Charlie's Blog: Sensibility Applied to the Spiritual Dimension


Sensibility Applied to the Spiritual Dimension

A sensible mind is a medium mind which is neither too great nor too little.

My accident and my injuries gave me a gift. This was the gift of sensibility. Before my accident, I was very hard on myself. I was a failure in my own eyes, and I thought the way to remedy this failure was to try harder. This meant going to extremes. I was an extremist. After the accident, I had to come off of that extremism. I had to go easy on myself. Sensibility replaced my extremism, and I learned that I do not have to be superhuman. I just need to be me. This means being consistent on modest goals instead of being inconsistent on extreme goals. That is the heart of sensibility.

I apply sensibility to everything I do now. This includes my life as a Roman Catholic. People go to extremes in their spiritual practices, but this extremism doesn't produce the fruit of sanctity and holiness. Extremism just feeds the pride and vanity of the individual. This vanity is antithetical to holiness. Realizing this, I have used sensibility to chart a different path under the inspiration of Saint Francis de Sales.

1. Cults

It will come as a newsflash that there are cults in the Roman Catholic Church. These cults exist because the lay faithful pewsitters feel that something is missing, and they would be correct. Vatican II and the Novus Ordo liturgy have worked to water down and diminish the faith. The antidote is a return to what things were like pre-Vatican II. Instead, cults promise to fill what is missing in parish life and personal devotions. One of these cults is Opus Dei. There are others.

I reject these cults now and follow the path of Saint Francis de Sales in his brilliant book, Introduction to the Devout Life. Nothing that Josemaria Escriva said, wrote, or thought compares to what is in the writings of Saint Francis de Sales. Escriva is a counterfeit saint while Saint Francis de Sales was the genuine thing. You don't need a cult to become holy. Everything you need is there in your parish and in the time honored writings and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. You don't need anything special or extra to become holy and devout. You just need to use what God has already given you.

2. Labels

The only label I care to have now is "Roman Catholic." I don't care about "traditionalist," "conservative", or "modernist" except as adjectives for certain strains of thought within Catholicism. The reality is that these labels create camps that each have errors. A great example would be trads who see a couple with less than 10 kids and assume that they must be on the Pill. I assume those trads are on the dole.

The vast majority of Roman Catholics do not attend the Traditional Latin Mass. Attendance at the TLM is sort of a requirement to be considered a trad. I am not driving more than an hour each weekend to get to a TLM, and I am not moving. I looked into this and considered moving to be closer to the TLM. Now, the TLM is on the verge of being cancelled everywhere except SSPX chapels. It is a moving target that you are unlikely to hit for very long.

I need valid sacraments. A reverent liturgy is a bonus but unnecessary to receive the graces of those sacraments. My top preference is for the TLM. My second preference is a reverent Novus Ordo. Trads would rather deprive themselves of the sacraments than receive them at a Novus Ordo Mass. At this stage, these folks care more for the purity of their label than the practice of their faith.

I am not playing the label game anymore. God in His providence and through Cardinal Ottaviani preserved the validity of our sacraments in the Novus Ordo. Because of this, I will continue to receive those sacraments where they are available. The TLM will have to come to me now. Until then, I do the best I can with what I have where I am at. I am a Roman Catholic. I don't need additional qualifiers to that label.

3. Devotions

There are more devotions in the Catholic Church than I can count along with sacramentals. I think they all have value, but I think it is extreme and foolish to try and have them all. I limit myself to the basic ones like the Rosary, the Angelus, the Brown Scapular, the Sacred Heart Litany, and wearing a Franciscan tau cross. My strategy is to practice a few devotions consistently than many devotions inconsistently.

When it comes to my prayers, I don't even try to pray the Divine Office. I leave that to priests and religious. I don't know how a layperson can pray the Office and hold down a day job or tend to a family. I may revisit this in the future.

I have added the prayers of the Auxilium Christianorum to my routine. This has been in response to the demonic attacks in my life. Those prayers have been a real blessing to my wife and me.

I think you can add additional prayers and devotions if they have particular value to you. My rule is to only do those things you can perform on a consistent basis. Right now, I am at my maximum for me. Do the basics and add the extras as needed.

4. Mortifications

I had a keen interest for awhile in corporal mortification practices. Now, I think they should be reserved to priests and religious under spiritual direction. The fact is that normal life has enough mortification to endure all by itself. I think priests and religious need mortification practices because they are insulated from the world in much the same way that an office worker needs to hit the gym while a farmer doesn't.

My mortifications are trying to recover from a traumatic brain injury, do my chores under my present limitations, and endure the usual calamities that life throws at all of us. When I compare my sufferings to the mortifications of monks, I think I have endured more than a simple hairshirt or discipline can deliver.

5. Works

I attend a parish that is part of what I call the "Church of Ceaseless Activity." This comes from the modernists and semi-modernists who would like to turn the Catholic Church into an NGO. Their good works amount to raising money for Marxism and illegal immigration, and I have to endure the pitches each weekend at Mass.

I take inspiration from Saint Therese of Lisieux aka the "Little Flower" who yearned to be a foreign missionary and do spectacular things for God. Instead, she had to forge her Little Way. Therese never became a missionary or a martyr. She never left her monastery. She was a nobody except for her autobiography which has inspired many to live holy lives despite being nobodies themselves.

The Little Way fits perfectly into the teachings of Saint Francis de Sales. The Church of Ceaseless Activity believes in neither the great way of a Saint Francis Xavier or the Little Way of Saint Therese. It strips supernatural faith and love from its works and turns to worldly cares and honors. I have had my fill of it.

I focus on doing my little works for God. I don't go into details about this stuff because they are small and done for the Lord. I am never going to build an orphanage or a hospital, but I can do other things relative to where I am. I am no philanthropist. I am just a blue collar working class Roman Catholic.


I know what I need to do and where I need to go on these things. I am not perfect, but I am trying. That's all that any of us can do. I have simply stepped back from extreme ways and come up for air on this stuff. As I said, it is better to be consistent in the modest things than inconsistent on the great things. This is how I apply sensibility to the spiritual dimension of my life.