Being a Christian has never been an easy gig.
There are more rules you have to abide by, regular obligations you must keep and a prayer routine you need to incorporate into your daily life – and all these apply even more stringently if you’re Catholic or Orthodox.
Of course, we Christians would argue that because of this, life has much greater depth, purpose and meaning as well. Penance and mortification, fasting and abstinence, keeping up daily prayer – these are all hard, but then we also get to experience the love and mercy of Jesus Christ, which makes all the challenges of Christianity more than worth it. Not to mention the abundant graces God showers on us when we actively trust Him and do His will.
However, being a Christian seems to have gotten so much harder in recent times. I’m not talking about the last few decades, I’m talking about the last 10 years.
Maybe it’s just me, but the combination of instantaneous information consumption (via social media) and the steep nosedive the world has taken towards self-destruction through the vehicles of political correctness, identity politics, modernism, et al, seem to have ramped things up in intensity, and in a very short space of time.
The moral malaise that has gripped our civilisation is spreading, and spreading fast, and in its wake has emerged what I can only describe as a spiritual fatigue. Just being a Christian today is positively exhausting!
Virtually every single time we read the news, watch online videos or view our social media feeds we’re subjected to a barrage of politically-charged nonsense aimed at attacking or undermining our most fundamental beliefs, often in the guise of innocent, compassionate (virtue-signalling) sentiment.
Even if you only view news sites or watch videos that reflect your own world view, they still discuss or expose the outright insanity that the world has begun to clothe itself in; or you might be exposed to ads that do the same thing. It is impossible to escape.
I’m not saying we should get off social media entirely to avoid all this (although I think that would probably do everyone a lot of good) because there is arguably something to be gained by keeping voices that oppose the mainstream present in these spaces. Also for some, it may be their only outlet to hear from and speak to other like-minded people. Perhaps social media is a necessary evil now. Yet escaping from the online world doesn’t address the main problem, either.
Even if we switch off social media and news outlets, the constant attacks on our faith will still continue to happen in the world around us. Not exposing ourselves to them might bring some (temporary) peace of mind, but protecting ourselves through ignorance cannot be the solution either.
I guess what I’m trying to acknowledge here is that if you’re feeling this spiritual fatigue like I am, that’s okay! In fact, I think it’s completely normal, given the circumstances. I’m not even really in the firing line like many other brave souls who are publicly fighting for Christian values. But you don’t have to be to feel the effects of this malaise.
For some of us, all we can do is grit our teeth and bear it, to keep our jobs, to keep our friends, or simply to get through the day. And that can be exhausting. It’s exhausting in a way non-Christians probably cannot comprehend. Christians have faced many hard times throughout the last 2000 years, and this is no exception. I’m tempted to say it’s worse than it’s ever been because, unlike the outright persecution Christians faced in the past, this nefarious, subtle pressure to conform is constant. Dripping away at our resolve like water on a stone. In some ways I think it would be better to be persecuted openly, because at least it would very quickly separate the wheat from the chaff in the Church.
Apart from having an active prayer life and a loving, trusting relationship with God, it’s important to support each other through these hard times. If I’m feeling it, and you’re feeling it, then at least we know the spiritual fatigue is real and shared. It means we don’t need to feel so isolated, or that there’s something wrong with us.
There is nothing wrong with you – the world is what’s wrong. Our society, which celebrates sin and condemns virtue, is what’s wrong. That’s what’s twisted; that’s what’s upside down. And as with women who get so discouraged they’re tempted to throw away their values for the sake of a relationship, there is a very real temptation to fall in line with the world; to abandon our values and what God commands of us because it’s so much easier to conform.
Yet it is crucial not to despair! And I think the only way to get through this trying period with our hope intact is through prayer and communion with our fellow Christians. If you don’t have good Christian friends or a Christian community, or at least one which shares your values, find one – even if it’s just online. Having a community of support is vital, and second in importance only to prayer. We need to pray for the strength to endure all the trials we’re facing or will face in our lives. We need to pray every single day, morning and night (and in between if you can manage it).
Our Lord told us not to worry, and we shouldn’t. But I think it is important to acknowledge that it takes a lot of strength and conviction to remain true to our Christian beliefs in the face of such antagonism and opposition. So don’t be hard on yourself. Acknowledge that it’s tough, but that Christ will always give you the strength and the grace to get through whatever trials and challenges He lets you face – as long as you turn to Him!
Lord, thank you for the beauty and love you scattered on my path, they reminded me of your constant presence.
Thank you for the challenges, they reminded me of my weakness.
Thank you for my confusion, it reminded me to call upon your presence. Amen.
13 thoughts on “Spiritual fatigue: being Christian in the 21st century”
You’re quite right: it’s much harder to live out the Christian virtues today than even a decade ago. The dominant culture has been captured by those who celebrate vice, whether it be in terms of lust, gluttony, avarice, or sloth. The result, though, is that the Christian must be sharper in terms of arguments, study and — above all — charity. The Christian cannot “coast” because s/he no longer lives in a Christian milieu.
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That’s a beautiful prayer, it has both an uncanny resonance and prophetic resemblance when considered alongside the words of Mary McKillop.It went something like this(I’m recalling from memory)”Although our bodies are thrust upon the hearth of a cold ,cruel and heartless world,so long as we have charity in our hearts and our intention is pure,we need not fear”.
My Dementia is being kind to me,I just realised there was little bit more to the above post than meets the eye,(after heartless world),should read)it is then when these storm clouds gather that we seek refuge in the abyss of the heart,and it is there that my soul is a peace in the realisation that” so long ……………….
It seems to me that secularism (or multiculturalism) is itself a religion born out of the wreckage of Protestantism. Call me a skeptic when it comes to this new religion. Among other absurdities, the new faith elevates to the level of martyr people who engage in risky sexual behavior. Makes a lot of sense!
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How devout were these girls in the first place considering that they readily discarded their beliefs for some guy?
They remind me of Joshua Harris, who seems to have thrown away his beliefs because they had become inconvenient for him.
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Sean are you tempting me?Im not sure how to respond,but I do know there are two certainties in the constant of stupidity.Firstly at the level of the world in matters of Darwinian importance its looks that count ,and secondly when your standing in the middle of a busy intersection timing becomes a “matter”of urgency and concern.
Sean following Anna’s tip in lieu of yours I went to wiki and there was some info there as well as in Anna’s research on JH. There is an irony in a strip of quotes to the side of the wiki article. Quote” The thing about relationships is when your in one they consume your focus” ie one has purpose.And further along the article itself he states he no longer considers himself a Christian.Maybe I’m drawing longbow here, but when friendships breakdown it hurts and quiet often people lose their focus(zest) for life. And secondly he may well not consider himself a Christian at this point ,maybe because of bitterness and this does not accord with the central tenet of Christianity ,that of forgiveness specifically of himself ,therefore he feels unchristianlike. This is all in realm of hypo/perthetics but could this be a plausible or insane proposition on my part that he has turned his back on every thing he held dear in his book because his not himself. There’s agony and hope😃
Sean I think your probably right ,we have right and wrong,good and bad,high and low.Simple guys like us would draw the inference that the world /reality is polar(I’m sorry I think we can dispense with the truth and surplant that with the bad reality ,that of the inconvenient truth).what we need is a nonsensical reality where bad is the new good,wrong now rights the wrong as it is the new right,and the higher reality is to be subjectified and now becomes of the world (got to be happy with that).I’m sorry but I’m having a bit of trouble reconciling this;but there is hope,I can see a drinking problem coming my way,now it all makes sense,depravity is the new morality,and Sean I won’t call you a skeptic because that would be a case of the pot calling the kettle black. And that my friend is the real reality,it is agony but there is hope!
I think you need to examine the world around you with a critical eye. Look at the secularist religion critically. Do the same with Christianity. Why do we believe what we do? Will the authority of the secularist religion collapse at some point in the coming decades?
Look at how Catholic Quebec was in the old days. During the Quiet Revolution the Church collapsed within the span of a few years. Will the same happen with secularism?
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Please correct if I’m wrong my friend ,my take on the first part of the question is that the log in the eye belongs to both of us ,because the societies we live in are both secular and Christian and I guess we have to ask ourselves if secularisation has been able to take hold, is it because good men have stood in passive silence? In the second part of the question we do what we do because we believe that’s the truth and therefore that’s the way,but in a secular society we have lost our focus on the truth,therefore we reap what we sow and in the secular process we gain the world at the expense of the soul. The next question relating to the secularist religion collapse is not an easy one to answer but I would say yes to a notion of probability that the world has intractable problems that will not and cannot and have never been solved at the level of the mind ,the turnaround that is required and sort can only reached with the only tool left at our disposal,the one the builders rejected,the dejected and rejected heart. Secularism can only be defeated if our hearts are in it and this can only be achieved through education and generational renewal of societies moral bearings and compass.
I wonder if part of the exhaustion you are feeling has to do with the notion of having to “earn” God’s love and mercy through “Penance and mortification, fasting and abstinence, keeping up daily prayer” or the belief that God will only shower us with grace “when we actively trust Him and do His will.” Spiritual practices and rituals are enriching, but God’s love is free!