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Fr. Bob at pulpit during Easter Vigil

The World is Pre-occupied by Feelings

The world does everything by feelings. In fact, it is pre-occupied with feelings. We live in the world and are bound to be affected by it, though Jesus did say we were not to be "of the world." (John 17:16) We have to know that it is very possible for us to get too involved with our feelings. Discernment is more than getting in touch with my feelings. 

Marriage partner decisions today are, of course, based upon feelings. This may not be working too well. Modern marriage is in serious trouble. Love is as much a  decision, and a daily one at that, as it is a feeling. The spouse I'm looking for needs to be the one the Lord wants to lead me to, not the one I'm "falling in love" with right now. Our experience tells that we can fall in and out of love, and back in, many different times and with many different people. 

It may sound as though we are teaching that feelings are of no value, or that we must deny them, or that there is no point in taking them into account. Quite contrary. Feelings are extremely valuable. We just have to try to understand how they work. While they are not very good discernment factors, they are excellent signals for us. They tell us where we're at, not where to go. They can give us warning, tell us what to avoid. If it's anger or hatred we are feeling, we will have to be careful what we do or say about it. 

Our feelings are not our enemies. They are not sinful. It is not a sin to feel emotions. It is as natural to hate as it is to love. The sin is in how we treat people we have bad feelings about. We must not deny our feelings. We must have them and find some effective way of dealing with them. 

But, we must not base decisions upon how we feel. The reason they are not reliable in this way is two-fold: the general woundedness (from sin) of human nature, and the constant brainwashing about feelings that we get from the world. It has an effect upon us whether we like it or not. 

"The transforming action of the Holy Spirit, his power to heal, will have, as one of its objectives, the healing of my emotions. If we allow him, the Lord will work within us to bring our feelings into line so that they, more and more, will instinctively support his word within us. Some people are farther along the road to wholeness than others. That's just the way it is. It is important for each of us to know where we stand." 

Our feelings are meant to be great assets to us. But they are not to be factors in discernment. God's peace is what we need. It is a priceless gift. It produces deep conviction within me, and I will know when I have it. 

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