“As a mom of a two year old girl, I’ve become aware of the struggles of “normal” toddler behavior. One of the more frustrating aspects of the toddler psychological profile is the tendency to heed the parent’s command for a brief two seconds before recommencing the undesirable behavior. It’s a little game to them, though they don’t even know it. Listen to Mommy. But wait, it’s more fun to do what she asked me not to do. I’ll do that instead. Now I’m in trouble. Listen to Mommy. Rinse and repeat. Obviously, it’s a game they win. I mean, not that the parents don’t try to win, but almost any adult who’s interacted with a young toddler knows that a battle of the wills doesn’t get anyone anywhere. So we try, again and again to stop the naughtiness, only to have it rear its ugly head the moment we turn our backs (or not; the toddler knows no shame).
I realized, while pushing down the anger and frustration over my daughter’s inability to control herself once again this weekend, that spiritually speaking, I’m very much like a toddler.
“That’s wrong. It will hurt you,” says God.
“Ok, I’ll stop,” I reply.
Two hours, two minutes, or two days later…guess what? There I go again. The same sin, the same struggle, the same lack of self-control. And I’m an adult, fully rational, and very well-formed. My daughter is still learning to correctly identify primary colors. I’m fairly certain that God doesn’t rant and rave or even huff in disgust when I (again) do what He’s expressly asked me not to do, for my own good. And at the same time, He doesn’t lower the standards just because I’m not exactly meeting them.
I can read parenting advice books and blogs until the cows come home, but there’s a pretty great blueprint of how to discipline that’s been around since the world began. I can find it in the grace of Christ’s forgiveness in the confessional, and in the story of redemption played out over and over in the Bible. Hopefully, I can remember it better the next time my toddler scratches the baby, throws food on the floor, and so forth. The path to perfection is a gentle slope, and we’re all a bit like toddlers, stumbling our way up it to the merciful Father.”
His Grace is THE answer!!! Pray for it! Wait for it! Ask for it! Beg for it! It will, it does come. I have felt it, and been suddenly surprised at growing strength to resist temptation. Strength I did not, do not possess, without Him (Jn 15:5). I promise. I do.
Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it."- Bl John Henry Newman, Cong. Orat., "The harm that comes to souls from the lack of reading holy books makes me shudder . . . What power spiritual reading has to lead to a change of course, and to make even worldly people enter into the way of perfection." –St. Padre Pio, "Screens may grab our attention, but books change our lives!" – Word on Fire, "Reading has made many saints!" -St Josemaría Escrivá, "Do you pray? You speak to the Bridegroom. Do you read? He speaks to you." —St. Jerome, from his Letter 22 to Eustochium, "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, "Without good books and spiritual reading, it will be morally impossible to save our souls." —St. Alphonsus Liguori, "God here speaks to souls through…good books“ – St Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, "You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.” -St Athanasius, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth. “When we pray we talk to God; when we read God talks to us…All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.” -St Isidore of Seville, “Also in some meditations today I earnestly asked our Lord to watch over my compositions that they might do me no harm through the enmity or imprudence of any man or my own; that He would have them as His own and employ or not employ them as He should see fit. And this I believe is heard.” -GM Hopkins, SJ, "Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book." — St. John Bosco, "Why don't you try explaining it to them?" – cf St Peter Canisius, SJ, Doctor of the Church, Doctor of the Catechism, "Already I was coming to appreciate that often apologetics consists of offering theological eye glasses of varying prescriptions to an inquirer. Only one prescription will give him clear sight; all the others will give him at best indistinct sight. What you want him to see—some particular truth of the Faith—will remain fuzzy to him until you come across theological eye glasses that precisely compensate for his particular defect of vision." -Karl Keating, "The more perfectly we know God, the more perfectly we love Him." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP, ST, I-II,67,6 ad 3, “But always when I was without a book, my soul would at once become disturbed, and my thoughts wandered." —St. Teresa of Avila, "Let those who think I have said too little and those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I have said just enough thank God with me." –St. Augustine, "Without good books and spiritual reading, it will be morally impossible to save our souls." —St. Alphonsus Liguori "Never read books you aren't sure about. . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?" -St. John Bosco " To teach in order to lead others to faith is the task of every preacher and of each believer." —St. Thomas Aquinas, OP. "Prayer purifies us, reading instructs us. Both are good when both are possible. Otherwise, prayer is better than reading." –St. Isidore of Seville “The aid of spiritual books is for you a necessity.… You, who are in the midst of battle, must protect yourself with the buckler of holy thoughts drawn from good books.” -St. John Chrysostom