Brothers and sisters in Christ. I have been going through a “test” of faith that I would regard as one of the most difficult of my life. I am well and very happy as a priest. Thanks be to God I have never doubted or regretted being a priest. God has been so good! Please read by article for my 25th anniversary as a priest two years ago. This time (without getting into details) God has allowed for my good a new test; a trial that He has asked of me of which a friend and brother in Christ calls a trial of “major league faith.” It is a “faith” that is dark— no feelings– and the trial is long. I have been in this trial for three years. St. Peter tells us in his first epistle to (1 Peter 1:6) to rejoice when we face various trials. All our trials are either God’s “positive” will or His “permissive” will (allowed by Him for our ultimate good). God must develop this “major league” faith so that we will not rely on pleasant feelings to remain faithful. In such trials God asks us to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). No matter how bad we may feel at times, He is still God and in control. Our understanding and feelings are so short sighted. We do not see well. So God asks of us to grow in “seeing” and a “knowing” that can only be developed in and through trials that will bring us to a state where little can really shake us. I came to realize that in the midst of my trial. I cannot lose my joy, otherwise, I have lost sight of God and the trial has been allowed to become bigger than God.
What helps us to “keep things in perspective“ is continually remain in spirit of thanksgiving as St. Paul reminds us to do in his letter to the Philippians (4:4–9). He wrote that letter from prison and yet he advices us to “rejoice in the Lord always” …and to offer prayers of thanksgiving. If the trial lasts for a long time God through “long suffering” is preparing us for a necessary preparation which will end in a great gift from God. Long suffering can be excruciating and seems as if we are being crushed. It is difficult to live in a state where one is not sure if he should go up or down, left or right. Isaiah 30:15, 18–21 gives us our plan of action. A “being still” and a “resting” in God that is full of HOPE. Hope is the virtue where we choose to make acts of trust that God is good and all will be well no matter what is the final outcome.
It is important to remember when we are filled with doubt and a sense of being utterly alone in this interior suffering, that what I feel is only my limited perspective. God is all knowing and all loving! He is still God no matter what I am feeling. The devil would want us to believe that what I feel is the true state of affairs. This is a lie! God wants to bring a soul to continual prayer of FIAT. We give God permission to act through this trial and we allow Him freedom to allow this trial to last the period of time He wishes. Why? God IS good (goodness) and He alone knows what we really need. This trust is worked out in time by waiting. To “wait” upon the Lord is in fact an interior martyrdom. It rips our interior being to shreds but we must be brought to a place where we abandon ourselves to Him, to His will alone. This work (of waiting) is good otherwise He would not be allowing it. A friend in the seminary would tell me every time we were entering a final exam week, “Philip, this will pass.” So, let us tell ourselves that this trial will pass. May we remain faithfull to our loving God who is always at work for our good . (Romans 8:28)