Exciting News!

My new book just came out!!! And it’s all about Sacrifice!!

My new book just came out!!! And it’s all about Sacrifice!!!

Not a moment too soon, either, for we are living in trying times. The world seems to have lost its way, and many of us feel powerless to correct its course. We begin each day wondering what happened to the world we once knew, and some are fearful of the future. But it’s very possible that Our Lord has allowed this opportunity in history as a reminder for us that this world is passing away. (1 John 2:17)

Now is a perfect time to step back from material things and remember that there is something more for which we were made. As Christians, our allegiance is not to this world, but to God alone, through His Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. So what should we do? Perhaps we should take this time to return to our roots, examining what it means to be a Christian in the world today.

It would seem that anyone who truly desires to follow Christ, should return to His words and find out what He actually said to His would-be followers. We owe it to ourselves and to Him to consider His call as He made it, unblemished by the mores of the culture:

“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?

(Matthew 16:24-26).

Surely Christ’s words are challenging. I don’t know about you, but if given the opportunity, my natural inclination is to avoid the cross like the plague. I’d rather walk around it, step over it, crawl under it or run from it – anything but embrace it.

Yet these were the words of Christ to his disciples. These are His living words to us. Today. The question is, how do we go about doing this? What does denying myself look like? How exactly must I carry my cross? That is the subject of my latest book — The essence of what it means to be a Christian. Essentially, it means sacrifice.

In The Lost Art of Sacrifice, you will learn

  • The difference between suffering and sacrifice.
  • Why life is not measured by what you get – it’s about what you give.
  • The reason God prepared your soul for sacrificial love.
  • How to avoid Satan’s traps by recognizing lies of the culture that are sure to lead you astray.
  • Why sacrifice is not something that happens to you but is an act of the will.
  • How to cultivate the Art of Sacrifice in your life.

Find your copy now at most booksellers near you or online! Click on the book below to order at a discount directly from the publisher, Sophia Institute Press:

Suffering: Mess or Masterpiece?

Is suffering a messy canvas splattered with a mishmash of random paint splotches? Or is it a masterpiece of order and beauty, full of meaning and inspiration? It all depends on how you look at it.

It has long been a teaching of the Church that suffering, whether minor or debilitating, should be received as a gift. I’ve read countless spiritual works that put suffering in this proper perspective, and the concept sounds beautiful and glorious. At times I’ve even been inspired enough to want to experience the cross in a “big” way [You know, all those little annoyances throughout the day are piddly, but the BIG stuff — THAT can move mountains (Read with a high degree of sarcasm)!].

In reality, though, I think suffering is more like a magnificent painting. From afar, depending on how people approach it, suffering has the potential to be beautiful, moving and inspirational; but when you get close, it looks like a mishmash of random paint splotches, strewn about in random order — sloppy and very ugly.

Recently, our family has experienced the messiness close up. In the midst of doctor’s appointments, medications, fears, expenses and just the inconvenience of living with a new most likely permanent medical condition, we’ve had several discussions about how much this has renewed our sympathy for others who have endured suffering, and the amazing examples that we’ve witnessed through our lives. My husband’s father was one of those inspirational examples. He passed away nearly ten years ago, after a painful battle with bone cancer.

Because of the admirable way my father-in-law approached his final days, he has become for us an even greater hero than he was. As a dairy farmer, this man woke before the crack of dawn and worked until late at night seven days a week. Yet for all his toughness, he never forgot the Source of strength, and was devout in his faith, keeping a weekly holy hour for over 50 years, participating as much as possible in parish life and always sharing a prayer-centered relationship with his beautiful wife. In the end, despite his debilitating pain, he was joyful, grateful, loving and — most endearingly — childlike. With every shot of excruciating pain, rather than cursing, he’d call out his devotion to Jesus, Mary and Joseph. He held fast to his rosary and prayed fervently during his waking hours. As we stepped back from the splotches, we could see that he was a magnificent portrait of the Christian life (and death).

In our current political climate, activists have set their sites on erasing all the splotches. They want to eradicate suffering on every level, to the point of promoting abortion to the moment of birth, expanding euthanasia for any reason, as well as promoting many other evils that seek to rid our culture of the magnificent beauty and saving power inherent in the sacrifice of suffering. By erasing all the splotches, they destroy the masterpieces of life that God Himself has offered for our good.

Despite a culture of death that insists suffering be eradicated at all costs and by any means, we must remember that as long as suffering is approached with resignation and not bitterness, it can be redemptive and leads to greater union with God. As C.S. Lewis said,

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Saint Teresa of Calcutta said,

“…remember pain, sorrow, suffering are but the kiss of Jesus — a sign that you have come so close to Him that He can kiss you.”

Blessed are those who suffer — how counter-intuitive in today’s society!

Well, after my little pep rally above, here we sit. In the midst of suffering. Our pom-poms may not wave quite so high behind closed doors. But we are learning slowly but surely how to be grateful. And having witnessed role models like my father-in-law certainly helps. The question is, will we stand too close to the painting and focus on the mess of “splotches”? Or will we stand back and appreciate the masterpiece that our current situation truly represents? With God’s grace as the paintbrush, we’re hoping for the latter.

Recently I read some encouraging words by Lorenzo Scupoli. Perhaps I should post them around the house as a reminder —  both for us and for our children:

Now that you are in a position to please Him more than ever, speak from the fullness of your heart and say: “[This] is the will of God that is accomplished in me. From all eternity God’s love has chosen me to undergo this suffering today. May He be blessed forever!”  – Spiritual Combat, pg. 74-75

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Artwork: The Crucifixion by Diego Velazquez (from Wikimedia Commons)

Giving up the Fight

Who among us had not endured pain so excruciating that at the time we could not even whisper our Lord’s name?  It is in those moments that we most willingly lift our hearts to Him.  When we can do nothing else, we offer whatever we have left. We surrender.

Ahem. I am a fighter.  Had I been on the Titanic, I guarantee you I would not have been the picture of peace, praying the rosary on the promenade deck.  I’d have been 1024px-Christ_Falling_under_the_Cross_MET_DP805728scrounging up wood to build a raft.  I might have gone down, but I would have gone down fighting.

In some ways, my fighting spirit has been invaluable to me.   When I was young, I overcame what some would call “difficult circumstances” to become the first person in my family to graduate from college and obtain a master’s degree.  Before I became a stay-at-home mom, I had a promising career as a marketing manager for an innovative division of a giant telecom company.  And today? Well, at this moment I am wading my way through life with four teenagers and two high energy little ones, and have been homeschooling for the last 17 years (which definitely takes a bit of resolve).

All well and good.  But frankly, while determination has served me well in this world, having a fighting spirit makes for a pretty crummy spiritual life at times.

You see, I’m a doer.  If I have a problem, or if anyone I love has a problem, by golly, I won’t rest until I solve it.  And if I don’t have the necessary knowledge at my disposal, I will go to the ends of the earth to find it.  Or Amazon.  Which is probably the same thing.

If you could see my selection of spiritual reading books, you might think you’d entered your local Catholic book store.  And believe it or not, I’ve read most of them.  But putting them into practice? That’s another subject altogether.  Every book I have ever read on the spiritual life has advised me to “Be.”  Be present.  Be silent.  Be open.

Essentially, surrender.

Surrender is not something I do well.  That is unless I’m laid out on the floor with nary a breath left in my body.

And then?

Well…and then…it’s beautiful.  There are no words to describe the peace that accompanies true surrender.

I have a feeling I’m not alone.  Who among us had not endured pain so excruciating that at the time we could not even whisper our Lord’s name?  It is in those moments that we most willingly lift our hearts to Him.  When we can do nothing else, we offer whatever we have left. We surrender.

I think the most poignant description of this experience I’ve seen comes from Fr. Walter Ciszek, who spent some 23 years in Russian concentration camps during and after WWII:

I had talked of finding and doing his will, but never in the sense of totally giving up my own will.  I had talked of trusting him, indeed I truly had trusted him, but never in the sense of abandoning all other sources of support and relying on his grace alone.  I could never find it in me, before, to give up self completely.  There were always boundaries beyond which I would not go, little hedges marking out what I knew in the depths of my being was a point of no return.  God in his providence had been constant in his grace, always providing opportunities for this act of perfect faith and trust in him, always urging me to let go the reins and trust in him alone.  I had trusted him, I had cooperated with his grace – but only up to a point.  Only when I had reached a point of total bankruptcy of my own powers had I at last surrendered.  

That moment, that experience, completely changed me.  I can say it now in all sincerity, without false modesty, without a sense either of exaggeration or of embarrassment.  I have to call it a conversion experience; it was at once a death and a resurrection. (He Leadeth Me, p. 78)

Which of us does not desire with all our heart to experience the resurrection?

I would venture to guess that most, if not all of us would give anything to unite ourselves so closely to Christ.  So the question becomes, Why must we endure such excruciating pain before we can simply and without obstacle, raise our hearts to God?

According to scripture, …unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.  Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. – John 12:24-25.  Or, as one priest used to summarize it, “No cross, no crown.”

Father Ciszek experienced this mysterious truth in a profound way: …it was at once a death and a resurrection.

Usually, I’m unwilling to die.

Except for those times when the suffering is so acute (whether physically, emotionally or spiritually) that death doesn’t sound like such a bad alternative.

Thankfully, as I get older, I’ve noticed those times come more frequently. For me, desperation has not so much come from physical illness – more often I’ve been blessed with other types of battles.  Regardless, with age has certainly come the wisdom to know that all the fighting in the world will not solve some problems.

So, while I have a long way to go, I do see a ray of hope in the distance. Eventually, I’ll either learn to give up the fight, or I’ll have all the fight knocked out of me.  Either way, at that point (God willing), my surrender will be complete.  In this world, many may consider that a cause for concern.  But in the beautiful, complete and perfect world of God’s grace, it will be a good thing.


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Art: Christ Falling under the Cross by Charles Nicolas Cochin II (Wikimedia Commons)

11 Inspirational Quotes about Sacrifice

We are called to give everything, without holding back. Sometimes it’s hard to comprehend the lengths to which we are asked to extend ourselves. Perhaps the quotes below will help to inspire you to desire the love that He desires for you; if not, perhaps at the very least they will provoke a deeper reflection of your Christian vocation.

We have entered the second week of Lent. Most of us are hopefully at least ankle-deep in Lenten devotions, carving time out of daily schedules for prayer, fasting and almsgiving. jesus carrying crossJust in case you need a little motivation, perhaps you could be inspired by Christ’s Summons to His would-be followers:

If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and pick up his cross and  follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? — Matthew 16: 24-26

Christ does not mince words here. We can slice and dice this quote all we want; but as Christians, we are called to love with a special kind of devotion. We are called to give everything, without holding back. Sometimes it’s hard to comprehend the lengths to which we are asked to extend ourselves. Perhaps the quotes below will help to inspire you to desire the love that He desires for you; if not, perhaps at the very least they will provoke a deeper reflection of your Christian vocation:

  1. The sacrifice the good Lord wants of us is to die to ourselves. – St. Charles of Sezze

  2. A sacrifice to be real must hurt, and must empty ourselves. Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than in your weakness. — Saint Teresa of Calcutta

  3. He gave Himself wholly to you: He left nothing for Himself. – Saint John Chrysostom

  4. There is no place for selfishness-and no place for fear! Do not be afraid, then, when love makes demands. Do no be afraid when love requires sacrifice. — Pope John Paul II

  5. The day men forget that love is synonymous with sacrifice, that day they will ask what selfish sort of woman it must have been who ruthlessly extracted tribute in the form of flowers, or what an avaricious creature she must have been who demanded solid gold in the form of a ring, just as they will ask what cruel kind of God is it who asks for sacrifice and self-denial. — Archbishop Fulton Sheen

  6. In the cross alone do we find the soul’s eternal salvation and hope of everlasting life. Take up your cross, therefore, and follow Jesus and you will pass into unending life. — Thomas A’ Kempis

  7. The more intense the love, the less we think of a sacrifice involved to secure what we love. — Archbishop Fulton Sheen

  8. I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love. — Saint Teresa of Calcutta

  9. I have seen clearly what I can do in my own corner of life. Above all, to work on myself, to try to develop in myself all the instincts God has given me; to strengthen my will by regular work; to elevate my soul unceasingly by sacrifice and the acceptance of my usual sufferings, and by a constant and tender sympathy for all who approach me. — Elisabeth Leseur

  10. Love is the soul of sacrifice. — Archbishop Fulton Sheen

  11. It is right to offer sacrifice to God as a sign of adoration and gratitude, supplication and communion: “Every action done so as to cling to God in communion of holiness, and thus achieve blessedness, is a true sacrifice.” — CCC  #2099 (quoting St. Augustine)

10 Great Books for Lent That You Won’t Find on Other Lists

Most of us are looking for spiritual reading suggestions that will serve us well during the Lenten season. Of course, there are the tried and true recommendations – Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux, Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales and  others are amazing choices, and can certainly be read over and over again. But if you’re looking for something a little different this year, I have just the thing.

Most of us are looking for spiritual reading suggestions that will serve us well during the Lenten season. Of course, there are the tried and true recommendations – Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux, Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales and  others are amazing choices, and can certainly be read over and over again. But if you’re looking for something a little different this year, I have just the thing. You may not find many of these books on other lists. You may not even have heard of them (with the exception of the top two, which I mention in my book and in just about every interview I’ve ever done:)). Regardless, every book on this list is an absolute classic that is sure to inspire tremendous change in your life!

secret diary of elisabeth1 The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur (1866-1914) – Marriages seem to struggle more often than not these days. Elisabeth Leseur had an amazing knack for seeing only light in the souls of those around her. Her goodness resulted in her husband’s conversion from atheism to Catholicism. In fact, upon her death, he even entered the priesthood! Rather than pray that others would change for the better, Elizabeth asked only that she could love more, and that the Holy Spirit would use her as an instrument to share Christ’s light with others – most especially those who mistreated her in any way. Read this book if you want to see your relationships thrive. Not only will you learn to focus your eyes on your spouse’s better traits, but you’ll learn to love and appreciate everyone else that God made as well.

trustful surrender2. Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence: The Secret of Peace and Happiness by Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure (1588-1657) and Saint Claude de la Colombiere (1641-1682) – Anyone who knows me knows that this is one of my all-time favorite books and a life-changing one at that. Having been held at knifepoint in college, I spent years afraid to be alone. Instantly upon reading this book, I was able to hand my life over to God, trusting Him with every moment of my life, and even the hour of my death.Suffice it to say that there is a world of wisdom within the pages of this tiny little companion and it will completely shatter any touchy feely paradigm you may have about God and His Hand in your life.

12 steps3. The Twelve Steps to Holiness and Salvation by St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1987) – The title says it all. Step by step, you can walk through Lent in a way that will help you to grow in holiness as you unite yourself to Christ. Liguori’s writings cover the twelve key virtues necessary for salvation, including faith, hope, love of God, love of neighbor, poverty, chastity, obedience, meekness and humility, mortification, recollection, prayer, and love of the cross. For those who appreciate practicality, order and simplicity, this book is a treasure trove of teaching that is concise and yet profound.

way to inner peace4. Way to Inner Peace by Fulton J. Sheen (1955) – If you long to be directed in the way of humility, love and service, Fulton Sheen will lead the way. With 59 specific recommendations for practical steps one can take toward inner peace, Sheen offers inspirational stories, entreaties into psychology, theology and good old common sense to lead you to a place of calm contentment, no matter the storms that threaten your progress as you continue on the path toward heaven.


hidden power5. The Hidden Power of Kindness by Father Lawrence Lovasik (1962)  – If you’re not quite sure what to do for Lent this year, this book will give you plenty of ideas on how to grow in holiness. No matter how kind you think you are, you’ll find plenty of room for improvement, and you will feel much better for making the effort. Even better, your relationships will flourish and you will wonder why you never read this book before. Be prepared to have highlighter in hand, for every page is filled with practical wisdom and sage advice.

summa6. Summa of the Christian Life (3 Volumes) – Writings of Venerable Louis of Granada (1504-1588) – Beginning with the existence of God and what that means for our everyday lives, Granada’s words direct readers clearly and succinctly toward holiness. His writing is simple yet beautiful. Venerable Louis of Granada was a favorite spiritual writer of St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Francis de Sales, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Rose of Lima and many others. You can’t go wrong if you allow this great man to guide you on the path to holiness.

7. Guidance to Heaven by Cardinal Giovanni Bona (1658) – guidance to heavenGuidance to Heaven begins by making clear the purpose of this life in preparing for eternity. Cardinal Bona will help readers to prepare themselves for death by addressing vices with which many of us struggle, and helping us to bring them under control. The jacket of my book says it all and reads in part,

If the reader derived no other value from this book than the realization we are each one going to die – we know not when – and pass to our real life which will last for all eternity, and that our every waking hour of this one should be a preparation for that one, then a reading of this book would have been for him of ultimate value – the best thing he ever did.

jesus of nazareth8. Jesus of Nazareth: The Story of His Life Simply Told by Mother Mary of Loyola (1906) – If you are looking for a book on the life of Christ, this one is beautifully told. Jesus of Nazareth was originally written for children, and I did read it to my kids last year. But it was also re-packaged as an adult book because at 300+ pages and with beautiful language and captivating commentary, this book is a must read for anyone ages 10-110. If, like me, you struggle with imperfect contrition, Mother Mary of Loyola will help you to love Christ implicitly for His simple, yet beautiful goodness, for His loving obedience to the Father and for His great sacrifice, made selflessly for the sake of our eternal union with Him.

counsels of perfection for christian mothers9.Counsels of Perfection for Christian Mothers by the Very Reverend P. Lejeune (1913) – This is an amazing book for mothers. If you are anything like me, you strive for perfection in so many areas that you sometimes forget to put first things first. Wisely, Fr. Lejeune recognizes this temptation for women, and begins his book with a discussion of the meaning of perfection. Clarifying the only definition that matters – Perfection is accomplishing the will of God in a constant and generous fashion – Lejeune then sets out to direct us on how to actually achieve perfection in that light. Advising mothers on everything from how they spend their time to what they say and how they say it, this book offers a plethora of things to consider in the pursuit of holiness, as well as how to take proper steps to achieve it in our lifetime.

practical commentary10. A Practical Commentary on Holy Scripture by Bishop Frederick Justus Knecht, D.D. (1923) – A great way to read the Bible through in story form with commentary that helps you to understand the Faith, as well as practical applications for daily life. I found it to be a wonderful supplement during my time spent reading Sacred Scripture. According to the back cover of my edition,

This book is a great introductory Bible study all by itself – for it brings out the Catholic teachings that are hidden in Sacred Scripture! A famous book – one which received recommendations from 14 bishops when first published and which went through at least 16 editions – this commentary is not a work for scholars; but rather a very practical book for the ordinary Catholic.



The Implacable Power of the WILL

Of all the lies being told by the world, perhaps the most dangerous are those that seek to convince us that will power is a myth. For upon our will depends our cooperation with the grace of the Good Lord in procuring our salvation.

Let’s talk about will power. What exactly is it, you might ask? Most of us know in our gut what it is. But for the purposes of this discussion, I looked up the definition:

According to Webster’s Dictionary, will power is the ability to control yourself : strong determination that allows you to do something difficult.

According to psychologists, will power consists of the following:

  • The ability to delay gratification, resisting short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.
  • The capacity to override an unwanted thought, feeling or impulse.
  • The ability to employ a “cool” cognitive system of behavior rather than a “hot” emotional system.
  • Conscious, effortful regulation of the self by the self.
  • A limited resource capable of being depleted.

Of late, our culture seems to reject the very notion of the will. Everywhere we turn, comments and references treat human beings as mere animals, with little but base instincts, as opposed to persons, each endowed with a will formed in the image and likeness of God.

Of all the lies being told by the world, perhaps the most dangerous are those that seek to convince us that will power is a myth. For upon the will depends our cooperation with the grace of our Good Lord in procuring our salvation.

But the lies persist nonetheless; just take a look at these excerpts from an article originally published in the The Roanoke Times, which refers to studies which denounce the very notion of will power:

Parents, teachers, coaches and ill-tempered sergeants had insisted that the disciplined exertion of willpower against the baser temptations of sloth, gluttony and other moral frailties was essential to building sufficient character to overcome most adversity. What adversity couldn’t be overcome should at least be borne with a modicum of quiet longsuffering, if not grace. Imagine my relief to read of the scientific evidence that willpower is really a myth, especially as it relates to such primal endeavors as dieting. A number of psychologists around the country consider the entire notion of willpower to be just another artifact of quaint but misguided folklore…

In other words, if you keep raiding the refrigerator every night for six extra scoops of megachocolate ice cream, you’re not a pathetic, undisciplined, weak-willed glutton. You’re merely cooperating with the brain-chemical imperative as nature intended. You can’t help it. The chemicals made you do it. 

The above is about as blatant as messages come. But there have been subtle messages going on for decades. And they are severely affecting private behavior as well as public policy. Case in point: How long have advocates been insisting that birth control be made readily available in the schools? Kids are going to do what kids are going to do; they don’t have any self-control – the least we can do is help them be prepared… (Arguably, students have lived up to expectations).

Then there are seemingly innocent memes like the following:


Very cute; definitely funny; but is this the message that we should be sharing en mass on social media? And yet, countless are passed along day in and day out.

Examples abound. I’m sure you could add several to the few I’ve offered here. Regardless, the result of both subtle and not-so-subtle messages about the weakness of the will has been absolutely destructive. What one might call a self-fulfilling prophecy. Just think of a few statistics:

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than a third of the adults in the U.S. suffer from obesity (36.5%). This number is up 10% since 2012 (26.2%).
  • Ashley Madison, a website that “caters to married people looking for an affair” boasts  a client list of 37,000,000. (Not a typo – that’s 37 million people that have registered with this web site!)
  • One in three Americans has absolutely no retirement savings (Time Magazine).
  • As of May 2016, consumer debt reached a whopping $3.6 trillion.

And in the world of religion,

  • According to Pew Research, across our nation, the number of people who pray and attend religious services consistently has dropped 3% across the board since 2007. And younger people observe religious practices significantly less than older populations.
  • On a more personal note, another Pew Research report shows that people are leaving the Catholic Church in droves – there are three million fewer Catholics today than in 2007 – could this have something to do with the notion that, unlike other Faiths, the will – particularly uniting our will to that of God – plays a key role in the in the teaching of the Catholic Church?

People point to this or that reason for declining participation in Christian churches, but isn’t there likely a huge correlation between the lack of interest in the area of religion and the decrease in control of our baser desires? And my point here is not that one has caused the other; but perhaps all areas have been driven by the deeper message that we’ve been hearing in the world – that we cannot control ourselves; whether eating, drinking, smoking, lust, language – you name it – we are destined to live with our own powerlessness, and must simply go along for the ride, despite that fact that both we and our progeny must find ways to cope with the devastation left in our wake.

What a tragedy.

God gave us free will out of respect and generosity, allowing us the opportunity to choose Him, rather than forcing our allegiance to a Supreme Being through His almighty power. That choice is not a momentary decision, but rather countless daily, even moment by moment decisions to grow in love and virtue; to participate in prayer and the sacraments, cooperating with the grace of God to become better versions of ourselves.

And those choices? Made every moment of our lives? They can only be made through continual acts of The Will.

It is often said that the devil’s greatest coup would be to convince the world that he doesn’t exist. That may be true. But his second greatest coup?

Could it be to convince you that you are helpless?

To make you believe that, in this moment, you cannot put down that doughnut. You will never lose that last ten pounds. You cannot limit your coffee intake to one cup a day. You cannot succeed long-term with an exercise routine. You cannot control that temper. You cannot resist that affair. You cannot afford to save for retirement. You cannot find the time to attend Mass today. You are too busy to pray the rosary. In fact, prayer in general is just too difficult. And the idea of making voluntary Sacrifices – are you kidding me?!

But these are all lies, lies, lies. The truth is that your will is in tact. In fact, according to Archbishop Fulton Sheen, it is the only thing you have that is truly yours:

There is only one thing in the world that is definitely and absolutely your own, and that is your will. Health, power, possessions and honor can all be snatched from you, but your will is irrevocably your own, even in hell. Hence, nothing really matters in life, except what you do with your will. — Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Seven Words of Jesus and Mary, p. 25

Despite what the media says, despite what the “professionals” in the world of psychology say, regardless of what your best friend tells you,

you can put down that doughnut. You can lose that last ten pounds. You can limit your consumption. You can find time to exercise today. You can control you temper. You can resist that affair. You can save for retirement. You can find time to pray. You can grow in virtue. You can become a saint!

In order to obtain heaven, two ingredients are required:

God’s grace.
Your will.

The world has done a great job of convincing us that neither exists.

But the world is wrong.

But my will is weak, you say. Yes. I’m sure it is. There is only One Perfect Will. And while we share in God’s image, our fallen nature, like a leaden weight, seems destined to keep us from soaring to great heights.  But your will is there. And God’s grace is the chisel that will cut away the lead; for through Him all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). And His power is made perfect in weakness (1 Corinthians 9).

By convincing us to disengage the will from our decisions, as opposed to actively directing the “self” toward the good, the devil has triumphantly succeeded in weakening it, if not destroying it altogether. (Ever heard the phrase, “use it or lose it“?) But just as not exercising the will causes it to become listless and weak, stepping up to the plate and engaging the will, even in small ways, will strengthen it. We can strengthen the will by actively pursuing good, and by developing habits and relationships that reinforce that pursuit and encourage us in our progress.

Freedom makes man responsible for his acts to the extent that they are voluntary. Progress in virtue, knowledge of the good, and ascesis enhance the  mastery of the will over its acts. (CCC #1734) (emphasis mine)

The will plays a pivotal role in both our physical and spiritual lives. Do not believe the lies. Not only does your health depend on your ability to see the lies for what they are; your salvation depends upon it as well. For how can you unite your will to God’s if you believe you have no power to do so? God is faithful. He has provided us with everything we need in order to pursue sanctity. And the gift of the will is a necessary component:

God does not require of us the martyrdom of the body; He requires only the martyrdom of the heart and the will. — St. John Vianney


Artwork: Cupid Overcoming Pan by David Teniers the Younger (1610-1690)

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