December 1, 2012

Sober Vigilance and Unconquered Hope

Times of tribulation require sober vigilance.  Hardships drive many to various forms of insobriety.  For others, these trials excite all kinds of anxiety.  If we are not watchful, we can easily find ourselves insnared in all kinds of evil.

Our faith in Christ demands that we not allow ourselves to be overcome by evil but rather we must find ways to overcome evil with good.  If we allow ourselves to be dissipated by either anxiety or insobriety, we will not have the interior fortitude we need to escape the spiritual traps that are set for us.   How are we to preserve our strength and not lose heart in the face of great evil?  Jesus exhorts us to pray if we are to find the strength to stand firm with Him.

Unceasing prayer is the secret of a vigilant heart.   In the beginning, this kind of prayer does not exempt us from moments of anger or distress.   What it does do is permeate these movements of heart with hidden riches of hope.   Likewise, unceasing prayer does not decrease exterior trials - if anything, souls that attempt to pray without ceasing must face more trials than do others.   I think this is because God is mercifully at work in all the hardships in the world and when a soul is joined to God by prayer, the Lord constantly draws that soul into His work, allowing the prayerful heart to participate in his plan of love - which is to overcome evil with good.

The soul that keeps its eyes fixed on Christ crucified through all of this acquires the secret of not being overcome and learns how to not lose heart.   No matter the evil - the sudden discovery of cancer, the unexpected death of a loved one, the loss of a job, a horrible accident, a failed marriage, a betrayal of a friend, a public humiliation, a false accusation, the mockery of the oppressive - a soul that constantly hopes in the love of God might suffer a moment of dismay but never remains trapped in disappointment.  Instead, the vigilant are continually caught up in surprised wonder over the astounding ways the Lord shows forth His faithfulness.


  1. Dear Dr. Lilles,

    It's as if God allowed you to look into my heart here in Milwaukee all the way from where you are in Colorado because these words of yours have spoken to the deepest pain in my heart today. I know that what you have written will touch many people, but as far as I am concerned, you wrote them for me alone and you have brought me peace. Thank you!

  2. Dr. Lilles,

    Thank you again for sharing your gifts of wisdom and teaching.

    Also, praying in the sacraments of Eucharist and Confession are especially helpful; they drive prayer.

  3. " If we allow ourselves to be dissipated by either anxiety or insobriety, we will not have the interior fortitude we need to escape the spiritual traps that are set for us." Wow. I never thought about it that way, but very true. I guess it is like a battle - fight hard when the enemy first assails you, because once you are pushed back into anxiety, then the lost territory is much harder to regain. It is the little choices each moment that add up.

  4. This post reminded me of an image I once had of what working for Him is really like: not as I had hoped, which was a cushy office job with a king taking care of all the hard parts, but more like being dropping into war-torn Afganistan, with no supplies, no contacts, no direct instructions, wearing American clothes. As a woman. Wearing jeans. I am slowly learning to trust Him despite all that, and to make progress, I think. Thanks, your post spoke to me at exactly the moment I needed it yesterday.

  5. Reading this on Mon morning. It must be your openness to the Holy Spirit that allows you to so beautifully express what I and so many feel: that these words were meant for ME, right now, perfectly. Grazie mille, Dr. Lilles!