Summary of Lukewarmness: The Devil in Disguise by Francisco Carvajal

Lukewarmness: The Devil in Disguise by Francisco Caravajal, Sinag-tala Publishers, 1978

Joy

Joy should be normal for a Christian because “he always has in him the source of his joy” (7). As a result, regardless of whatever trials and difficulties the Christian faces, “he can be required to be cheerful” (7).

“As a man he may have varied reasons to be sad, but as a Christian, he will always have at least one reason to be cheerful: he is a son of God” (7).

“The greater and graver the hardship that threatens our joy, the more must we take refuge in this fundamental truth of Christianity: we are sons of God” (8).

Being joyful is one of the best ways to thank God, to love others, and to grow spiritually.

“We ourselves also need joy, for our own interior life. It is difficult, perhaps even impossible, to progress on the road of love of God if one is unhappy. St. Thomas expressly says: “he who wishes to advance in his spiritual life necessarily needs to have joy” (Commentary on Philippians, 4.1) (11).

Lukewarmness: General

If we are not joyful, something is wrong in our soul. This is called lukewarmness. It is a grave sickness that can occur at any stage of the interior life.

The lukewarm refuse to fight the little battles. By a small series of infidelities, they evict God from their hearts little by little. Their souls become lax and they begin to tolerate venial sins. Discouragement and sadness set in. Prayer is vague. The desire for the things of God slowly diminishes.

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The “normal” Christian today is lukewarm. And the lukewarm Christian is incapable of bringing others to Christ. Without a real interior life, without intimacy with God, the lukewarm Christian will bear no apostolic fruit.

“The lukewarm has put love aside. His heart is full of little egoisms, and of sought-for compensations from his vicinity. A clear symptom of lukewarmness is to continuously have more “things”, more whims, more needs, and increase in attachments. Perhaps, more than a symptom, it is the result: an interior vacuum has been produced which must be filled up” (33).

Lukewarmness: Venial Sins

The clearest symptom of lukewarmness is the toleration venial sins without any fight in order not to commit them; and without any contrition if we fall into them. This is the death of the interior life.

“Each venial sin is a step away from our friendship with Jesus Christ” (94).

We must fight daily against deliberate venial sins. We should ask God for the grace to know the magnitude of just one venial sin and to have the firm desire to remove ourselves from the domain of sin. We should pray that we be aware of sin.

“The interior life truly begins when the soul firmly resolves to battle against venial sin” (92).

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Fighting Lukewarmness: Little Things

“Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.” — Luke 16:10

We must make a joyful effort in the “supernatural sport of overcoming ourselves,” in being faithful to the little things.

“As in human love, our love for God is shown in the care for little things. The neglect of these details manifests laziness, tepidity: the loss of love” (52).

Little mortifications must fill up our entire day. The daily Cross always leads to joy.

“He has the spirit of penance who knows how to conquer himself each day, offering to the Lord, without show, a thousand little things. That is the sacrificial love which God expects of us.” — St. Josemaria Escriva

“A smile can sometimes be the best demonstration of a spirit of penance.” — St. Josemaria Escriva

Something as simple as a well-done genuflection or a charitable tone of voice can be a great way to fight lukewarmness.

“The Christian life is a continuous beginning again each day. It renews itself over and over.” — St. Josemaria Escriva, Christ is Passing By, 114

“He who does not advance, slides back.” – St. Gregory the Great

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Fighting Lukewarmness: General Examen & Particular Examen

The examination of conscience, with the help of God’s grace, will help us to know ourselves as we really are, that is, as we are in the eyes of God.

“The general examination is a weapon of defense. The particular, of attack. The first is the shield. The second, the sword.” — St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, 238

“The Christian should frequently examine himself as to whether he is detached from material goods and also from his own desires and plans. He should check whether he is vigilant in order not to fall into a life of ease, or of indulgence which is improper of a follower of Christ” (37).

“The particular examination is a brief and repeated examination on a very definite point of a defect which we want to remove or of a virtue which we wish to acquire. This examination keeps the fighting spirit firm all day long. It is the best antidote to lukewarmness” (29).

“Ask for light. Insist on it… until the root is laid bare and you can get at it with your battle axe: the particular examination.”— St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, 240

Fighting Lukewarmness: Frequent Confession

Frequent and careful confession is one of the key ways to prevent lukewarmness in our souls.

We must never despair. Nothing is totally lost. We can always start afresh.

“Here everything works towards security against tepidity. First, we find ourselves obliged to examine ourselves with greater seriousness, to elaborate more carefully the acts of repentance and resolution of amendment, and to think more conscientiously and decisively about improving our life. Moreover, in this sacrament the very power of Christ operates in us. In this holy sacrament, the Lord reposes all his interest in filling us with hatred of sin, in strengthening our will for God’s total glorification, in inspiring us to be fully faithful in his service, and to dedicate our will completely to it. Finally, he supports the counsels of the confessor who, in every confession, exhorts and encourages us to persevere in the way of holiness with all zeal. Indeed, one of the main considerations for putting a high value on frequent confession is that, if done properly, it makes the state of tepidity entirely impossible. This conviction may lie at the base of the Church’s very insistent exhortation that we go to confession often, or at least once a week. For this reason also, frequent confession should be for us an important and sacred objective. And for the same reason we ought to do it well, and better each time.” — Fr. Baur, Frequent Confession

Fighting Lukewarmness: Spiritual Direction

We should confessor regularly to one who knows our soul. A good spiritual director helps us to fight against lukewarmness.

“He who has a director whom he obeys without reservation and in all things, will attain his end much more easily than if he were alone, even if he possessed the sharpest intelligence and the most learned books on spiritual things.” — St. Vincent Ferrer

Fighting Lukewarmness: Marian Devotion

“The love of our Mother will be the breath that kindles into a living flame the embers of virtue that are hidden under the ashes of your indifference.” — St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, 492

Mary is the short cut, the shortest route, to reach the power of Jesus.

“It is impossible for lukewarmness to nestle in a heart which is in love with the Virgin and where devotion to her is kept alive. For the Virgin prepares the heart to understand and to serve God. She impels it towards the apostolate. She leads it to a sincere life and to confession. She incites us to always begin again, and she obtains the abundant grace to follow the Lord. There is no other cure as effective to avoid tepidity, or for getting out of it, than a deep devotion to Mary” (138).

Comments

  1. I never thought of myself as necessarily lukewarm, but if not being joyful is an indicator, I guess I need to rethink it. Thanks for the post.

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