by Fr Richard Heilman | July 23, 2018 5:55 AM
Peace Through Strength
The Challenge to Enter the Supernatural Life
“The Lord will give strength to his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.” -Psalm 29:11
How Sloth is Sapping Your Strength
By Major Jeff Heller
When I think of sloth, I think of laziness, or inactivity. I think of hitting the ‘snooze’ button instead of getting up when the alarm goes off. But what if sloth is much more dangerous to the spiritual life?
Dom Lorenzo Scupoli says in his book “The Spiritual Combat,”
“It is of the greatest importance to make war against sloth. This vice is not only an obstacle on our way to perfection, but it delivers us over to the enemies of our salvation.“
Peter Kreeft, in his book “Back to Virtue” also notes:
“Of all the seven deadly sins, sloth is the most distinctly modern. Nothing so distinguishes modern Western society from all previous societies as its sloth.”
So, we find that sloth is more important than we may have thought. Perhaps it is more relevant to our own spiritual journey than we imagined.
For me, sloth manifests itself in many ways:
There are many times in which I find myself aiding the search of the enemy, instead of intentionally reading/studying the readings proscribed for the day. I often find myself struggling to do the right thing at the right time when there is something else do to (or watch) which more easily takes my focus.
Dom Scupoli says, “If you desire to fight this vice in earnest, begin by avoiding all curiosity and vain amusements. Withdraw your affections from worldly things and stop all pursuits that are not in harmony with your state of life.” Easier said than done? I don’t know about you, but as a father of five, I find worldly affections and vain amusements all too common.
How does one put aside the pressures of the day (or the vain amusements) and begin to follow the Lord as one ought? Dom Scupoli says, “Things must be done at the proper time, and in the most perfect manner possible. A precipitous act, which is done with no regard for its proper execution, but only to be rid of the trouble and to enjoy peace again as soon as possible, cannot be called diligent. It is rather an artful, refined sloth.” In other words, do at this moment that which must be done. Do tomorrow that which must be done tomorrow. We must stay close to the will of the Lord in prayer to know what is required of us each day, that way we may do that which is required of us at the time in which it is required.
We may find difficulty at first, but Fr. Scupoli gives us a practical method to overcome sloth: “If you are to pray for an hour, and the time seems long, begin as though you were to pray but a quarter of an hour. When that is finished, propose another quarter hour, and the hour will elapse imperceptibly.” The same principle may be applied to any work. If I am to clean the garage, I may start by moving one item which is out of place. After that, I will move the next item. Soon, the garage will be clean, but I will not have to worry about the whole of the job at one time.
The same principle may be applied to my physical work, as well as my spiritual. I can take the first step tomorrow, say it’s putting the workout DVD into the player, as well as getting up early enough to accomplish the work. I can also accomplish my spiritual work by making the first step to complete my “Peace Through Strength” tasks of saying the Angelus at 6am prior to my physical workout.
Finally, for me, I will take steps to finally finish my master’s degree, which I have been putting off for years.
Which task will you take on?!
Best Supernatural Strength Practices
As we continue this “Peace through Strength Challenge,” we want to pledge to adhere to (restore?) the best foundational practices of an authentically strong Catholic. If you obey Christ and His Church 100% (remain loyal), and practice the following (All, not most or some), you will be strong in God’s supernatural grace, and you will live in peace. You’ll notice we are not addressing such things as tithing, volunteering and catechesis. Why? Because all of these will follow as we are filled with supernatural grace. Grace fills us with a hunger for “the more” of knowing and pleasing God.
Make a plan: Ask yourself, “Can I embrace all of these now? Or, do I embrace some, and add others over time?” Either way, you’ll want to make these foundational practices a regular habit in order to be a “strong Catholic.”
Support System: You may want to create or join a “Peace Through Strength Squad” of 3+ people. Maybe create a Facebook group. Also, try to join together with an “Accountability Buddy.”
Commit to these practices from July 16 – October 7.
Sign-up to receive these posts in your email HERE. (Again, Peace Through Strength Challenge posts are every Monday & Thursday between July 16 & August 15)
Doug Barry of Battle Ready will coach us into physical fitness with every “Peace Through Strength Challenge” post:
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