The interior life revolves around grace and self-knowledge. Jesus gives us his grace freely, but he expects us to apply it and practice it. We must discover our predominant fault in order to root it out with his grace. There is a simple strategy in doing this.
First, we must be motivated to know ourselves well enough to be willing to eradicate the fault. Sometimes we are too sensitive and too worried about protecting our feelings. This symptom of pride will only prevent us from achieving the greatness to which God has called us. Keep this in mind when wrestling with motivation.
We must also be willing to be precise in discovering our faults. For example, to say “I struggle with pride; I’ll work on that today,” is so general as to be useless. Rather, seek to find a specific manifestation of pride in yourself today. You may be too competitive with a neighbor or coworker or you may “fly off the handle” too easily when not getting your way. These are specific enough for you to actually work on them.
After these preliminary considerations, we need to get serious in finding out about ourselves. Obviously, we ask God for this insight in prayer. When God responds, these insights can come suddenly. In order for us to be good listeners, we must pray regularly and develop the ability to sit in silence.
In addition, it may be helpful to ask others close to us to help us see our faults. For married couples, I am sure your spouse will be only too willing to help you with this! We should also pay attention to two phenomena: noticing the faults that bother us the most in other people (because we often have this fault ourselves) and listening to constructive criticism. The criticism that stings the most is the one that hits closest to home.
In these ways, we will gain valuable insight into ourselves and discover things we may otherwise have never known. One final note, we should also accept this criticism without offering excuses.
Next Issue: Penance and purification: discovering our predominant fault (Part 2).