Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Grant Us the Grace to Persevere

Grant Us the Grace 
to Persevere

A couple of weeks ago on Sunday, the Gospel reading was Mark 6:7-13, in which Jesus sends the Apostles out two by two to preach repentance and heal the sick.  One line of the Gospel really struck me as I listened to it: “The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.”
The words that particularly struck me were, “The Twelve.”  I had read this passage many times, but at Mass it struck me, Judas was part of the Twelve.  He went around and drove out demons and healed the sick.  He performed mighty deeds in Jesus’s Name and saw the power and miracles It produced.  And yet, in the not too distant future, he would fall away.  He would betray Christ and take his own life in despair.
How could he have turned on Jesus after having seen and done the things he had?  It was a rather humbling consideration.  Often we can fall into the trap of becoming complacent in our Faith.  We become convinced of the truth of Catholicism, we give our lives to Jesus, try to live in an upright manner, receive the incredible Graces He gives us, and then often feel like we are safe and secure from ever falling away.
I have seen in my life men who I would consider much stronger and holier than I fall away.  Priests who dedicated their lives to Jesus with the most sincere of hearts who have betrayed their vows.  Men who I had respected who became unfaithful to their wives.
Now I don’t contemplate these things in a spirit of judgment.  And I know that the vast majority of priests live virtuous lives dedicated to their Lord, while countless men commit themselves to their wives and families faithfully.  Yet there are those few, whom I admired, who have fallen away.
What happened to them?  What happened to Judas?  And if they can fall, what can happen to me?  It shakes me out of my complacency.  And it is a reminder to all of us that conversion is a continual process, and that sin remains a constant threat.
I recognize that when my prayer life begins to weaken, I begin to weaken.  When I tolerate or rationalize small sins, larger ones become much harder to resist.  God provides the Grace to live holy lives, but we must never forget that we are in the middle of a war.
As Scripture says: “Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, steadfast in your Faith.”  As Catholics we should remember that this is true.  Our Lord has given us all the weapons we need to defeat the enemy, but we must make use of them consistently.
Prayer, fasting, the Eucharist, Confession, good works – all these are weapons, and they discipline our flesh and our spirits so that we will not fall away.
God has promised us the Grace to persevere, and with His help and with the use of the weapons He has given us, we will.  But Judas should serve as a reminder that we are never secure enough to become lazy or complacent.
Finally, we should remember to pray for each other, and especially for our priests.  They have become so busy, with so many demands placed on them, it can be a challenge for them to nurture their own spiritual lives.  And there is nothing we need more, nothing more powerful, than holy priests.  So let us not forget to pray for them and their spiritual lives.  And let us follow the example of the eleven that did not fall away, keep our focus on Jesus, and persevere to the end.