QUERY GROUP III: Part 1
(13) Why do people who seem evil
become successful and powerful,
and why does God permit them?
(14) Why does it seem that I am a
I do my best to obey the Commandments and pray every day.
(15) Why are my prayers not
answered, why does God not give me what I have asked for?
(16) I feel alienated from God, I
think He has abandoned me, and I
don't know what to do, prayer does not seem to help me. Help me!
The problem of evil has always troubled good people who see evil for
what it is, a hatred of God, in the heart of men and in their acts.
They know men who have the outward appearance of being evil,
either in what they advocate or what they do. When they put the name
evil to others, they are declaring a distinction between themselves
and these men who are also their neighbor as defined by Christ.---that
evildoers are a separate group of men. The puzzlement increases when
men classified as evildoers reach the height of power, immersed
in success and wealth. To some men who are striving to serve God and
be impoverished or otherwise diminished in the eyes of the world and in
their own eyes perhaps, this does not seem fair. One man asked me, "How
obey the commandments and have so many troubles and setbacks, while it
seems so many who oppose the teaching of Christ have good incomes and
success in life? Why doesn't God do something?" He said he felt a
failure. He was judging as the world judges.
This has been the lament of men, since the beginning of
the sons of Adam and Eve. The first resentment of
success from one who claimed to serve God was that of Cain. He slew his
brother Abel, whose sacrifice of the unblemished first fruits of his
labor---a pure lamb---in atonement, was accepted by God Who
received the sacrifice because it was offered by one who was pure of
heart, so pure that he could not, would not withhold the finest
offering. Cain seethed with jealously, the sin of spiritual
envy. He had not done as his brother, instead rendered to God not the
finest of his labor---the best crops---but that
which he could do without, second best. He did not find
favor with God. Now the book of Genesis does not tell us why Cain chose
an imperfect sacrifice, only that he did and what followed. His heart
did not place God above all things, we presume. God held him
to account for his brother and Cain knew instinctively, challenging
God, saying, "Am I my brother's keeper?" We know that we are all our
brother's keeper from what ensued. Cain was banished from other men and
sent to roam as an outcast. Cain feared the retribution of his other
brothers, of other men, and spoke of his fear to God. God placed a mark
upon the head of Cain, that he might thus be singled out, not for
which is God's alone, but to let men know that Cain was not to be slain
by them. Consider that God did not let Cain off easy, he was a "marked
man"---the origin of the phrase--- with all the harshness of life in
disgrace, yet he was not
to be killed for his crime against God.
answer, but this is not what I asked, Cain was not a success,
he suffered. Yes, but the pure of heart suffered, too, he was slain by
his own brother, not for what he did, but because of the jealously of
his brother who did not offer up what is owed God. In other words, Abel
slain for the crime of his brother, while the brother who murdered him
was not. The is the same sort of thing as your complaint. We all
suffer but the good suffer more. Abel represents the unblemished
priesthood, he is the figure or prototype of Christ, the Pure Victim on
the Cross Who died for the crimes of those who put Him to death---all
of us. This is the answer Christ gives from the Cross, our rightful
response to the evil we perceive: Forgiveness. Forgiveness as we are
forgiven our sins when we are sincerely sorry. God knows if we are
truly contrite or not. We cannot read the hearts of men, so we
are bound to forgive for the sake of our own souls and for the sake of
You mean we do nothing to punish evil? No, society was just beginning
to bloom when
Cain killed Abel, in violation of the natural law. God was still among
men by acting as the instrument of justice---something we find over and
over again in the Old or First Testament. It would not be until the
time of Christ that God would walk among men in the flesh as an
instrument of mercy. God banished Cain; men
were to accept this as the justice demanded by God. Behold the mercy
of God---he did not put Cain to death, when he most likely would have
perished in the fires of Hell, because his heart was not turned to God;
he banished him [there were no prisons or fines then] from society, and
in doing so, he gave Cain a second chance as he did Adam before him, a
chance to repent and do penance. This is what is meant by justice,
tempered with mercy. We don't know the outcome, it has not
been the will of God to reveal this to men through the Church, we will
know the eternal place of Cain at the general judgment. Today society
has a formal system of justice, be it good [recognizes the sovereignty
and authority of God] or bad [no such recognition], it exists. Now let
turn to the New Testament.
The First Covenant [Testament] is superseded
by the Second or New Testament which fulfills the Old. The problem of
good and evil is
"THE PARABLE OF THE WHEAT AND TARES"
kingdom of Heaven is likened to a man that sowed good seeds in his
field. But while men were asleep, his enemy came and oversowed cockle
among the wheat and went his way.
And when the blade was
and had brought forth fruit, then appeared also the cockle. And
the servants of the goodman of the house coming said to him: Sir, didst
thou not sow good seed in thy field? whence then hath it cockle? And he
said to them: An enemy hath done this.
And the servants said to him: Wilt thou that we go and gather it
up? And he said: No, lest perhaps gathering up the cockle, you
root up the wheat also together with it. Suffer both to grow until the harvest,
and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers: Gather up
first the cockle, and bind it into bundles to burn, but the wheat
gather ye into my barn.----St. Matthew, 13: 24-30
good sower in the parable represents Christ, Who has His servants, the
Angels of the Apocalypse---the reapers, who will gather the tares or
cockles, which are unrepentant evildoers who are cast into Hell
[bundles to burn]. The harvest is the salvation of the good,
who were justified because they obeyed God and had perfect charity for
Him and their neighbor. They are the wheat to be gathered in the
I don't think I understand how
you not see, the good sower told his servants who asked the same of him
that you ask of God and by directing your inquiry to me, that the
good and the bad must remain together, for to uproot the bad may
endanger the good. ["Why doesn't God do something?"] This is a parable
for the presence of men who are thought cockles among men who consider themselves the wheat. ["Why do people who seem evil become
successful and powerful?"]
is less the justice of God and more His mercy. God gives men
will. He does not go back on His word. The word that is pledged is also
Christ. God chose 12 Apostles of varying degrees of goodness. Not good versus evil. One denied Him
and was forgiven when he asked. Prior
to this, another betrayed Him. God did not condemn Judas before men
while he lived. He gave him every chance to repent as Peter would do
soon. It was not until Judas hung himself that we hear Christ say of
him: It would have been better that that man had not be born. Many
theologians think Judas went to Hell based on this passage. The
Church has not declared this a fact. The Church has the power from
Christ to declare a Saint, but not to determine who is in Hell. No man
is all good---only God is all Good---nor all bad,
for God created man good, his existence itself is good, the splendor of
God's creation is in man, the highest being in the Mother of God, full
of grace, but
good because man is created in the image and likeness of God. The image
is Justice, the likeness, Mercy. 
how wretched we may appear in our own eyes and those of others, we are
not evil incarnate, we have goodness in us.
justice of God
will demand every last farthing at our judgment; the first farthing or
accounting parallels the first act of mercy on the Cross, the first
word of the seven last words of the Word: "Father, forgive them, for
know not what they do." His prayer was infallible---it could not
fail. Whatever little good man has done will be in his favor and
his Guardian Angel will recount that good on his behalf,
for mercy's sake. Whatever bad man has done, will be admitted by him,
the devil accusing him to himself, while he is making his account. The
Justice will be weighed [St.
Michael's symbol is the Scales in some art]. If that man, no matter how
many sins he committed, nor how heinous, if he, before death, was truly
repentant, imperfect contrition in Confession or perfect contrition
itself, the Scales will tip in his favor, meaning he died in the state
is what happened with the pronouncement of the
Second word from the Cross, when the two thieves, both of whom were
guilty, hung beside the Word made flesh, one on the left and one on the
The thief on the left blasphemed, remained unrepentant; the thief
on the right, "the good thief" knew that Jesus was innocent while he
was guilty of the crime he was being crucified for. He asked Jesus to
remember him when He entered His Kingdom. The man had true sorrow
because he had offended God. Because he did so, the grace of God
revealed to him Who it was that was crucified beside him. We know he
was saved because Christ said, "This day thou shalt be with Me in
Paradise." Two men who appeared to the world equally guilty died
different deaths, that is, in disposition. We do not know if the good
thief, who was so gentle
of spirit prayed for the other thief's final repentance in the last
moment or not. It strikes me as something he would do just from the
little we know of him, which is a great deal, because what we know is
sufficient for a lifetime of meditation. Mary was there, beneath the
three crosses. Did she not intervene also, this most merciful of
Mothers, because the good thief would have asked? Even if he hadn't?
From the moment of the giving of the third word, she was to Mother as
the Mediatrix of all graces. Who could think other than yes?
We don't know. Scripture does not tell us everything we would like to
know. This is for us a mystery.
Scripture does reveal what we need to know about repentance,
does it not?
How often in the Gospels? So many stories of the mercy of God and
sinners who trust in His mercy and ask it on behalf of others. Always
remember Judas's umbrage with Our Lord when He showered His approval on
St. Mary Magdalen when she bathed His feet with precious ointment and
them with her hair. Instead of rejoicing that a sinner was converted,
Judas fretted about the cost of the oil. We all know Christ's answer.
has haunted the wicked ever since and refreshed as a balm, anointing
the spirits of those
who no longer want to be wicked.
Let us stress anew:
the first Tribunal of Christ was from the Cross, so was the Tribunal of
the Dispensation of Grace, His Holy Mother, who stood beneath the
Cross. "Woman behold thy son, son behold thy Mother." This was the
Third word of the Word on the Cross. All men save she, are guilty of
sin, yet God in His mercy has bequeathed as His last will and testament
His Holy Mother to the Church and she to the purest of heart of His 12
Apostles, St. John. Mothers love all their children, those who are very
good and those who are not so good. The child who is in trouble is
always the one the good mother showers her love on most, because he is
in the greater need, the needs of the soul greater than those of other
needs. Since all sinners are willed to Mary, Mediatrix of all graces,
is not up to us to say this person deserves this or not that, as if we
Recall the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee. The Publican
looked sinful to the eye of the Pharisee who thought himself more
holy. Who was justified? The humble sinner, the tax collector, while
the religious man, the Pharisee, who praised himself to God, no
less, was not the hero of the story.
is what we do when we say, that man is evil or bad and he is rich,
while I am good and I am poor. Who are we to say we are good? No Saint
ever did, what ever good men found in them they attributed all to God.
Rightly. A man may be very bad, but are we not
also when we decide what we merit from God, that we are better than he
is? Are we not evil to harbor such envy? Are we not of the world to
judge so? We don't know whether the other man is humble when alone with
God, but it
is for certain, that if we think like this, we'd better examine
consciences because we have the appearance of not being humble at all.
This was similar to the sin of the Puritans, besides that of heresy and
They held that the more success in life one had, the more one had favor
with God. Our sin is to think it unfair to lack success while observing
we have only to look at the life of the Holy Family:
they were modest and poor, known only to their little circle and a few
neighbors. They had no money to go to the Temple for the Purification
of Mary and the Presentation of Jesus. The mystic, St. Mary of
us that Simeon and Anna provided for their lodging in Jerusalem. Before
this they were treated like peasants when they tried to find a room for
the night, the holiest night of the year. Mary, the pure Mother of God,
without blemish of any kind, had to give birth to the Son of God in a
stable inhabited by animals. Think about this. Perfect Justice in the
Providence of God. Perfect Justice because of the Fullness of Mercy.
Jesus willed perfectly what the Father willed and this
was the ordained will of God the Father. We are to imitate the Holy
the successful innkeepers, who robbed themselves of the privilege and
grace to adore the Newborn King. This is not to say that we must
be poor, avoid being good at our vocation, if that vocation provides a
decent income. No, it is the detachment we must have---from the goods
the earth. So detached that we not notice our neighbor's wealth in our
hearts. This is why the fruit of the Third Joyful Mystery---the
Nativity---is detachment from the things of the world. Physical poverty
if need be. Spiritual
poverty always. Spiritual riches---wealth beyond counting. Cain did not
possess this virtue. True detachment enables us
to be indifferent for ourselves. Not the indifference of sloth, the
indifference to the circumstances that come, that being the will of
God. It is not wealth that corrupts, it is the attachment and lust for
it that does. Envy is another form of avarice. If we are detached
it will matter not who is "good" and who is "bad" and who has what.
Fourth word from the Cross, "My God, My God, why hast Thou abandoned
Me!" fulfills a prophecy of the Messiah; by uttering this lament Christ
was saying in His agony I am He Who has come! He was also suffering in
His human nature as the flesh suffers, only to the utmost, to the last
drop of Blood. Thus He cried out. How can we abandon Him by
refusing to ask for mercy for sinners; if we think another is worse
than us and less deserving, is not this what we do, apart from judging?
If we think another is less meritorious than we, are we not refusing
him mercy? We are asking for mercy for ourselves in our supposed
[Pray, tell, why, if we are so good?]
while remaining discontent and covetous of his situation as we
perceive it in our minds. If we ask for mercy for ourselves who have
some evil, is it not possible that another may have some good? Our Lady
of Fatima asked us with urgency to
pray for the conversion of
sinners, those who have no one to pray for them. Perhaps that
successful man is a horrid sinner; we can't know, but ought we not pray
for the conversion of sinners, including him? Only after
unworthiness before God to pray
for the conversion of sinners, save
the request of mercy by the Mother of all men. It
is a privilege, not only a duty, to pray for sinners! As wretched we
may be, so long as we are contrite and striving to do better, the
sinner we spiritually adopt may be so wretched beyond his sins that he
has no one but us to pray for him. To carry our cross is not enough.
Like Christ we must die upon it, too. And like Him, we must say,
"Father forgive him, he knows not what he does." Then might not Christ
to us, "This day thou hast found salvation."
Fifth word, "I thirst." is the cry of Justice and of Mercy. Blessed are
they who thirst for Justice. Still more blessed are they who are
Merciful. To look at a man's goods or reputation of greatness, and not
see a man like ourselves, whom Christ thirsts for, He desires
that He draw all men to Him, is to lack mercy. It is also unjust since
we deny him what we owe to him because we are our brother's
keeper. We may have to place a
man in prison for the sake of natural justice, for the good of our
neighbors, but we must be merciful. One of the seven corporal
works of mercy
visit the captives [those in prison]. Three of the spiritual works of
mercy are to:
instruct the ignorant, admonish the sinner, and bear wrongs
patiently. To forgive persons rather than
Sixth word of the Word of God is "It is finished." His sacrifice is at
a completion. The King of kings, the Son of God most High, the Second
Person of the Trinity in human nature, stripped almost naked and hung
on the Cross. Almost naked. It took this, and the last drop of His
Precious Blood for the completion. We die, stripped naked too, our
wealth, fame, position among the high and the mighty of no avail. He
died naked---innocent, we die naked in guilt. If we
call ourselves Christians, how can we say, this man is evil, he does
not deserve his good fortune? If he is attached to that fortune, his
death will be most fearsome. If he was not attached, perhaps this
earned him enough grace to repent of his sins. Is this not what God
wills? How can we not also will what He wills? His ways are not our
ways, how can we judge by appearances?
The Seventh word is "Into Thy
I commend My spirit."
know, St. Alphonse Liguori wrote many many beautiful prayers in which
he poured out his heart to Our Lord and Mary. So many of those
petitions include the admission that "if it were not for Thy mercy, or
Thy grace, I would have merited Hell." A Saint who knew his sins
deserved Hell! He had no wealth of his own, no earthly goods. Position
yes, as Bishop and Head of a Religious Order, a position God willed for
Him, and as with all Saints, a trial for him. He suffered greatly in
this and had the ailment of crippling arthritis. Yet, he said he
merited Hell. This was his spirit before God, one of commending himself
because he trusted in the mercy and goodness of God. Ought not it be
wise to follow
such a Saint, as he followed Jesus, rather than
judge circumstances as the world wants us to judge? Ought not we
commend our spirits to God, in humble submission to His will for us,
His perfect will?
Divine law is written in the heart of man, and we call this the natural
law because it inheres in man's very nature, body and soul. But men do
not have perfect knowledge of
the effects of their actions unlike the Angels. God so loved His
creatures that He was merciful and gave them another chance. Every time
we commit evil, we receive the chance again and again in the tribunal
of the Confessional. We are all evil, in that Christ told us to call no
man good. By this He means we creatures are all sinners, save His
Mother, who is
unique in the economy of salvation or the order of grace. The smallest
venial sin is such an evil, man does not have language enough, nor
intellect enough to describe and grasp its enormity. If we could, we
would die of fright. Again, the first tribunal
of Christ was the Cross. After He expired, it being the custom of the
soldiers who had the responsibility over the crucified, to break the
legs of the condemned in order to hasten death, an act of mercy on
their part, the only one they were allowed after vinegar and gall was
administered to numb the mouth--- the centurion, Longinus, came to
the Cross of Christ. He was already dead, so he did not break His legs
fulfilling a prophecy from the Old Testament. To be certain, however,
Longinus took his lance and struck the Side of Jesus from which Blood
and Water gushed forth as a fountain, the last farthing of the debt
paid. As Wine and Water are blended together in the Chalice for the
Consecration ---the Mystery of Faith---by the Priest, for the many
that are saved, so we ought to see in the blending of the wheat
and the tares the mystery of life here. [The Council of Trent defines
the translation as many, not all, because this portion of the form
signifies the fruits, not the efficacy. Christ died that all might be
redeemed, not all are saved.
our Guardian Angels take us by the hand and lead us back to the field
of the good sower. See, they show us, the economy of salvation is such
that we must work out
our salvation in fear and trembling as St. Paul instruct us. The golden
field is marred by brambles. The answer
to the question you have asked is there---midst the wheat and cockles.
The wheat does not know it is wheat, it is content to be how God
created it and the setting in which it is placed. It thrives among
thistle. It does not judge the thistle, but grows upward and
straight, gently bowing toward Heaven in the sun, to become the finest
flour, daily bread. The tares or thistle knows it is cockle in its own
way. It must wend its path wherever it can, to burrow deep and far,
becoming a thicket of bitterness. It knows no glory, nor gold. It is
The truly good man does not
is good, and the bad man
knows he is bad, even if he pretends to the whole world differently.
His shape is misspent, unruly. He is also bigger than his
neighbor, the wheat; he has appropriated for himself more space,
appears to flourish
above and beyond. If only he knew how to make himself more comely, less
loathsome to men. He looks at the wheat and sees how men love it.
He is not merciful to the wheat, yet the wheat does not seem to mind,
letting him have his way. How can this be? he asks himself. He knows he
cannot be uprooted, for if he were the wheat would die, too. His
existence is dependent on the wheat's survival, the wheat's worth and
goodness, not his. The wheat is thus merciful,
and grows more splendidly with each act of mercy. Because the wheat is
limited in his opportunity, upward is his path, since the cares of the
world, or the sideward and downward would choke him. That
upwardness is justice itself because the wheat conforms to his nature
as created, he is just as he
is supposed to be, all and only that which is owed to him is provided. There is
no more more. All the cockles proclaim: Ought not this be unjust?
Mr. Tare cannot penetrate this mystery. The sower seems content, the
arrangement is just to him. It is enough. Providence and confidence in
then is the answer to the mystery of life, why does it seem as if the
good suffer and the bad prosper? The good suffer as Christ suffered,
for the sins of all, to proclaim mercy to those who show no mercy. If
the bad man who is not all bad merits damnation, the little good he did
on earth must be rewarded. His prosperity is the reward. If the bad man
who prospers merits Heaven, his goods were for the good of
others, although unseen except by God, in some way conforming to God's
plan. If the good man rebels against the Divine plan, loses confidence
in that providence, he loses what little good he has, unless he
repents. There is another Parable, that of the stewards, one who wasted
the little he had been given to oversee and lost it all. To judge by
external things is to take on the spirit of the world, while to
be content to
submit our spirit to the Justice and Mercy of Divine Providence, is to
renounce the world.
does it seem that I am a failure? I do my best to obey the Commandments
and pray every day. You are looking at this backwards. Prayer
union with God first, supplication for favors, second. Yes, we are to
ask for what we need although God already knows. Why? Because He has
preordained that we should participate in His loving goodness, His
Providence, by asking. It is how He has chosen to provide.
God provides everyone with enough grace to be saved. Despite the claims
of the Declaration of Independence, He does not create all men equal.
This ought to be evident from common experience. He loves some men more
than others, favored some Saints more than others. The Saints are
Saints because they did not complain, they rejoiced in the goodness and
gifts of others, precisely because they did not think of themselves
better than others, but worse. God also does not send trials that are
too much for us, even if we think that this is the case. He is all good
and always wills what is best for us. The Catholic has a Declaration of
Dependence, by grace alone, the grace of God. As long as we do our best
to use the grace we are granted, this is success. It is the good that
God wills. The only failure is to be Hell. There should be no one
there, but Hell is filled with failures.
Now, when some people ask about failure, what they want to know is:
How come God did not answer my prayer to succeed in life?
There are no easy answers that will fit every one's situation. We
cannot know the mind of God. Our Faith infallibly instructs us that God
desires our salvation; to this end He will chastise as need be, always
a good sign, for the greatest Saints received some form of
chastisement, either for their own advancement or knowledge or to
suffer for others; other times He prevents the request because it is
bad for us, although we cannot understand this. There is an old adage,
"Don't pray too hard for what you want, you may get it." Meaning,
sometimes what we ask for appears perfectly reasonable to us, but it is
so, too late we realize. This too, is a good sign, for God is
protecting us. Men of iniquity who still ask God for favors, through
others, often, may receive these benefits for the reward of the little
good they may have done, the natural good. Whatever the reason, how can
we judge God to be unfair? We cannot. Either we ask Him to give us the
grace to trust Him or we refuse to do so and live in bitterness, far
from Him. There is a third reason, to keep us humble. The hold
that the effects of Original Sin have on us are so strong that we are
easily filled with pride when we see the good things we accomplish. So
full of pride there is little if any room for God. It is only at
our judgment we will know the good we accomplished. If we see failure,
we either strive harder, or fall back, it is up to us, we have only to
trust in God. Our works are not ours, but His. Saint Catherine of
Siena, a Doctor of the Church and mystic was one who considered herself
an absolute failure. She accepted her state and trusted in God. She did
not know that she was a success while she lived. She grew in humility,
not dejection. You see, she felt that God was calling her to to go to
Avignon, France during the residence of the Popes there when there were
more than one claimant to the title and office, off and on. It was a
time of upheaval in Europe and in the Church. She pleaded with the
rightful Pontiff to return to Rome, to the seat of Tradition. He
did go back but not when she requested. She died thinking she had
failed God. It is so much more painful to think we have failed God than
ourselves or someone in our family. Failure is hard for anyone because
we are taught to do our best to accomplish great things for God and
sometimes this means for our country, too. Unfortunately men take the
measure of success from the wrong play book, that of the world. We have
to look beyond, toward Heaven, and there plight all our troth, so to
speak. We don't know why God let Catherine see failure, but whatever
the reason it has to be perfectly just, perfectly merciful, perfectly
good. If God let St. Catherine, who was privileged with a Mystical
Marriage to Christ, endure a sense of failure, cannot we also, and
more deservedly? Sometimes God lets us see a little success in order to
not completely discourage us, like the good parent on the
previous page who is admonished to not be be unduly harsh in
child. Every child is unique and what may be quite severe to another
may be just right for another. We pick our way carefully through the
brambles in life, we are not perfect at it. God is perfect. Therefore,
let me repeat, Hell is full of failures. The only failure that matters
is to lose our eternal happiness in Heaven with Him.
Why are my prayers not
answered, why does God not give me what I have asked for?
God answers all prayers except the prayers of those who have abandoned
all hope, committing the sin against the Holy Ghost which is not
forgiven, the refusal to ask for salvation, to ask for mercy. Usually
this person does not pray at all, but in principle if he should,
remaining in this deliberate state, his prayers would not be answered.
This is from the Council of Trent.
Usually when someone says, "My
prayers were not answered," they mean I
did not receive what I asked for in the way I asked for it. God is not
a rich, doting uncle or Santa Claus, hand Him my wish list and it all
comes true. God is a loving Father. No father, who truly loves his
child would give that child everything he asked for or desired, even if
he could afford it. This is because a wise father knows that he must
instruct his children to be humble, chaste, obedient, to have
fortitude, prudence, and a spirit of detachment. When a child is small
his needs are simple, and he is content with little as long as he has
what is necessary, above all love, patient love. As he grows older he
learns that the world is bigger than his father's arms. He explores,
and naturally given to curiosity---which is the spark of learning---he
may discover more than is good for his nature and his manhood. He
begins to ask for many things. His father says no to the things that
are capricious, dangerous, inopportune, etc. He must, if the child is
to develop into a man who desires sanctity above all else. The child
thinks what he wants, and all that he wants is good for him because he
knows it exists and he desires it. He does not have the judgment of his
father who had the benefit of his father's judgment before him.
Depending on his temperament and the amount of grace he has merited, he
can accept the denial or whine or continue to ask his father. He knows
his father will say no, but he can't give up the trying anyway. This is
scenario 1. Scenario 2 is when the son asks for something that is good
for him, but he is too young. The father tells him he will have to wait
until he can earn it for himself, or he is old enough and so on.
After a time the father is busy with chores; the son has saved some
money and grown a bit; he asks again. The father says yes. Sometimes it
may take a few tries, but the father keeps his word and grants his son
his request. Scenario 3 is when the son wants a new car; the boy had an
old jalopy that he wrecked because he did not observe the speed limit.
Then he borrowed his older brother's car and damaged that, too. The
father has to discipline the boy in some manner. He denies the car, not
only because he is concerned about his maturity, but because he does
not merit one. He did not offer to pay to fix his brother's car, in
This is how it is with God, our loving, perfect Father. He knows what
is good for us and what will harm us; we may not know because we are
not all-knowing and all-wise. If we needed the prayer to be answered as
we expected to save our souls, it would be granted. Not so with health,
and other earthly goods. And sometimes God is chastising us to get our
attention. He may be asking us to forego a good thing in order to
suffer for the sins of others if not our own. When it is the latter,
the person is not disappointed; he says, I accept Thy will, O great
God, because Thou art all Good and Loving. Thy will be done on earth as
it is in Heaven. I will offer up this little denial for the conversion
of sinners. A person who would question God's decision would not be
given the grace at that time
to see what it is that God was asking of him.
I feel alienated from God,
I think He has abandoned me, and I
don't know what to do, prayer does not seem to help me. Help me!
God only abandons us if we have committed the sin against the Holy
Ghost, refuse His help, refuse to repent, the sin of final impenitence.
He will not help us without our cooperation. He keeps His word, it is
up to us to choose.
But I don't think this is what you mean. Most people mean, I have no
consolation from prayer and nothing seems to get better. You feel like
God has grown distance or you have and desolate. You still have some
faith left. How do I know? Because you are trying to understand, you
haven't given up, you reached out for help---"Help me!" This is to the
good and a sign of hope. If you were on your way to the unforgivable
sin you would not have reached out. Judas did not reach out to anyone
except the Jews whom he received his thirty pieces of silver. He tried
to have them take it back, they refused and he threw the pieces down
and left in despair. He wanted them to somehow make things right, to
take back their perfidy against Christ. He was asking a kind of
anointing or forgiveness from those who had no power or notion of
mercy. Christ awaited him in gentleness. When Jesus arose from His
prayer in the Garden the throng of soldiers advanced with Judas in the
lead, who went up to Him and kissed Him. Jesus said, "Does thou betray
me with a kiss?" If Judas, had asked forgiveness it would have been
granted in the instant. Because he let his sins, the enormity of his
crimes, theft and the plot to kill Jesus, Who was innocent, take
priority over humility he had a false pride, pride in that while he was
not proud of what he did, he thought his sins were too big to obtain
mercy. What an insult to Christ. So he committed the unpardonable sin
in his own mind and desolation covered him. He killed himself in an act
of despair. Utter folly. No, this is not your trouble here.
Generally aridity and desolation
in prayer or after prayer comes from
two spiritual things. The first is the desolation, even abandonment
that Saints felt, called the "Dark Night of the Soul". St. Teresa of
Avila experienced this. For years she struggled with just the Rosary.
She wasn't being tepid, God was trying her, purifying her for Himself.
At one time when she was young she had been lax. This may have been a
chastisement, not to punish, but to heal, to perfect. If He had
given her too much consolation she would have become inordinately
attached to this and not progressed. Beginners of the spiritual life
will find sweetness and solace in prayer for a time, then it seems it
disappears. Sometimes it is because we deserve it because we have let
the spirit of the world intrude far too much; other times it is to
promote advancement. All the Saints suffered to pray from time to time.
So much so that one, I can't recall who, but I remember the utterance:
"God if You will me to, I will go to Hell." He did not want to go to
Hell and God does not want anyone to go there either. What he meant was
he felt so abandoned and unworthy of God, though he loved Him and
wanted to do His will, he would obey a command to go to Hell, thinking
he deserved it. God cannot command anyone to go to Hell because this
is not Who God is in His operations. It is the sinner who prefers
himself to God who sends himself there.
I also know this is not your
state, because you want God, seek union
with Him above everything. You are struggling to understand. Pour out
your heart about this to Him. Then wait upon Him in His 'time" not
yours. Make your desolation a prayer itself. Tell Him you will do
whatever He requires. And wait. Pray as best you can, don't worry about
each particular. This is easier said than done because we human
creatures judge by our nature, in our nature, not as God judges. This
is okay, actually. All any of us have to do is to trust Him, and
distrust ourselves, the first rule of spiritual combat. Trust Him when
He seems absent---He isn't, we think so, but He isn't. It is easy to
love someone when he is always there, pays attention to you, it is much
harder when his absence is inexplicable, frustrating, even frightening.
This is the same with God. Human beings can let us down, often do, as
we do them. God will not. He loves to be trusted as much as He loves to
be asked for mercy, for graces. Pray for the grace of trust, then trust
in that prayer and wait. He is perfecting you even now. Slowly, surely.
of Trust in the Sacred Heart
In all my temptations, I place
trust in Thee,
Heart of Jesus.
In all my weaknesses, I place my trust in Thee,
Heart of Jesus.
In all my difficulties, I place my trust in Thee,
Heart of Jesus.
In all my trials, I place my trust in Thee,
Heart of Jesus.
In all my sorrows, I place my trust in Thee,
Heart of Jesus.
In all my work, I place my trust in You,
Heart of Jesus.
In every failure, I place my trust in Thee,
Heart of Jesus.
In every discouragement, I place my trust in
Thee, O Sacred Heart of Jesus.
In life and in death, I place my trust in Thee,
Heart of Jesus.
In time and in eternity, I place my trust in Thee,
Heart of Jesus.
From the CATHOLIC BOOK OF PRAYERS
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I
My Trust In Thee"
"O Sacred Heart of Jesus,
I place my trust in Thee,"
Whatever may befall me, Lord,
Though dark the hour may be.
In all my joys, in all my woes,
Though naught but grief I see.
"O Sacred Heart of Jesus,
I place my trust in Thee."
When those I love have passed
And I am sore distressed,
O Sacred Heart of Jesus,
I fly to Thee for rest.
In all my trials, great or small,
My confidence shall be,
Unshaken, as I cry, dear Lord,
"I place my trust in Thee."
This is my one sweet prayer, dear Lord!
My faith, my trust, my love,
But, most of all, in that last hour,
When death points up above,
Ah, then, sweet Savior, may Thy face
Smile on my soul set free.
Oh, may I cry with rapturous love,
"I've placed my trust in Thee."
the Sacred Heart calls Jesus the Vessel of Justice and His Mother in
the Litany of Loreto, the Mirror of Justice. A mirror reflects one's
image. The response to the first
is "have mercy" and to the second, "pray for us". The Catechism of the Council of Trent teaches
that when man forgives injuries he takes on the likeness of God, "Who
maketh His sun to shine on the good and the bad, and raineth upon the
just and the unjust." [St. Matthew 5:45] Taken from the section on the
Commandments, p. 428.