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5 Habits That Are Hazardous To Your (Spiritual) Health


 

Although Lent is winding to a close, there is still plenty of time to work on the many bad habits that hurt our relationship with the Lord. If you were to make even the smallest progress overcoming one of your bad habits, then your Lent would be a success. While God never expects us to overcome our imperfections by ourselves, He does expect us to take the first step and try to fight against these tendencies. Here are 5 bad habits that, if not controlled, will keep you from growing closer to Christ. Are they the worst ones in the world? Maybe or maybe not, but every one of these tendencies will keep you from being the best Catholic you can be.

1. Anger – Despite the Lord’s repeated warnings, we often feel justified getting angry with others on a daily basis. Anger can be lethal to our spiritual lives and should be high on our list of faults to eliminate this Lent. How can we overcome it? With lots of prayer, receiving the Sacraments and by reading (and re-reading) the Lord’s words:

“You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.” (Mt 5:21-22)

2. Impatience – Although this fault is more subtle than anger, it can be very destructive to our spiritual lives. St. Paul tells us that “love is patient and kind” (1 Cor 13:4) and to “be patient with them all” (1 Thess 5:14), but we tend to lose sight of this when someone doesn’t move fast enough or disagrees with us. Let’s face it, we get annoyed with others several times each day, despite the fact that God is ALWAYS patient with us. For many years, I was a lukewarm, apathetic Catholic who’s purpose in life was to have a good time. By the grace of God, I’m still here and so are you. We should work on becoming more patient while we still have time. As a word of warning, if you pray to become more patient, expect people to pop up in your life who will give you PLENTY of practice!

3. Worry – Often we think of worry as something that’s inevitable. Many people have told me that “everyone worries”. I disagree. I’ve met people who, although they experience fear and even anxiety, don’t worry. Why? Because they have a deep trust in God. This is going to be painful to hear, but when we worry, we tell God that we don’t trust Him. Even though He tells us in Scripture that “all things work for the good” (Rom 8:28), we sometimes worry about events that are happening or MAY happen in our lives. Citing the previous Bible verse in his book Uniformity With God’s Will, St. Alphonsus Liguori stated that if God sends us suffering, it’s for our own good. After proclaiming the famous “Let not your hearts be troubled” (Jn 14:1), Jesus told us to believe in God and to believe in Him. Do we?

4. Lack of Charity – In our zeal to spread the “Good News” of our Faith, we sometimes overlook the need to do it WITH CHARITY. I’ll defer to Sts. Peter and Paul, who make the point more effectively than I ever could:

Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence. (1 Pt 3:15)

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Cor 13:1-3)

5. Over Sensitivity To Criticism – We sometimes try harder to please others than to please Christ. Many of us “like to be liked” and that desire can sometimes get in the way of our relationship with the Lord. Today’s world is not very friendly to Catholicism and the message of Jesus Christ. When we live and share our faith, we can expect to be criticized. In fact, the Lord told us exactly what would happen when He said “you will be hated by all for my name’s sake” (Mk 13:13). A bitter pill to swallow, right? Maybe, until we hear what He says next. “But he who endures to the end will be saved”! As we continue to travel the road to heaven, we should strive to make all of our actions pleasing to Jesus. As long as we do that, we’re in great shape!

If you’re like me and can identify with more than one of these bad habits, don’t panic! Pick one of them and make up your mind to use the remainder of Lent to work on it. Above all, don’t forget to ask the Lord for the grace needed to improve. Also, make it a point to receive additional grace through the Sacrament of Confession. Once you begin to see good progress (and you will, if you keep at it), tackle another one and keep going. While working on our bad habits should be a year round pursuit, Lent is a great time to get started. When we start to attack our faults like this, Jesus begins to increase (in us) and we begin to decrease (Jn 3:30). Ultimately, we’ll be able to echo the words of St. Paul and proclaim:

“It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal 2:20)

20 Comments

  1. kathy petersen says:

    Thanks so much for this advice. I was in tears at mass today having messed up this Lent with anger, impatience, nagging my children and husband. And then I still go receive our Lord in communion. But I have hope now even at this late stage.

    1. Gary Zimak says:

      Join the club, Kathy! As long as we keep trying, the Lord will be very happy with us. I’ll keep you in my prayers and would appreciate it if you pray for me as well!

      God Bless,
      Gary

  2. Catherine Douglas says:

    I try to read as much as I can about being a better Catholic. But I seem to have a short attention span. But reading THIS was very much, short, sweet, and to the point. I feel I have gained much by this and can only hope that I remember to pray upon these a lot more!! Thank you Gary Zimak!!!

    1. Gary Zimak says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Catherine. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      God Bless,
      Gary

  3. Kathleen Scharlau says:

    Just heard you on Relevant Radio discussing ’5 Habits That Are Hazardous to Your Spiritual Health. Thank you, Gary. Just what I needed this morning and every morning to work on each day!
    God bless.

    1. Gary Zimak says:

      Glad to be of service, Kathleen.

      God Bless,
      Gary

  4. [...] you’d like to read more about these bad habits, you can do so here. Although this list is not all encompassing, every one of these bad habits will keep you from [...]

  5. Roy Banes says:

    This is exactly what I needed to read in order to enable myself to finish out this Lenten period right.. I of course will continue working on these faults one at a time, in order to maybe cancel them all out of my life before I pass on. Thanks Gary, this is great spiritual food for the likes of me, of whom am full of faults. God Bless you abundantly and your family as well.

    1. Gary Zimak says:

      My pleasure, Roy. Wishing you and your family a blessed Holy Week and a joyous Easter!

  6. Victor John says:

    Many years ago, I use to have a terrible temper, little patience etc. I started trading hearts with God every morning. Before shaving I would say something like this, ” I give you my heart Jesus with all its anger, all its worries, all its frustrations, and all its weaknesses. In exchange please give me your heart with all its patience, all its kindness, all its gentleness, all its understanding and self control. Let your heart, your love, your joy, and your peace reside in me. Thank you Jesus for this grace. I then forgot about it until the next morning. It was several months later when I began to reflect on when was the last time I had gotten angry. I couldn’t remember. Jesus had acted on my words to this day. However, the one on sensitivity I never thought of, I think that is a good one to work on now. Have a Blessed Easter!

  7. Walt says:

    Thank you Gary. For me at least, you could not have written a more timely, helpful and empowering article. I thank you for that and may you and your family have a most joyful Easter this year.

    1. Gary Zimak says:

      My pleasure, Walt. Easter blessings to you and yours as well!

  8. Larry says:

    Gary, have we met? (smile) You seem to know me so well! (smile)
    Thanks for this post – it gives me great hope that with the Lord’s help, I can finallly rid myself of some of these ‘thorns”.

    1. Gary Zimak says:

      That’s funny, Larry…I thought I was writing about myself ;-) Glad you enjoyed the post, brother. Have a blessed Holy Week and a joyous Easter!

  9. Ada says:

    Thanks for this I struggle with this everyday. I needed to read this. .Happy Easter

    1. Gary Zimak says:

      Thank you, Ada. Easter blessings to you and yours as well!

  10. Anna says:

    You were talking exactly about me. I know I get angry easily, but I did not want to see my impatience and lack of charity and the rest that goes with it. I started to pray 3 Hail Mary’s each night and every morning to overcome my sinfulness. With Mary’s help I hope to succeed to be more patient and charitable with people around me. Please pray for me. Your post helped open my eyes to see within myself and use the rest of Lent more successfully. Happy Easter.

  11. Ray Barney says:

    Thank you for acknowledging what I suspect is happening this lent to me. I have been angry and frustrated with some incidents beyond my control this lenten season and I am not trying hard enough to forgive and be at peace. This is certainly a lack of trust which I am sure God’s aware of and finds harmful to me and my relationships with others. The novena to St. Joseph is helpful and my goal this lent has been to increase saying the rosary to three times daily. So far I have made it three times, but God is forgiving towards my weakness that words from you make my efforts seem worthwhile. Thank you so much…

  12. ann says:

    Great article. Going to confession this Thursday for Easter and this sure helped me to see I have more to say than I thought. Happy and Blessed Easter to all!

  13. El Gato says:

    A great article. These indeed are worrisome habits. I found that daily prayer, start with just one “Our Father” a day, everyday starts one on the road to controlling these habits.

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