“Ask a Priest: How Can I Avoid Being a Lukewarm Soul?”

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Q: After reading what Jesus said about the lukewarm, I certainly want to avoid this. I read that even if you go to Mass each week and pray often, you can still be a lukewarm soul. As a young kid in today’s world, what can I do to avoid becoming lukewarm (or cold for that matter)? Thanks. – M.J.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It’s great that you are already perceiving the risk of being lukewarm and having a desire to avoid it.

One answer is to have high goals. Jesus calls you to be a saint, nothing less.

That means we aren’t satisfied with just attending Mass on Sundays. We want to grow in virtue and we want to try to evangelize the culture around us. These go hand in hand. The more we share the faith, the stronger we become in it. And the first people we need to evangelize is ourselves.

A few practical steps might help for growth in holiness.

First, make time for prayer every day. Ideally we should pray in the morning, around midday and at night, at least. It helps to read a bit of the Gospels each day. Get to know the person of Jesus. He is your best friend. It would be good to pray the rosary daily, too.

Second, frequent reception of the sacraments is crucial. It helps to find a solid, regular confessor who can guide you. Aim for at least monthly confession if you can.

Third, it would be good to get involved in some kind of Church-related work, such as working in soup kitchens or visiting shut-ins. This helps us see where other people are and how much they suffer.

Fourth, try to read books that inspire you. Lives of the saints can give us great examples.

Fifth, think about doing a retreat sometime. That can be a great opportunity to go deep in our spiritual life and see where God is leading us.

Sixth – and this is crucial in today’s culture – program your time well. You want to avoid of trap of so many people who build their lives around TV, movies and web browsing.

Also helpful would be to connect with groups either in person or online that could support you in the faith. Groups such as Life Teen and, later in college, FOCUS could help.

Try to get to Eucharistic adoration, too. Time spent with Our Lord in the chapel is some of the most valuable time we’ll have in this world.

Maybe this prayer from St. Richard of Chichester is worth keeping in mind: “Day by day, dear Lord, of you three things I pray: to see you more clearly, love you more dearly, follow you more nearly, day by day.”

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  1. Remember, don’t be discouraged by ‘slips’ . . . the grace of being forgiven is there 7 x 70 x in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. (behind a screen, just you and the Lord God) Say sorry with firm purpose to amend a way of the human nature AND HIS GRACE is back again.

  2. I always wonder, when I read advice such as this: “What do the “shut-ins” do?” Or when they say, “Give to the poor”, to whom do the poor give? I guess one tries to give to one poorer, or if already a “shut-in” (chronically ill or elderly), one tries to look in on neighbors– if possible. But being in this situation myself, it’s something I’ve often thought about. What if one is homeless? Well, this is written for a young person, so I guess these ruminations don’t apply. Also, many “shut-ins” are no longer in institutions, but at home; how would a young person even know about them? Though I guess there are still nursing homes. If he/she could become an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist (or whatever it’s now called) and bring Communion to someone in his/her home, that would be wonderful.
    Blessings to all, this Lent!

  3. Many (not all) younger persons can always find a ‘shut in’ . . . young being ‘relative’ / a 65 year old is certainly younger than a neighbor who is 70 – 95 years of age. (as simple as waving hello as elder sits on porch) or maybe bringing over baked goods and sharing when elder is seen on porch or in yard. A 10 year old is younger than a 14 – 17 year old. A 14 year old ‘grounded’ and feeling down (hopefully for knowing he or she did wrong) might learn from a 10 year old sibling who plays a game with the older ‘shut in’ sibling.

    Giving to ‘the poor’ . . . poor also is relative. There are some who ‘the world’ thinks is poor for not having the latest big screen TV, or electronic device . . . who are very CONTENT with what God did provide for them. (Top of the list IS FAITH, which leads to doing as ought, which provides good health (for not overindulging on Fast Food burgers and fries) So, who is POOR? Those without FAITH. So, those WITH FAITH are rich, despite what a bank book officially says… and such persons of FAITH are AWARE of how they can give to . . . ANY OTHER person… even those with big wages, cars, and big bank accounts. PERSONS rich in faith, give THE PRAYERS to those they deem to be poor.

    What to do about those ‘homeless?’ This is also another reason for attending to The Worship as ONE BODY OF CHRIST (church) . . . the church ‘et al’ may offer the homebound meals, gives to those in the Missions to feed and care for and pray for those who are ‘without home,’ Many churches serve in church sponsored soup kitchens and any who are in need of ‘a room’ . . . the ministerial priesthood has ways of connecting persons with help. One such organization is Catholic Charities.

    We ACTING IN CHRIST who is with us, can help ‘one neighbor’ or MANY persons — as we ‘hear to do’ by the Holy Spirit. Just to be young and be there for mom/ dad or widowed parent… is to serve another. and WE THE BODY OF CHRIST . . . work to prevent that which brings people to homeless status: we elect those who are not just ‘giving tax dollars’ to ‘poor’ / we elect those who support free enterprise so that an economy flourishes and the poor can take care of the own needs, we vote in REPRESENTATIVES who write the common good laws that keep DRUGS out of ‘working class’ communities, we IN CHRIST vote laws that support FAMILY… not ‘kill family life.’ Whether any want to obey such common good law… is their free will. They who do ‘their own thing’ . . . usually ‘suffer consequences’ called ‘poor.’ (which some representatives
    then ‘jump on’ for their own motive of ‘being so good to the poor’ (ignoring the flow of drugs to a community and BAD ACTIONS looked other way.)

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