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Seasonal Slump

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By Terry Peloquin (Dec 9, 2018)
Ever hear of the "Sophomore Slump?" It has other names, but basically it means a second ("sophomore") effort pales in comparison to the standard set by the first. We see it in school, in athletics, and in entertainment. Each begins with a great deal of excitement over the newness of the situation, then relaxes — even to the point of complacency or apathy.

This kind of disappointing sequel can happen to us spiritually. Take a look at this season of Advent. For the First Sunday of Advent, we posted several ideas to help prepare your heart for Christmas (see last week's Advent reflection). If you chose an activity or two, great! If you're still going strong at it, congratulations! You're an exception to the rule. Most folks, however, will succumb to sophomoric weakness.

For whatever reason, if your Second Week of Advent sees preparation efforts that aren't quite as intense, what can you do now?

Welcome a Lesson in Humility
Let's cut ourselves a little slack. Only God is perfect.

Accepting we have room to improve is part of being humble. When we don't do as well — or as much — as we had expected, it teaches us humility. That humility, in turn, teaches us something more. As St. Faustina records:

Humility, humility, and ever humility, as we can do nothing of ourselves; all is purely and simply God's grace (Diary, 55).


And again:

Whatever I do, I do not rely on my own strength, but on God's grace. With God's grace a soul can overcome the greatest difficulties (Diary, 287).


Personally, I love this quote from C.S. Lewis:

The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.


Why should we rely on ourselves? It's a losing game! Humility teaches us to rely on God's grace. Humility also allows God's grace to reach us. When St. Faustina was a novice, she received this advice from the Mother Directress:

Remember this, Sister, for your whole life: as waters flow from the mountains down into the valleys, so, too, do God's graces flow only into humble souls (Diary, 55).


Humility of the Christ Child
We know from Jesus' words that He is humble, and He tells us to be humble as well. At a time when His disciples asked Him who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, He responded in this way:

He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, "Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,* you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me (Mt 18:2-5).


Throughout her Diary, St. Faustina records the personal lessons she received from Jesus.

Holy Hour. During this hour, I tried to meditate on the Lord's Passion. But my soul was filled with joy, and suddenly I saw the Child Jesus. But His majesty penetrated me to such an extent that I said, "Jesus, You are so little, and yet I know that You are my Creator and Lord." And Jesus answered me, I am, and I keep company with you as a child to teach you humility and simplicity (Diary, 184).


And again:

Once, when I saw Jesus in the form of a small child, I asked, "Jesus, why do you now take on the form of a child when You commune with me? In spite of this, I still see in You the infinite God, my Lord and Creator." Jesus replied that until I learned simplicity and humility, He would commune with me as a little child (Diary, 335).


From Slump to Comeback
We still have two more Sundays to prepare our hearts for Christmas. So, this week, practice humility. Trust God. Say short exclamatory prayers to show your reliance on Him. Offer a short "Jesus, I trust in You!" for the grace to carry on.

This theme of trust and humility will lead us into next week's theme: repentance.

So, if you hit a slump, now you can look forward to a big comeback.

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