Thursday, March 21, 2013

Guarding Your Faith in the Modern World; Remember the Four D's

{Photos taken from the Nashville Domincans Website:}
If you love Nuns, raise your hand!

I just absolutely love nuns and sisters of religious orders.  I love them so much that when I was young I thought that I was called to be one myself.  I have an aunt/godmother who is a Dominican Sister of Nashville, Tennessee.  So, ever since I can remember, I have thought that nuns are cool.  Quite the opposite of the cultural belief!

Every single religious sister I have ever seen is incredibly beautiful, yet the only skin they show is their face and hands.  They have an interior beauty that radiates from their soul.  I cannot help but be in awe of their vocation.

Every sister I have met possesses an indescribable happiness.  Yet, they have no possessions to call their own.  And their lives are spent in constant service; service to the world, to their community, and to God.  You cannot help but be attracted to that joy.

What are they doing that makes them so beautiful and happy?  Well...the complete and total opposite of what the world tells us to do.

The world tells us, especially women, to wear tight, revealing clothing in order to be loved and desired.  The world tells us to serve ourselves because no one, not even God, cares about us.  The world tells us that having a lot of money and things will make us happy.  The world tells us that sex is a right not a gift.

Now, I am not saying in order to find true joy and peace you must join a religious order.  No.  But take a lesson about what can make someone truly happy and truly peaceful.
Only by living your life completely and totally for God will you be able to gain that lasting joy and peace that “surpasses all understanding”. (Phil 4:7)

So okay, let’s say you don’t have a vocation to the religious life.  Let’s say you are like me and your vocation is to be married and live in the world.  How can we obtain that joy and peace when everything the world tells us is contrary to what we believe?

A few weeks ago, I went to an inspiring holy hour given by the Sisters of Reparation of Steubenville, Ohio.  Sr. Mary Peter gave a wonderful talk on how to live in the world and keep your soul pure and holy.  I thought that it was too good not to share with you.  Her talk was an hour, so I’ve summed up only four of her main points below.  I will call the bullet points the Four “D’s” to Remember (D as in Devil’s tactics, D as in Detrimental to your soul, etc).

When you live in the world, you have to protect your faith and guard it like a precious treasure.  Because it can be easily taken away, you must always be on guard.

Protect your soul from:

Dazzle – The world is flashy.  The Devil uses the dazzle and glamour of the world to take your attention away from God.  Guard yourself against the false promises of happiness and power.  Technology can be a good thing. We can use computers, Internet, and other technological advances for great good.  However, technology should be our slave.  We have to control it so that it does not become the “king” in our lives.  New stuff is dazzling and intriguing.  I can be easy to get distracted from your true mission with phones, computers, Internet, television, iPods, iPads, and video games.  If you cannot resist falling into sin because of these things, then get rid of them.  Would you rather have your computer or your soul?  Like the Christian song; what if you gained the whole world but lost your soul? (Matt 16:26)

Doubt – There is a popular religious trend these days called relativism.  In a nutshell, it means that each person determines what is good and bad.  “What is good for you might not be good for me.”  You’ve heard it before.  Where that belief true in some circumstances, like if we are talking about which flavor of ice cream you like, it is not true for religion.  There is good and there is evil.  If you do not acknowledge that truth, then your moral life will get lazy.  A lazy conscience is detrimental to your soul.  “I am not that bad”, you might say, or “but, I am a good person”.  If you get comfortable then you get lazy, and you stop trying to improve.  That is when relativism moves in.  If you cannot believe in your beliefs, then what do you believe in?  You cannot honestly live your faith unless you have decided that it is worth dying for.

Discouragement – Guard your soul from despair, discouragement, and depression.  It is from the devil.  I am not saying that you are culpable of sin if you struggle with depression.  God is allowing it to happen so that you can grow from the experience and come out better on the other side.  However, do not allow it to run or ruin your life.  Search for ways to find joy and peace in the faith.  Never give up, never stop trying.  Accept the crosses you have been given and work with what you have.  But don’t settle for a life of discouragement.  It will cause you to go in a downward spiral and that is what the devil wants.  Always get back up and reach for the light.  Sometimes, God talks to us in our darkest, lowest moments.  He uses those low points because we would not listen to Him when we had success.

Deception – How do you know who to listen to?  How do you know what is truth and what is false?  Well, in the Bible we read that Christ is the head and the Church is the body (1 Cor 12:27).  So, if you stay in the Heart of the Church, then you will stay in the Heart of Christ.  God has promised that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church.  For over 2000 years the Church has never taught fallacy or heresy.  The Pope can never teach wrongly on matters of faith and morals.  Stay in the heart of the Church and you will not be deceived.

To guard your faith, you must also be pro-active.  You must cultivate your relationship with God and pray frequently.  Detach yourself from the noise of the world and sit in silence and listen to God.  Those are two words we’ve forgot how to define: silence, and listen.  The world is nosy.  There is so much that robs our silence and listening.  Music, YouTube videos, Internet phones, reality TV shows, texting, Tweeting, Facebook…  You could be in a quiet room but your head is still full of noise.  You are pulled out of this world into the world of technology and communication.  However, in order to communicate with God, you must turn off all the noise and listen.

Remember the Four “D’s” as you are living your life in your vocation.  It’s possible to live “in” the world but not “of” the world, even if you are not a Nun.  (That is such a funny statement if you take that out of context!)  It’s possible, yet difficult.  If you can be aware of the things that are detrimental to your soul, you are making a good first step.