"I was almost in ecstasy the first month, but it all ended in a terrible fall."

Dear Father,

First of all, I would like to thank you for your wonderful site! I'm from Croatia. (I hope you know something about my country - 100th Papa's pastoral voyage out of Italy was to Croatia)

I've been reading your site for about a week, and I'm still completely overwhelmed. I read MANY of your homilies (the usual homily is hilarious), comments, reviews etc., and I just can't find right words (and my english is not so good) to express this feeling of accordance, I can feel it's a true spirit of the Church (no matter how demanding or hard a particular subject can be).

I can sense there's something wrong about beeing too conservative, but I much more dislike this modern liberalism or as you say watered-down catholicism.

You have answered to so many of my own questions and doubts I had, better than almost anything I read in the last 10 years (I'm 30 now), since I began to seriously read Bible, saints, theology and various spiritual books. Most of that time I remained agnostic, even though I really tried to return to Mother Church several times. The last episode, in 1999. lasted 5 months, I was almost in ecstasy the first month, but it all ended in a terrible fall. Nevertheless, I can still hear the God's calling: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."

Main problem is that I'm afraid that I have fallen so low, and my pride and egoism is so great, that I'm almost beyond salvation. I'm afraid that these words best apply to me:

For if they, having escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of (our) Lord and savior Jesus Christ, again become entangled and overcome by them, their last condition is worse than their first. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment handed down to them. What is expressed in the true proverb has happened to them, "The dog returns to its own vomit," and "A bathed sow returns to wallowing in the mire." (2 Pt 20-22)

And these:

For it is impossible in the case of those who have once been enlightened and tasted the heavenly gift and shared in the holy Spirit and tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to bring them to repentance again, since they are recrucifying the Son of God for themselves and holding him up to contempt. (Heb 6, 4-6)

None has ever given me satisfying explanation of those words from Heb. If you have any comments about this or experiences with anyone like me, please answer.

Sincerely,

Josip (ie Joseph)

P.S. (What an irony having that name and being almost opposite of St. Joseph)

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Dear Josip,

Wonderful to hear from you - and please accept my apologies for being so slow in responding. I did say a prayer for you when I received your email. I know how you feel. Even though I have been a priest for almost 32 years, I sometimes fall on my face spiritually and feel very discouraged about myself. But of course in the final analysis it is not about me and the good things I can do, but what Jesus can do through me. Unfortunately I keep forgetting that and he allows me to sink. I think that St. Therese said it the best:

"We would like never to fall. What an illusion! What does it matter, my Jesus, if I fall at every moment? I come to recognize by it how weak I am and that is gain for me. You see by that how little I am able to do and You will be more likely to carry me in your arms. If you do not do so, it is because you like to see me prostrate on the ground. Well, then, I am not going to worry, but I will always stretch out my suppliant arms toward You with great love. I cannot believe You would abandon me." (Letter to Celine, April 26, 1889) /therese.html

Keep placing your trust in Jesus every day, Josip. Little by little you will become like St. Joseph. Remember that at a certain point he was confused and wanted to throw in the towel. The important thing is not to despair, to fall away totally (as the words of Hebrews warns)

Prayers and blessings,

Fr. Phillip Bloom

P.S. By the way, congratulations on your excellent English. You may have seen on the website that my maternal grandparents came from Croatia, a little town called Brijest on the Peljesac peninsula. I learned enough Croatian to say a Mass there in 1971 after I was ordained. I was excited about the Pope's June visit to Croatia. What a great example of perseverance he is!

**********

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