How To Profit From Our Defects


from the Catholic Family Magazine, Australia

– Hello Father. Sorry for being so late but I had to wait for the babysitter to come so that I could leave the house. I am glad to be able to come tonight for our little talk.

– Well, the subject I want to talk to you about is one of the most important in the spiritual life. It is how we can and even should profit from our faults. I believe that a good understanding of this question is a tremendous help in order to maintain peace of soul and make progress in union with God.

– But, Father I thought that our faults were an obstacle on the way to perfection. What kind of profit can I draw from my weakness which causes me to fall everyday into so many sins of impatience? What sort of advantage can I obtain from my negligence which causes me to miss so many opportunities of little sacrifices?

Let me ask you one question: Have you made up your mind never to offend God deliberately? Are you sincerely seeking to obey His will in fulfilling your vocation of wife and mother?

If the answer is yes, then your faults should not be a source of sadness but an occasion to practice humility. St Theresa of the Child Jesus used to say: “I do not grieve in seeing that I am weakness itself. On the contrary, it is in this that I glory, and I expect each day to discover in myself new imperfections.”

She also wrote ” What does it matter to me to fall each moment? By that I feel my weakness and therein I find great profit.  My God, you see what I can do if You do not carry me in your arms!”

We have to realize that everything is either willed or permitted by God. In the designs of His providence, even our faults ought to serve for our sanctification. Alas, many good souls do not know how to cope with their defects. They are quickly discouraged at the sight of their misery, instead of making an act of humility.

St Paul says: “All things work together for the good of them that love God,” Yes, everything and St Augustine adds “even our sins”.

– I must admit, Father, that I often get frustrated at myself. I make good resolutions, and I cannot seem to be able to keep them! The other day I was pretty happy because I had found the time for a little bit of spiritual reading. I had also succeeded in remaining in the presence of God for most of the day.

And then in the evening, the twins started to fight in their room and I completely lost my temper with them. I yelled and screamed so loud that the neighbors next door must have heard me!

After this I felt so ashamed and angry with myself that I got depressed. When my husband came home, I am afraid he did not feel like talking to me since he saw that I was in a bad mood.

– Yes this is a good example of how the bad use we make of our faults does more damage to us than our faults themselves. Alas, it is our self-love which causes us to act this way.

I have myself the same problem. We priests also have to overcome our pride. You see, we should not get upset when we fall! I think we should rather be surprised that we do not fall more often.

We should also thank God for all the faults from which He preserves us. Let us not become troubled and agitated when we see ourselves so imperfect. We should always keep our peace of soul.

When we happen to commit a fault we should turn to God with humility and ask His forgiveness. And then we must never think about the fault again, until the time comes to mention it in confession.

– So you think it may be pride, Father, when I get discouraged at the sight of how little progress I make in the spiritual life?

– Yes, it is possible that your self-love causes you to desire to be exempt from imperfections and so you get upset when you realize that you are still committing many little faults every day.

God wants us to be humble. He needs this disposition in our souls in order to communicate to us His grace. This is why He often allows us to plagued with defects.

I think that, if we were to become perfect all of a sudden, it would make us very proud and it would cause our ruin.

God is a great and wise Master. Let Him do as He likes. He will not fail in His work of the sanctification of your soul. We should resolve never to willfully do anything that displeases Him.

But if, despite our goodwill, we fall into faults, let us rejoice in the humiliation into which these faults throw us. Once again, we should profit from our faults in order to destroy our self-complacency and give glory to our dear God.

– So Father, you think that my defects do not offend Our Lord? It really bothers me sometimes when I come to confession and I have the same faults to confess every month!

– I know your soul and I think that many of your faults are not deliberate. Let me take two examples. First Mrs. So-and-So is a real gossip and in the past when both of you were on the phone, you talked about your neighbors in an unkind way. So you perfectly know that she is an occasion of sin.

If one day you go ahead and call her on the phone and indulge in an uncharitable conversation, there is no doubt that you have committed a venial sin and hurt the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Second, Mrs. Such-and-Such is your good friend and one day she comes to visit you. During the conversation you both tell bits of news that you have learned about people (without previous malicious intention).

After she has left you realize that some of the things you revealed to her were unnecessary and may have caused such a person to decrease in her esteem. Well, it was not a deliberate sin on your part, but a fault of weakness.

Tell God that you are sorry and your act of humility will make up for whatever negligence there may have been and give glory to Him.

– Well, Father, I will follow your advice and ask Our Lord to give me humility of heart. if I see some good in me, I know it is from God and I will thank Him for it. If I see some evil, I know it is from me. I will not get discouraged but I will profit by it so as to humble myself.

– Good! And always remember what I told you before about the way of spiritual childhood. St Theresa teaches us to make ourselves as small as we can in our own eyes.

Look at little children. They often fall on the ground. But they do not hurt themselves because, so to speak, they never fall from any great height.

So also little souls. Their wounds are never very serious and they are healed as soon as they are wounded. Far from being a hindrance in the way of perfection, the experience of their faults makes them humble and is therefore an advantage.

St. Paul said “It is my weakness that makes all my strength.” Let us pray to God so that we may receive the grace of being like little children in His sight, humble and confident.

God bless you.

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