3 Questions to Determine Your Spiritual Progress by Fr. Thomas Dubay

In the first chapter of his book, Saints: A Closer Look, Fr. Thomas Dubay states that the #1 trait of all saints is that they are “head over heels in love with God… “madly in love” with God” (9).

To make this more concrete and practical, he states the following on page 11.

“To get the feel for having God himself as our consuming concern, which is indeed lofty sanctity, we might ask ourselves a few telltale questions:

1. What do I like to do with my free time? 

We always make time for what we love. So what do you make time for? Do you use your free time watching TV? scrolling through Instagram? Or in prayer?

The average American spends around 5 hours in front of the television every day. Imagine how different society would be if that time was spent in prayer, in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

2. What do I like to talk about when there is someone who cares to listen?

You could also ask what do you like to post on social media as well? and what would your friends and family say you like to speak about with them?

“Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Mt 12:34).

3. Am I trying seriously to be rid of my venial sins?

Far too often, we have a remarkable resistance to giving up our petty clingings, our deliberate willed venial sins. Are you going to choose to love God completely? If so, you must make a serious effort to cooperate with God’s purifying graces to overcome all deliberate, willed venial sins.

“The reader should notice that when we speak above about “willed venial sins” the first adjective is important indeed. Without intellectual awareness and, therefore, freedom there is no willing, no sin. We are talking about things we can control, not mere mistakes, not mere feelings, which to a large extent we cannot control. For example, it is not a sin to feel impatient when children or adults annoy us by obnoxious behavior, especially when it is repeated or persistent. Sin here means guilt. There is no guilt, thus no sin unless we freely choose some wrong action or omission. To snap back at a person usually is a free action and thus with guilt. We ordinarily can control what we say. If one has the habit of snapping when annoyed, he ought to work at getting rid of the habit. Another example: it is not a sin to feel grouchy, but it can be a sin to be grouchy—after all, while we cannot fully control how we feel, we can make an effort to be pleasant even on a hard day. A third example: an unchaste thought flitting through one’s mind, but with no will behind it, is not guilt laden, not a sin” (Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer, 30-31).

In his book, Deep Conversion / Deep Prayer, Fr. Dubay states that venial sins “do not destroy one’s essential love for God and neighbor, but they do wound it. Even though they are not colossal, they remain disorders. They cool but do not extinguish the love relationship with God and our neighbor” (30).

Some examples include: ordinary gossiping, overeating, bickering, snapping, fighting, laziness, grouchiness, grudges, pouting, indulgence in superfluities, wasting time with media, and so on.

St. Teresa of Avila attests to this truth: “May it please His Majesty that we fear Him whom we ought to fear, and understand that one venial sin can do us more harm than all hell together; for that is the truth” (The Life, 226).

“Progress toward God,” Dubay states, “is indicated much more by actual choices than by pious feelings.”

Some final thoughts:

  1. Choose today to spend your free time with God in prayer. Go visit Him in Eucharistic adoration.
  2. Choose today to speak about God. Tell others about your journey of faith. 
  3. Choose today to seriously be rid of all your venial sins. Go to Confession. Develop a holy hatred of whatever continues to come up during your examination of consciences. 

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