Objective Truth Series – reflections article #9
In our last reflection we considered some methods on how we can be on our guard against pride. We discussed how the devil can find our weak spot and subsequently attack us. Two typical ways the devil works against us weak humans with our fallen human nature, is to tempt us with frustration and discouragement. If we look at the word frustration, it is easy to see how it is precisely a tool of the devil. The dictionary explains that the word frustration comes from the Latin word frustrare meaning to deceive, and then that frustra means vain, or useless. The definition of frustrate is “1) to bring to nothing; defeat, also to nullify, and 2) implies a rendering vain or ineffectual all efforts, however feeble or vigorous.” This shows the subtle trap of the devil who wants us to give up making any efforts.
This trap can likewise be seen in the following definitions for some synonyms of frustrate.
· Thwart – frustration by running counter to one’s making headway.
· Foil – a repulse that destroys one’s inclination to go further.
· Baffle- a frustration by confusing or puzzling.
· Balk – implies frustration by interposing obstacles or hindrances.
It is very interesting to note the thread that all these definitions have in common is that to be frustrated is not for our good. One can see how frustrations are a diabolical trap to foster demonic pride – precisely because to be frustrated is to not put sole trust in God and His provident care for us. It is to allow ourselves to get upset or discouraged because something did not turn out the way we wanted, namely, we didn’t get our way in something. It encourages us to be self-centered and not God-centered which is how pride works. Likewise, the devil uses frustration to foster discouragement in us so we give up trying to cooperate with God in our salvation.
“For if a man be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass. For he beheld himself, and went his way, and presently forgot what manner of man he was.” St. James, 1:23-24.
We forget what manner of man we are, namely, a creature who depends on God. When we get frustrated, we simply forget our dependence on God and that we can do nothing without Him. To be frustrated is to really not look for God’s Will in the circumstances at hand. We must remember God allows circumstances for the greater good – “all things work for the good for those who love God.” We must remind ourselves, “This is for my good.”
Likewise, when we are tempted to discouragement, it is important to note that this discouragement really comes from the devil because he wants us to think that we can accomplish something by ourselves, without God’s help. And when we fail to succeed, we are disheartened. This is the method the devil uses to get us to give up.
As we discussed in the last reflection, we must do an agere contra [counter–action] immediately in order to combat this trick of Satan. For example, we must reflect that God wills that we suffer patiently and humble ourselves. Moreover, the learning of virtue takes practice over time. Other possible agere contras that we could say within ourselves are: “Everything is in Thy Hands, O Lord”; “Thy will be done, O Lord, not my will,” or “What will this [circumstance] matter after I’m dead?”
Another agere contra to use when one is discouraged, is to try to get one’s mind off of himself by thinking of the needs of others. For example, there are so many pagans in the world that need to be converted. As our Lady of Fatima said that so many souls go to hell because they have no one to pray for them.
One could then think how much God has blest him with so many undeserved blessings. Further, counting one’s blessings is another powerful way to go against Satan’s pomps and works and to foster humility.
Last, but not least, is to pray – whether it be an ejaculation or longer prayer – in order to fight against the temptation to be frustrated or discouraged.
With the above in mind one sees his great need to beg the Holy Ghost for His Light and His Grace to want God’s Will always to reign in us, and the following may come to mind:
O Holy Ghost, O Paraclete,
Why do I try, to e’er compete?
Against Thy Will, and what’s in store,
Why do I not, Thy guidance implore?
How could I think, my way is best?
And see events, as only a pest?
Why do I, second guess Thy Will?
And thinking, I know better still?
And as a result, I do find,
Only frustration, in my mind,
True peace within, cannot exist,
When I try, Thy Will to resist.
Then comes the, “feel sorry for me,”
Getting my fill of self-pity,
Discouragement, then takes its hold,
Shame on me, for being so bold.
Let me see, Lord, my only need,
Only with Thy Will, am I freed,
From endless worry in my life,
That there should not be any strife.
‘Tis only Thy Will, should be sought,
And only my will, should be fought,
Thou dost send me, what is sublime,
Looking for Thy Will, all the time.
There’s only one, true joy for me,
That is to stay, one heart with Thee,
Not for myself, anything seek,
I want to be, like Thee so Meek.
For this I pray, that Thou wouldst grant,
Thy Holy Will, in my heart plant,
So firmly in me, I won’t desire,
To ever leave, Thy Guiding Fire.
Then e’er Thy Will, would be my goal.
Filling me, with wonder, in my soul,
Then thou wouldst be, Oh Paraclete,
My happiness, ever complete!
 Webster’s 6th New Collegiate Dictionary [emphasis added]