This city's excessively laid-back priests would give me a grand old pat on the back just for being concerned about it. But I think one should not necessarily look to one's confessor for encouragement toward holiness. Confessors are there to be reservoirs of God's forgiveness and the sacrament of his absolution; this is a gift given them via their Ordination, and not earned. In other words, any knucklehead can absolve. But to be a voice outside of myself, a serious agent of discipline to a spoiled youth, someone who sees "holiness" not as a churchy word descriptive only of natural virtues, but an irreducibly unique, salvific, visible, active love of God and in God--that is no ordinary confessor, and it is not a "spiritual director" in the perfunctory sense. It is a Spiritual. Director. I wonder if men like that exist anymore. I hope so.
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." - CCC 2732My friend Brother Thomas has a whole category of posts on his blog dedicated to "struggling with doubt." Yet he has consecrated his very life to Christ; he may well do so in a startling and permanent way, if the Lord leads him to make solemn profession in a couple of years. What I find odd in my own circumstance is that my own doubt has never taken quite the same shape as that of Brother Thomas's; if his has been intellectual, mine has been practical. My own mind is a kind of idealistic cathedral, but it's also largely an uncrowded tourist attraction; it is the Lateran at Rome. Maybe the things that have bothered him haven't bothered me in the same way--for example, reading a few too many articles from infidels.org. No big deal; there I can see the gloomy shadows of positive atheism for what they are: paper thin, scarcely a breath of wind.
But it isn't gloomy shadows that haunt me; it is worldly delights. The turning away from the Creator to the creature, the primordial sin, dogs me and feels so heavy around my arms and legs. To be drowning in things while I gasp for the air of the cathedral, even while I sometimes see it becoming more and more shadow-like itself--what an ignoble destiny! I am afraid that, unless I be helped in a radical way, I will constantly be in danger of going to the 8th circle with the hypocrites; a deep circle, precisely because they held something so good before they spoiled it.
I am concerned, yes, but not sad. God is strong, and he asks for so little--only that I am persistent in my love for him and that I turn back to him wholly when I realize I have done wrong. Please, Lord, burn my heart, rip my chains, kill my lust, even if it kills me. Only have mercy on me in my weakness.
Little "everyone is a mystery" disclaimer: I understand that the distinction I draw between Brother Thomas's battles and my own is simplistic and crude; I hope caricatures can be forgiven, if I have written anything fruitful here. In any case, nobody who lives long enough is a stranger to any kind of temptation.