Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Truth vs. feelings

An Anon wrote, “This is going to sound stupid but I'm going to ask because I'm an anon. I take the sacraments and it does not make me feel closer to God or make Jesus real to me. It does not make me feel like I received grace. I have no sense whatsoever that God cares one way or the other whether I show up at Mass. Do I misunderstand what the grace of the sacraments means?” Thanks, Anon, for asking this, and I’m sorry that you feel that way. Two things come to mind with regards to what you wrote, and one may be the cause of the other.

The first thought is what my good friend, Fr. Wells, would say so often: “it’s not about feelings”. He argued well and often that there is a battle in our culture between truth and feelings. Our Lord emphasizes Truth – the truth about Himself, life, and ourselves. He reveals Truth to us, and we are obligated to be obedient to what He reveals in Scripture and Tradition. For example, He reveals the truth about what is morally right and wrong in the Commandments; to live the Truth is to be obedient to the Commandments. Doing what we’re supposed to do, day in and day out, is living the Gospel of Truth.

On the other hand, our culture emphasizes feelings. Its “gospel” is centered on the mantra, “do whatever feels good”. Many people live according to their feelings, and judge their experiences based on feelings alone. An example that is similar to your situation, Anon, is one that I’ve heard many, many times: people don’t “feel anything” when they go to Mass, or they “don’t get anything out of it”. And so, they conclude that there is little or no value in Mass because their feelings tell them that there isn’t.

The danger is that our feelings may be wrong. You write that the Grace of the sacraments doesn’t make you “feel closer to God or make Jesus real to me. It does not make me feel like I received grace”. Just because our feelings are telling us these things doesn’t mean that they are true. The truth is that God’s Grace, especially in the Eucharist, makes us one with Him; we share in his life. The definition of Grace is “a share in divine life”. The whole reason why Jesus came to Earth 2000 years ago was so that we would share in the life of God, in this life and for all eternity.

The truth is that Jesus invites (actually, he commands) you to receive the Eucharist. He says, “Take this, all of you, and eat it… Do this in memory of me”. So, of course, He cares very much whether you show up at Mass. He has an intense desire to be one with you, to have Communion with you. He wants you to experience his life, his love, and his peace. While currently it may not feel like you are receiving his life and love, you are. I ask you to be patient and faithful to Him; He will reveal His loving presence to you, in time.

The second thought is that we can’t forget about or underestimate the role of our Enemy in all of this. I personally believe it is Satan who is putting the thoughts (like the ones you mentioned in your post) into people’s minds very strongly. He wants us to feel these things – that the sacraments have little or no value, Jesus isn’t real, God doesn’t care about me, etc. It’s obvious to me that they are from him who is the “Father of lies”.

How do we blast through these lies, especially if they are frequently intruding on our minds? We continue to be faithful to Christ. It is easier said than done, but it is what we need to do.

You ask about missing the point of the grace of the sacraments. One of the main points to consider is that we need God’s Grace regularly to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim 6:12) against Satan and temptation. We can’t do this on our own. Another main point is that we have to be open to Grace. I encourage you and any others who are struggling with growing in Grace to ask God to open your heart and mind to His Grace. Say a daily prayer like, “Lord, open me to your Grace”. I promise you that, ultimately, He will reveal Himself to you, and you will experience his love, peace, and joy.

19 Comments:

At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Father -- Do you know whether there is any validity to reports of a woman in Frederick recently experiencing apparitions of Mary?

 
At 2:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"there is a battle in our culture between truth and feelings."

How so true!! I never thought of it that way!

 
At 2:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sat in morning Mass today and saw a little red cardinal sitting in a tree covered in snow. What a lovely sight that was! Wish I had had my camera.

 
At 2:19 PM, Anonymous Night Owl said...

Anon,

I used to feel the same way you did and now I am getting a lot of daily Mass. Stick with it-things will change-really!

 
At 2:20 PM, Anonymous Night Owl said...

oops the above should of read "out of daily Mass"

 
At 2:40 PM, Anonymous Kelly H. said...

Go Father Greg! Great teaching. Let's me expand on the feelings part:

I don't feel like exercising today.
It is raining and cold, I don't feel like going to work/school today.
Oh, the baby's crying, I don't feel like getting up again to feed the baby.

Mass? I don't feel like going I am just too tired or whatever. Football? My only day off! What! Try to get three TEENAGERS out of bed befor noon on Sunday?

Confession? No way, I don't feel like dealing with that. I am not that bad.

and so on and so on and so on.

Feelings can be wonderful and they are part of us. However, sometimes we all need to what I call-----------FEELINGS BOOT CAMP- Marine Corp Fashion-------No matter what our mood or feelings for the moment, GET UP AND DO YOUR DUTY!

Whenever I don't feel like meeting my obligations, I think of my 19 year old nephew carrying a a 60 pound back pack and walking directly into combat/gunfire(in Iraq). Suddenly all of my obligations/commitments (both religious and personal) seem like a walk in the park.

 
At 6:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

$25,000 matchmaker

She has a 90% success rate. Her fees "start" at $25,000.

Whoa !!!!!!!!!!

 
At 6:51 PM, Blogger Reese said...

Congrats on the (several) nominations in the Catholic Blog Awards Fr. Greg! Good luck in the voting!

 
At 10:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this I believe--that unless I believe, I should not understand. -- St. Anselm of Canterbury

 
At 11:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just curious-
what is the difference between a religious order priest and a diocese priest? Is there a distinction through the ordination process and/or their education? Do they focus on more or less specific teachings? Also, what one is called "brother", in what capacity is he serving- is it just for monks?

 
At 12:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

FG-
It would be nice to have a brief bio on our clergy here at SAA. I don't know anthing about our deacon, and I think most would find yours and Fr. Mike's backgrounds interesting. You are pretty good about speaking at Mass about your life both before you were a priest and now. For those who find it difficult to understand how a priest could relate to "normal" life, it might be helpful to know about what jobs you all had before you were priests, or that Fr. Mike grew up with so many siblings. I know learning that about him made me feel more comfortable to speak with him about problems I might have with my kids, as I knew he'd probably have a wealth of personal experience upon which to draw. Just a thought....

 
At 3:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Kat I feel the same way.

 
At 3:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"what is the difference between a religious order priest and a diocese priest? Is there a distinction through the ordination process and/or their education? Do they focus on more or less specific teachings? Also, what one is called "brother", in what capacity is he serving- is it just for monks?"



I am glad you asked these questions because I am going to see the Fransiscans with a friend on Saturday if the weather is okay that is.

 
At 3:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this I believe--that unless I believe, I should not understand. -- St. Anselm of Canterbury

He is definately not trying to confuse people.

 
At 8:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

so you don't call a deacon "brother"?

 
At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Deacons wear a sash, what does that signify?



Supercalfragilisticexpialidocious

 
At 1:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kelly,

Girl your life is h-e-c-t-i-c! People don't appreciate moms as they should be. How do you keep it all together? Its really amazing!

Incidentally I have been going to weekly and (when I can) daily mass regualarly. Last weekend I went to three Masses in one day. It was so nice and I felt great afterwards. I am sure the Blood of Jesus had something to do with it also. But by the third Mass my mind kind of wandered off to a sunbeam.

Hey how is it at home? It must be hard with all the snow and everyone home from school. You are definately a supermom!

Sunshine

 
At 10:33 PM, Anonymous Kelly H. said...

Sunshine,

Hi! I am so envious that you have been able to go to Mass so often! Since we are fellow parishioners, we have to meet some time.

Excuse me for my little tirade on feelings! I just babysat my brothe and s-in-law's three little ones for the weekened - age 1, age 3, age 5 boy with Down's Syndrome. I put everybody to work - hub, all three teens. It was crazy but fun too! And to think my husband would not mind another baby! He has more patience than me!

Glad to hear that you are receiving the sacrament so frequenty! Awesome, Sunshine!

 
At 10:27 AM, Anonymous Tom said...

The stole seems to signify the yoke of the Lord, in which case it is more fully around the priest than the deacon because the priest possesses Holy Orders more fully than the deacon.

My guess, though, is that it's mostly a simple means of easily distinguishing priests, deacons, and acolytes (who have no stoles).

 

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