“How impervious to things spiritual, my heart! No savor in pious reading, no pleasure in meditation nor in prayer!” – St. Bernard
Quite often in my discussion with some of my more nontraditional Evangelical friends, and even among modern Catholics I hear them talk of how they don’t like the Catholic church, or for the Catholics, don’t like some priests, because they don’t feel uplifted or consolidated. What I mean by this is that many people seek God with the wrong intention, or for a better word, expectation. People want to “feel” uplifted, consolidated, happy or affirmed. They want an experience, not a trial or the truth. It is no wonder that Joel Olsteen is one of the most popular telievangelists. He tells you what you want to hear. That if you follow God he will reward you with riches, and happiness and all sorts of temporal gifts. This is a problem.
The Christian road is not shortcut to a better life. On the contrary it is much of the time a trial, a hardship full of suffering. This is not to say that you won’t find peace, because if done correctly God will bring you peace and joy. But peace and joy are not “feelings” or emotions, but states of being. In all the turmoil be at peace and know that God is with you and that in the end he will have the last word. Be joyous knowing that if you follow God you will attain the kingdom of heaven. Joy is a state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is a settled state of contentment, confidence and hope. Happiness on the other hand is a fleeting feeling. One can be unhappy, yet joyous. One can be in the midst of much turmoil around them, yet be at peace.
This is important to understand. The pursuit of a pious life is not one of an easy path, it will require much of you. Consolidations are reserved for the untried soul to keep them on the path to sanctity. But as many of the Saints show us, these consolidations will fade once one truly picks up their cross. The true rewards abide in heaven and are reserved for those who attain it. The earthly life is a place to gain merit, which can only be achieved through suffering. To lead this life you must seek the truth and accept it, and that truth is many times harsh and difficult to accept.
So I say to you, do not seek a religious service that panders to your feelings, but one that seeks to worship God in the most reverent way possible. Put your mind on God, and not on your own desires, but on his will. It will require all that you have to attain salvation, but the reward is for eternity.
Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10