Monday, November 4, 2013

Where Our Faith Falters

Acedia.  To which I say, "Hey, buddy, you're sittin' on top of the world!  Why so glum?"

Joe Grabowski sends this along ...

Facing temptations in prayer (from the CCC)
2732: The most common yet most hidden temptation is our lack of faith. It expresses itself less by declared incredulity than by our actual preferences. When we begin to pray, a thousand labors or cares thought to be urgent vie for priority; once again, it is the moment of truth for the heart: what is its real love? Sometimes we turn to the Lord as a last resort, but do we really believe he is? Sometimes we enlist the Lord as an ally, but our heart remains presumptuous. In each case, our lack of faith reveals that we do not yet share in the disposition of a humble heart: "Apart from me, you can do nothing."
2733: Another temptation, to which presumption opens the gate, is acedia. The spiritual writers understand by this a form of depression due to lax ascetical practice, decreasing vigilance, carelessness of heart. "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."21 The greater the height, the harder the fall. Painful as discouragement is, it is the reverse of presumption. The humble are not surprised by their distress; it leads them to trust more, to hold fast in constancy.

In both cases, we place too much emphasis on our own efforts.  Either we believe our efforts will win the day with or without God, or we believe our efforts will never get us anywhere, assuming our efforts are always without God.  Either way, we see our role in this as bigger than it is.

Guess what?  This applies to acting.  And it applies to Papal Alarmists who think that Pope Francis and his cronies are undermining the Church.

Here's a discussion I'm having with fellow actors on Facebook ...

Kevin O'Brien
Kevin O'Brien

But here's the problem in acting. It's easy for fairly novice actors to beat themselves up over inconsistency. Maria and I knew a fellow actor who did this all the time. "I was horrible in tonight's show!"
I would respond, "No you weren't. You were well within the range of what you needed to be."
He would assume that any time he wasn't "feeling" it, it wasn't working. Well, we don't always "feel" it on stage, and we don't always "feel" it in our faith.
What we know is that Faith produces Works, naturally, by its nature. So even on those days when we go through the motions or hit the mark from the outside-in rather than from the inside-out, that's really still Faith producing Works. I almost never say on a Sunday morning, "Wow! I really want to get out of bed and go to Mass!" But I go anyway, even when my heart's not fully in it. That's still Faith with Works; it's still Faith producing Works, for without Faith, I'd stay in the freaking bed.
So the next time you're in the middle of a scene and that voice in your head says, "You're not feeling this. You suck at it," just keep going.
It's a kind of acedia at work, a nagging sin that your efforts will not avail, and that God is not behind them.
That nagging thought that it's all about our efforts either leads to the false optimism of Pelagianism or to the false pessimism of acedia.

The Papal Alarmists tend to fall into the same trap.  "No matter what we do, it's never enough."  We pray countless novenas and along comes Pope Francis and torpedoes the Church.  This belies a lack of faith.

God is bigger than any Pope, bigger than any effort of ours, bigger than any thing we can think of.  His grace will bear fruit, and in humility He allows our efforts to communicate His grace and bear His fruit.
Pope Francis is a great pope, but even if he were a miserable one, the Church would survive him, perhaps even be strengthened and encouraged in spite of him.

In a similar way, we may be great actors or we may be lousy actors.  But if we keep plugging away, our miserable efforts will be blessed by His enormous Spirit.

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