Dear Parishioners and Friends,
We all feel out of sorts and unspiritual at times. You may not want to pray, or when you do, your prayers may feel mechanistic and dry. Does God value the prayers reluctantly or mechanistically spoken?
Sometimes you don’t feel like being kind to others, even in your own household. What value, in God’s eyes, is your service to your household, if you don’t feel like doing it?
Paradoxically, St. Therese of Liseux says that our efforts toward others and movement toward God when we don’t feel like doing the good that we should may draw the most grace from God. She had the same struggles, and here’s what she wrote about them to her sister Céline:
What a grace when, in the morning, we feel no courage, no strength to practice virtue; that is the moment to put the axe to the root of the tree … and what a profit at the end of the day … in one act of love, even unfelt love, all is repaired.
She extolls unfelt love in these circumstances. That may not sound virtuous, but it’s one of the best ways to grow in virtue. That’s because when we press on without the consolation of feelings, then we’re doing it because we know it’s right, not just because it feels rewarding. This is love that arises from the will alone.
As Lent continues on, it can become harder to feel motived to fast and pray. You might find yourself irritable around those whom you promised to serve. But you can still serve God when you’re grumpy. The effort will yield extra graces as you grow in virtue.