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Walking Alone wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • How do I reconcile finding Joy in God alone versus enjoying life on Earth when I'm supposed to practice dying to my earthly desires and wishes? . . . meaning denying myself things I want and controlling my impulses to act.
  • Is it possible to find union with God if I don't completely renounce the world and the things that give me pleasure in the world?

I have started to feel guilty when pleasure arises from eating, exercising, etc.

  • How do I find balance or is there a balance?
  • If I'm supposed to deny myself until I no longer have desires for things or people, what role does Marriage and children play?
  • How is that a sanctioned, Godly desire?
  • I'm supposed to detach from things I'm already attached to and yet it's okay to seek the ultimate attachments of all?
  • Why is Marriage a sacrament in the Catholic Church?

I find myself at an impasse where I don't get as excited about life anymore but I'm also not unified in my heart with God. I try and pray but am in anguish more often than not.

I am not depressed but I am not joyful either.

  • What should I do?

Walking Alone

  { How do I reconcile finding Joy in God vs. enjoying life on Earth while dying to my Earthly desires? }

Paul replied:

Dear Walking Alone,

I think you may have hit on the crux of the matter at the end of your first sentence.
( . . . meaning denying myself things I want and controlling my impulses to act.)

Self denial is a good practice in respect to controlling one's impulses — not because pleasure in itself is bad. God attached pleasure to important acts we perform, like eating and sexual love, because the (end/purpose) of surviving as an individual (food) and as a species (sex) is very good however, our nature and our world is tainted by sin.

Without self-discipline we can easily become obsessed or addicted to certain pleasures. Each of us as individuals knows our particular weaknesses. Hence, self-denial is a practice to bring about a proper balance within oneself. Whatever causes one to sin needs to be plucked out of our lives. As long as the natural purpose of the act is always respected, the pleasure that comes with it is to be enjoyed. As long as actions are of the natural order and contribute to the flourishing of human life, rather than selfishness that leads to stagnation, we are okay.

Therefore, penance and sacrifice are important practices in this life because our nature, due to original sin and our own sins, is too attracted to pleasure at the expense of purpose and can easily be a stumbling block to our loving God and neighbor as we ought.

Peace,

Paul
[Related Posting]

Bob replied:

Dear Walking Alone,

To add to Paul's reply, I would suggest checking our Matthew Kelly's book The Biggest Lie in Christianity. There is a whole program for Lent that you may want to consider; my wife and I are doing it and it is uplifting. Just peruse the website.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

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