Spiritual problems versus worldly solutions

By Deacon Dave Farinelli, Guest Column

This Lenten season has been very fruitful for me. One of the opportunities I have taken advantage of is Matthew Kelly’s “Best Lent Ever” video series.

On the morning of March 30, the question he asked was “Are you trying to solve spiritual problems with worldly solutions?” I pondered this question in the context of marriage, and I believe we find ourselves in that exact situation.

It has been interesting for me to be involved with marriage preparation and marriage counseling for many years and dealing with many of the same issues over and over. Each couple coming in for preparation or help comes in with the idea they will receive the technique that will solve their issues. Then, they receive a technique and, for whatever reason, don’t use it.

Now we have two problems – the one they brought to the first session, and their “inability” to utilize the possible solution.

I attribute this chaos to the fact they have not placed “order” in their lives. By this I mean focusing on the real of order of life – relationship with God and relationships with others. Notice, I said relationship with God. If we don’t have a strong relationship with God, if we aren’t in the habit of speaking and listening to God concerning our lives, then we are speaking and listening to people for advice with our lives.

I have heard over and over again how difficult it is to love God when we have can’t love our neighbor. The same incongruence applies when our neighbor is our spouse.

Routinely, I have spoken with people concerning marital problems, believing going to church, receiving the sacraments, all the while not speaking to one another, refusing each other any form of intimacy and feeling justified. We have unique ways of rationalizing that sort of behavior.

The answer is simple; the implementation is a little more difficult. First, we have to come clean in our relationship with God. Invest our total selves into a deep relationship with God. Maybe it will mean going to confession, putting the elements of our lives which keep us separated from God out of our lives. As we began Lent with the admonition “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel,” it is a principle to live by daily. Once we have at least begun the task of building a relationship with Christ, we are then ready to rebuild our relationship with our spouse, relative or friend.

So, ask yourself if you have been approaching your issues grounded in the spiritual with worldly solutions. It may be time to change. If you would like to talk that out with someone, Catholic Counseling Center may be able to assist you. Give us a call at 861-6245. One of our counselors will be happy to help.

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