of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, 2 August 2012)
Art: Holy Spirit detail of Ceiling Peterskirche Munich, artist not listed, Jebulon, 21 October 2013, CCO-Universal Public Domain; A happy woman, Donald Macauley, 18 January 2011, CCA-SA 2.0 Generic; both Wikimedia Commons.