Refusal of Joy

The words spilled out of my mouth

“Acedia, despair, lukewarmness, all of these things that feel so small can snowball into something big, and before we know it, we’ve turned our back on God,” the words spilled out of my mouth. I said them almost robotically, just spewing information, not connecting to them as they came out slowly. The four young women I teach RCIA to looked on with wide eyes as they began to discover the ways they desperately needed God.

I couldn’t connect with the words, because those words were me.

I was teaching on the first commandment, “I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me.” Man, every time I open that Catechism to teach about commandments I discover a new way that I miss the mark. I discover love, I discover mercy.

Acedia

Lukewarmness is hesitation or negligence in responding to divine love; it can imply refusal to give oneself over to the prompting of charity.
— Catechism of the Catholic Church 2094

How many times have I rejected God because it all just seems too hard? How many times? How many times have I been too busy, too distracted, too annoyed to stop and pray and be at peace? I have fallen into the trap; because I am a Christian and I have given my life to the Church then I have built up enough virtue in myself, and there isn’t much work left to be done.

Wrong. Wrong. So wrong.

I desperately struggle to build up virtue in anything in myself, and it is only by the grace of God that I allow Him to move in me . There is, and always will be work to be done on me, so please Jesus, break my pride.

Next Catechism across the face moment:

Acedia or spiritual sloth goes so far as to refuse the joy that comes from God and to be repelled by divine goodness
— Catechism of the Catholic Church 2094

My intention for these sessions where I teach on the commandments was for the women to have a sort of extensive Examination of Conscience before they dive into the sacraments at Easter. I didn’t plan on it being the same for me. But my carelessness was now staring me in the face.

But really, hold on a minute.

Refuse the joy…Seriously?

What gives me the right to be worthy of him? The God of the Universe says that it is a sin when I reject joy. Yet, I find myself doing this over and over again, caught up in daily frustrations, old wounds, and future stresses. Then I stumble upon this truth, that I was actually made to choose joy, and I am completely enamored by the love of God. When I hear of this joy, as the words tumble out on a Tuesday night, I am desperate to shed my mediocrity.

The Remedy

Prayer and confession is the only thing that seems to be the remedy. I look upon the tabernacle in the small little chapel, and I just beg. I beg for the grace to take the next right step, because worry and anxiety are slowly stealing my joy. I beg to have the courage to look at my life how it is today and not sit there trying to solve all of the problems of tomorrow. In the silence Jesus reminds me that he is authoring my future, and I resolve to believe him and believe in his promise, because sometimes it’s the only thing I can do: resolve to just believe.

I beg for the grace to confront my sin, and I beg for healing.

Ultimately, acedia is me failing to trust that he is generous, and good, and will make my life extraordinary if I just let him. If I put down all of the work and all of the plans and all of the depending only on myself, there might actually be room for joy. There is even room for Jesus too.

His Sacred Heart comforts me and calls me on. He shows me that I must choose joy and that every day is made for me and his glory. I can either choose to revel in him, or allow pain and worry to steal it all away. He gently encourages me, and calls me with clarity, where I allow myself to let everything rest at the foot of the cross.

Maybe this Lent instead of giving up chocolate we can all reflect on why we give up joy as Christians. For me, I find his mercy anew in the sacrament of confession, and with a real resolution to choose the joy and peace that comes from knowing that I do not go alone, I am restored.  

Break my pride, sweet, sweet Jesus. With it, I am nothing.

 

MARIA MALASPINA

Maria has a deep love for soup making and stress baking. She came into the Church just six years ago and is still stunned by the love of God. She currently resides in northern New Jersey where she is a Director of Faith Formation and spiritual momma to 200+ kiddos. Follow her blog at Avemarisstellasite.com and on instagram @rugazarusrex and @avemarisstella.