But who will endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears? For he is like the refiner’s fire… (Mal 3:2)
I BELIEVE we are drawing nearer and nearer to the dawning of The Day of the Lord. As a sign of this, we are beginning to feel the heat of the approaching Sun of Justice. That is, there seems to be a growing intensity in purifying trials as we near the Refiner’s Fire… just as one does not need to touch the flames to feel the fire’s heat.
OF THAT DAY
See, your king shall come to you… The warrior’s bow shall be banished, and he shall proclaim peace to the nations. His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth. (Zech 9:9-10)
Zechariah numbers this remnant approximately one third of the inhabitants of the earth. This third will enter this Era through a Great Purification:
In all the land, says the LORD, two thirds of them shall be cut off and perish, and one third shall be left. I will bring the one third through fire, and I will refine them as silver is refined, and I will test them as gold is tested. (Zech 13:8-9)
So, as St. Peter says, do not feel “as if something strange were happening to you.” Enter the desert of purification, for this is the only passageway to the Promised Land. Rejoice that you are made to suffer for the sake of the Gospel, for enduring whatever trials come while trusting in God and accepting them as His will is, in fact, suffering for the Gospel.
Do not be discouraged.
One of the main reasons Satan throws spiritual noise at us (see The Thirteenth Man) is to bring about confusion. It is in this state of poverty that many of us give in to the temptation to become discouraged. Yes, confusion is the footprint of discouragement.
I believe it was St. Pio who said that the chief weapon of the enemy is discouragement. Other great spiritual directors such as St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Alphonsus of Liguori teach that, second only to sin, discouragement is Satan’s most effective temptation.
If we contemplate our misery without raising our eyes to God, the Father of mercies, we will easily become discouraged. By examining ourselves thoroughly, we will see that discouragement always comes from two closely related causes. The first is that we depend upon our own strength; through it our pride is wounded and deceived when we fall. The second is that we lack reliance on God; we do not think of referring to Him in times of prosperity, nor do we have recourse to Him when we fail Him. In short, we act by ourselves: we try to succeed alone, we fall alone, and alone we contemplate our fall. The result of such conduct can only be discouragement. —Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, Divine Intimacy
If you let your heart become once again like a little child, the dark clouds of discouragement will evaporate, the roaring crowd of internal noise will gradually fall silent, and you will no longer feel you are alone on the field facing impossible odds. If you are in a situation beyond your strength and control, abandon yourself to God’s will, expressed in this cross.
If you are discouraged because of your sinfulness, do not depend on your virtue or the strength of your case before God. Rather, depend entirely upon His mercy, for no one is righteous. We are all sinners. But this is not a cause for discouragement, for Christ came for sinners!
God never rejects the sincere, even if they have a mountain of sins and failures in their past. For faith, the size of a mustard seed—that is, trust in God’s mercy and the free gift of salvation—can move mountains.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn. (Psalm 51)
You should not be discouraged, because if there is in the soul a continual effort to improve, the Lord will finally reward you by suddenly making all the virtues blossom in you as in a garden full of flowers. —St. Pio
Lastly, let us remember that in the end we will be judged not on how loved we feel, but on how much we ourselves have loved. There is a danger in our trials of becoming too introspective—spending the day gazing at our misery and misfortune. Jesus provides us with the greatest antidote to discouragement, fear, sense of abandonment, and spiritual paralysis: love.
How can we rejoice in the Lord if He is far from us? … If He is, that is your doing. Love, and He will draw near; love, and He will dwell within you… Are you puzzled to know how it is that He will be with you if you love? God is love. —St. Augustine, from a sermon; Liturgy of the Hours, Vol IV, p. 551
Let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Pt 4:8)