Skip to comments.Following the Truth: Spiritual Dryness: “I Don’t Feel Anything!” (Catholic and Open)
Posted on 11/29/2011 9:27:17 AM PST by Salvation
One of the most comforting feelings that we can experience is a sensation of peace, or even joy, when we pray. For many of us, this feeling was most pronounced at the time when we first made a decision to commit our lives to the Lord. Unfortunately, equally as common is the feeling of dryness that most of us have experienced at least once since that time. It is a sad reality that many people cease to pray once the good feelings disappear. Others question themselves when they dont experience warmth or joy, especially after receiving Jesus in Holy Communion. Surely it must be a sign that our spirituality is lacking. Maybe we should pray harder, longer and more often so that the good feelings will return. In reality, this lack of feeling, known as aridity, is a normal part of our spiritual life and is something that has been experienced by numerous saints throughout the ages. Learning how to deal with it can actually draw us closer to the Lord and improve our spirituality.
As human beings, we are often guided by our emotions. We like to feel good and often pursue those activities that provide positive feelings. While this tendency can guide us to engage in beneficial activities, it can also cause us to fall into sin. As evidenced by the encounter between Eve and the serpent (Gen 3:1-6), sinful behavior is often caused by following those things that appear to be pleasurable. If we want to avoid straying from the path of goodness, we must learn to question our feelings and rely on our faith as a guide. While this can be difficult, mastering this technique will put us on the road to sanctity.
The season of Lent provides us with an excellent opportunity to identify our earthly pleasures and voluntarily forego them in order to focus on the things of Heaven. We often turn to the things of the world for satisfaction. Lets face it a big piece of cake, a delicious hamburger, some beer, wine, or a shopping spree can make us feel good, at least temporarily. When we are sad, we often turn to these things to cheer us up. While not inherently sinful, constantly relying on earthly pleasures for happiness can put us on the wrong path. If we only pursue those things or activities that are pleasurable, there is a strong likelihood that we will fall into sin. Why? Because, at least initially, sin feels good! If it didnt, then it would be much easier to avoid. If we wish to steer clear of trouble, we must discover a more objective means for making moral decisions.
By turning to the Church as a moral compass, we have a reliable guide for making decisions. This guide is not based upon our feelings and is not subject to our emotional ups and downs. Even though excessive drinking, illegally copying software or music, cohabitation, contraception, or missing Sunday Mass may feel good, the Church tells us that these actions are sinful and should be avoided. While it may provide momentary satisfaction to tell off the incompetent store clerk or clueless coworker, the Church reminds us that we must love thy neighbor. Learning to trust in the Churchs wisdom over our own feelings will ensure that we remain on the right path.
Learning to question our feelings can also yield great results in our spiritual life. The Lord often removes some or all of our good feelings (consolations) for a period of time. We may be praying as much as before, but suddenly it no longer feels good. During these periods of dryness, we may be tempted to cease praying because of the absence of enjoyment. Before doing so, however, we should take a long, hard look at our motivation for praying. Are we doing it to please God and to enter into a relationship with Him or are we doing it because it feels good?
While not as serious as ceasing to pray, many Catholics torment themselves for not feeling anything when they receive Jesus in the Eucharist. When the expected feeling of euphoria is not experienced, they question their spirituality and seek ways to fix the problem. In reality, it is actually quite normal to experience nothing out of the ordinary after receiving Holy Communion. Although we may not enjoy the experience, this lack of feeling provides us with an opportunity to love Jesus unconditionally. Similar to the love that we give to an infant or a parent suffering from advanced dementia, we are blessed with an opportunity to express love for Jesus while expecting nothing tangible in return. In his Prayer After Communion, St. Padre Pio summed up his acceptance of this condition with the words, Stay with me, Jesus. I do not ask for divine consolations because I do not deserve them, but I only ask for the gift of Your presence. Oh yes! I ask this of You!
Its important that you dont panic when you feel a sense of spiritual dryness. The condition is usually temporary and enables us to gain better control over our actions. Persevering in prayer, despite a lack of feeling, will help us to become more detached from our emotions and will lessen the chance of falling into sin. Throughout the course of our lives, we can expect to go through many dry periods. I find that its best to look at these dry periods as a gift, an opportunity to express our love for the Lord without receiving any consolations in return. Its easy to say I love You, Jesus when we get a warm feeling of peace in return. However, if we truly love Him, we should be just as willing to express those sentiments when we dont feel anything!
Gary Zimak is the founder of Following The Truth Ministries (http://www.followingthetruth.com), a lay apostolate created to assist Catholics in learning more about their Faith. He is a regular guest on EWTN Radios Son Rise Morning Show, Ave Maria Radios Catholic Connection with Teresa Tomeo and appears frequently on several other Catholic radio programs. In addition to writing for CatholicLane. Mr. Zimak hosts a daily program on BlogTalkRadio and posts frequently on his blog, Facebook and Twitter. He is a member of Catholics United For The Faith and the Knights of Columbus and resides in New Jersey with his wife Eileen and twin daughters, Mary & Elizabeth.
**The season of Lent**
We could just as well say “the season of Advent.”
These dry prayer times can show up anytime!
Advent Series Ping!
Hmmm. Not as many people want to talk about their prayer life being dry as, yesterday, wanted to bash the Catholic Church.
What’s wrong with this picture?
How about the word “persevere:??
It is not about ‘feeling’ the Lord’s presence. He does not say, “You will always FEEL my presence.” He says, only, ‘I am always with you.’ Feelings come and go — ‘a bit of gristle’ as Scrooge says. Better to take charge of your will and act appropriately.
Just as the earth has seasons, so does prayer. Winter feels cold and fallow but is as important to the fertility and growth of some seed as summer is.
I didn't mention anything about the Lord's presence, did I? Please try and quote me correctly. Thank you.
Ah ha! THAT was the precise word that eluded me.
Wonderful, inspiriring piece. Thank you.
inspiriring = inspiring
Also our Catholic prayers are always about other people because with the intention we have others concerned in the prayers. The Divine Mercy is one of my favorites. We are giving out.
Remember what Christ declared In giving you are receiving. In giving out prayer for others we receive. At least I feel the presence at these key moments of pray. I think it can have a lot to do with how much we mean it within our souls too. Not to judge others I think God handles us differently.
When I read scripture and sense a new understanding this is exciting and uplifting. Thus a new experience and presence of awe of our Lord.
Also for a feeling of natural health I use vitamins and Omega 3's. I have found out omega 3's fight depression too. When I would not use omega I could feel it. Then I looked it up. A lot of people believe it too for natural health and well being. I use "smart balance" spread which is loaded with omega oils. LOL! I hope I am not too much off track of the main subject. LOL!!
you are lucky.
One of these days the Lord will take these “cookies” from you (the happy feeling you get from praying), and essentially ask you: Do you love Me for myself, or for the good feelings you have when you “pray”.
On that day, you will grow up.
"But before the mountain top experiences with the Lord sometime we have the "in the valley" moment before the Mountain experience."
Did you read this part. Sometimes too far and in between at times for my self.
I was really talking to Salvation who knows me better than you do. She started the Post. I have experience many deaths in the family. I know all about the dry and terrible moments at times. Even in somewhat looking normal on the outside feeling. What I wrote was for someone who knows my writings on these posts with her and others who know me.
I think I always accent the positive more than the negative. I also lighten things up with a little humor. I am very sorry you do not understand.
I have a funny feeling you are a very very depressed person for that I am truly sorry. I will pray for you. It sounds like you are going through a rough time now.
If I appeared flippant. I apologize.
May Christ Richly Bless you Body ,Mind and Soul!