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“Ask a Priest: What If I Pray a Lot But Don’t Feel Closer to Jesus?”
Q: How does one know if he/she is disposed to receive the graces of Communion? I wonder because, for one thing, it is hard to be patient with difficult family members, and if I have so much trouble loving others, then how can I love Christ? I have been going to daily Mass, confession at least twice a month, often weekly, daily rosaries and read the daily Mass readings before Mass and reflect on them. Recently I have been trying to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. I also volunteer at the church food pantry and spend at least an hour a week in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I have the desire for holy Communion but often do not feel any closer to Christ, and I know it’s my fault, not his. Lately the scriptural “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him” [Job 13:15] comes to mind. – M.S.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: If you are doing all those things you mention with good intention, don’t worry. You are likely receiving grace from your communions.
The point of prayer, etc., is to give glory to God and to help you stay humble. It’s not about consolation.
If you don’t feel any consolation, it is possible that God is simply purifying you.
The fact that you continue to pray, despite the lack of consolation, means that you are making a greater effort to pray; you are using your will to help you focus on prayer. All that is good.
Jesus might be closer to you now than ever before. If you feel a bit in the dark and can’t feel his presence, relax. Sometimes the darkness can be a sign of God’s closeness.
That might sound counterintuitive. But remember, God is mysterious. Growth in holiness is ultimately God’s work in you; it’s not something you earn by your deeds.
It would be good to stay the course for now. Think about finding a solid spiritual director or regular confessor who can guide you. And keep working on the charity with the difficult family members.
Perhaps your problem is not that you don’t love them. You might just have trouble liking them in any given moment. But liking is not the same as loving. Loving means you want the best for them and that you are willing to sacrifice for them.
A book that might help you is When the Well Runs Dry: Prayer Beyond the Beginnings, by Jesuit Father Thomas Green.
Count on my prayers.
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