Interestingly, NOTHING good happens when you listen to bad thoughts! Not all thoughts are products of your brain? Our Catholic faith, and other Christian traditions help us to discern sources of our thoughts and when they are from the devil to reject them. How freeing to know you are not a source of bad thoughts! Considering how different these sources are, you would think it would be easy-peasy to differentiate between them!
It isn’t! The whole purpose of a lie is to make an untruth look true. If some humans are good at them, imagine how good a spirit, namely Satan, is at making a lie sparkle attractively. When we tell ourselves that since we are firm believers, and love Jesus with our whole heart, soul and mind, we are immune from Satan’s influence, we are less alert to deception. Who knew?
So, if we can’t keep Satan and his forces out just by being close to Jesus, what are we to do? Reading and re-reading the Meditations in Coloring Meditations for a Full Life will help you know when something is not quite right.
The bottom line: Through prayer, we must keep choosing Jesus in every moment of our lives! St. Teresa of Avila is a Doctor of the Church and is cited in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Prayer in general goes from paragraphs 2556 until 2758!) at Paragraphs 2704 (being aware of to Whom we speak in vocal prayer Way of Perfection) and 2709 (mental, or contemplative prayer – Book of Her Life, 8, 5), and even though she is an authority on prayer, she had to battle Satan. If she can win, so can you!
So why do we have ups and downs? Why don’t we just have a straight line up of progress? Wouldn’t that be so much easier? It would, but it is not our nature! When things are easy, we get lax, or lose discipline, so we slide back. Or sometimes, we are disciplined even when we don’t feel like being disciplined, and in those times, we are so proud of ourselves we can’t see our sin! Other reasons: lack of sleep, poor food choices, sadness over situations, lack of serenity and trust in God when we are powerless to do anything about happenings in our lives, and even our own sickness, and scars from our pasts. Does St. Teresa give any additional practical information to help us in our struggle towards trusting wholly in Him and experiencing His joy, no matter what happens?
Here are eight recommendations for climbing out of our pits from Coloring Meditations for a Full Life (M refers to Meditations):
- Repeat the words in Holy Books you read (M 1)
- Turn to Mary (M 1) (Mother of God, Mediatrix of Grace!)
- Recognize your shame over sin as a block to escape it (M 5)
- Be humble, have courage and repent to the point of heartbreak AND get help (M 6 & 7, 10, 13; Almost all meditations mention confession, and many mention a spiritual director!)
- Desire God (M 8, 17)
- Know God is on your side (M 11, 12)
- Pray on the Passion every day (M 14, 15, 16)
- Know that even if you suffer, are tested and are persecuted, God will use these low points to help you AND they will not last forever! (M 16, 19 & 20)
As a previous blog post says, another great remedy is time spent in silence. Wait for God in the silence. Lent was a an awesome time of growth for me in the silence, and I have decided that each Lent shall be a time of rest and renewal by observing silence on all Art2Pray social media (here, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube). Making art usually happens no matter what else happens in my life, for it is a special gift of prayer from God. Yes, at times, He has taken it away, but He generously gives it back. So this Lent, those who follow me on Instagram (Art2Pray) know that the images of my prayer were 1) the Divine Mercy and 2) the Seraphim as St. John of the Cross referred to it with explanations of why it had six wings and why it was covering its face and feet. May God be blessed as we journey together towards eternal life.
A final note for joy as a remedy for down points: Look for inspirations from holy music. In fact, playing music as you color is a great idea. The convent of St. Teresa was full of singing (and she admits to not working enough at her singing!), and as St. Augustine says, “Singing is praying twice.” Sometimes, listening even to a language you do not speak, such as Latin or French helps. A Latin example would be music of Gregorian Chant, and a French example would be any music from the Taizé community which sings about the Road to Eternity, Le Chemin de éternité – Let us walk together towards eternity in joy.
Please comment below about other ways to feel better when you are experiencing a down time.