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Away with Spiritual Envy!

July 25, 2015 by  
Filed under Connie Rossini, Envy, Humility, Trust in God

Away with spiritual envy!

It's so easy to be influenced by the attitudes of the culture. We fight against a utilitarian attitude when we fight assisted suicide and euthanasia. We know that being is more important than doing. Yet, in our own lives, we often feel unworthy when we see all our weaknesses.

ModificationOfHopeInAPrisonOfDespairSpiritual envy and despair are twin sisters. One says, “It's not fair! I don't have the graces that God gave someone else! Why can't I be a saint too?” The other says, “I can't get anything right in my spiritual life. I might as well stop trying.”

The truth is, God foresaw your weaknesses and shortcomings from the time He planned to create you. He worked them into the symphony of redemption. You are indispensible for God's plan for the world and the Church!

Only you can love God with your whole heart, mind, and soul. Only you can give Him the gift of yourself. That is what He asks of you.

Looking at someone else's gifts will make you restless and unhappy. If God thought you needed those gifts, He would have given them to you. Instead, focus on what He has given you. If it seems that all you have is weakness, give Him that. Surrender your fears, your disappointments, your rejection, your illnesses, your sadness, your psychological problems, your poverty, your short-sightedness, your mistakes. No one else can do that in your place.

Sometimes I hear people say how unfair it is that they were not given the grace to be a saint. My reply? Maybe you were, and you just didn't use it. The grace God gives you doesn't have to look like someone else's. Maybe you failed to recognize the gift. Besides, saints are not born holy. They become holy by responding faithfully to the grace God gives them. Then He gives them more, and they respond faithfully again, the grace growing and growing inside them until the end of their lives.

Maybe the first thing you need to do is to accept that you aren't someone else. You are your own glorious self, made in God's image. Can you begin accepting what He has given you, however paltry it might seem? Can you bow before God's will, saying, “You know best, O Lord?”

St. Thérèse of Lisieux taught us that saints are not made through great deeds. They are made through surrender. And surrender is something everyone can practice. As Teresa of Avila was fond of saying, you can “make a virtue of ModifiedDetailKarlskircheFrescoHumilitasHumilitynecessity.” Resisting God's plan, thinking sanctity would have been so much easier, if only… Such things take you in the wrong direction.

Humility means accepting who you are. It is the foundation of the spiritual life. Holiness is not about doing great things for God, as though you were a super hero. It's about surrender to Him, so that He can use you the way He desires, whether it be to do great or small things. You can become holy lying in a hospital bed, when the world thinks you are accomplishing nothing.


Art: Modification of Hope in a Prison of Despair, Evelyn De Morgan, 1887, PD; Modified detail of Allegory of Humility, Johann Michael Rottmayr, 1714, CCA-SA; both Wikimedia Commons.

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About Connie Rossini

Connie Rossini gives whole families practical help to grow in holiness. She is the author of several books, including "Trusting God with St. Thérèse" and her latest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila written with Dan Burke. Besides her blog Contemplative Homeschool, she has started a new site discussing errors concerning prayer, named after her book Is Centering Prayer Catholic? She has written a spirituality column for the diocesan press for nearly ten years.

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  • Good reflection! Just a question, what would you call it if you felt bad because someone you love doesn’t or can no longer (they passed away) have the graces and blessings God gives you? You pray for it but nothing seems to be happening. I suppose what is good for me may not be good for them. But it still bothers me people I care about don’t have a close relationship with Jesus.

    • Isobel

      I have been marrried to my husband for 50 years and he was Baptised at Easter 2014 at the age of 72. So I had to wait a long time for his conversion. He received many blessings but did not see them. Now he does and how wonderful it is! Pray incessantly…never give the Lord!

      • LizEst

        Beautiful! I am reminded of something from the Letter of St. James (whose feast day it is today): “…whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20). God bless you, Isobel! What wonderful faith you have.

        • Isobel

          Thank you LizEst. God has given us so many joys and blessings and He has answered my prayers. I just had to wait awhile! MariaGo, don’t let it trouble you. Hand your worries to Jesus that’s what He tells us. “Come to me all you who are burdened and I will give you rest.” Go to Adoration regularly, it is then that somehow Jesus just lifts out the worry and replaces it with peace. It works..try it!

    • Of course it bothers you, because you want the best for them. Just entrust them to God. If they have passed away, your prayers and sacrifices may be helping them without your being able to see it. That blindness on your part could even make the deal reciprocal–both of you benefiting from God’s work in each other’s lives. I have people very close to me who don’t believe in anything. This is also a call to surrender, just from a different perspective than I wrote about. Other than that, I don’t know that it has a name. Prayers for you and your loved ones!

  • nosidam


  • Diana Marie Winkler

    God has made us “one of a kind.” I feel He has done that for a reason. He takes each of our uniqueness and gifts to further His Kingdom. Don’t judge your gifts by the world’s ideas. What may be small to others may be just what He is looking for to assist another. After reading The Confessions by St. Augustine and his conversion I realized Sainthood was not out of my reach! I actually penned a quote….Before They Were Saints–They Were Us—Strive For Sainthood© I now know that everyday with the Lord is one day closer for Sainthood!

  • ruth

    I love this–sounds very much like St. Francis de Sales who I absolutely adore-

  • Nancy Ward

    Connie, I love the way you so boldly and practically boil sainthood down to surrender of everything we are or have or think we need. Often spiritual writers mention obedience without bringing in surrender, but ya can’t have one without the other!

    • Thanks, Nancy! So true about obedience and surrender. To me, obedience can sound hard and dry, but surrender sounds easier and more peaceful. All I have to do is let go. Then I can obey with joy.

      • Nancy Ward


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