Our Power of Estimation

“Dear Jesus, bless our power of estimation. Grant that we may quickly sense dangers to chastity, instinctively flee from them, and that we may never turn away from higher and more difficult goods for the sake of sinful self-indulgence. ‘For what shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?’ (Mk. 8:36)”

The prayer above is the long form of one of the petitions member of the Angelic Warfare Community pray daily. As you may know, a group from Frassati enrolled in the Confraternity a few weeks ago, and it has been a powerful source of grace already. I can understand why Bl. Pier Giorgio was a member.

The prayer for our “power of estimation” has been a particularly important one for me. “Estimation” means your ability to size up a situation quickly–i.e., whether a particular situation may lead you in to sin or not and how prudent it is to remain in the situation. To sum it up in the words of a priest I know: “If all you can handle is a kiss on the cheek good night, then just stop there.”

But the power of estimation, I’ve come to realize, isn’t just about chastity but about all of God’s commands, positive or negative. Estimation is knowing when you’re about to make a nasty comment that will lead you and your friend into gossip. Estimation is about knowing that if you put your prayers off until “later,” later will never come. Estimation, in the end, is about knowing yourself in the light of the Holy Spirit’s wisdom, being able to be honest with yourself about your limitations, and saying to yourself, “It’s ok if I’m weak, because God’s strong. It’s ok to acknowledge that this is my limitation. I don’t have to be ashamed for leaving the party/stopping the conversation/putting down this drink because in the end, doing so is going to keep me closer to God.”

The thing is, knowing ourselves takes time, prayer, attentiveness, extended times of silence. It doesn’t come to us like magic, and, if you’re anything like me, it’s going to reveal as many wounds as it does insights. But it shouldn’t leave us discouraged, because God rewards even the smallest acts of faith. Sometimes we pray for God to help us see our faults half-heartedly and then boy do we suddenly see them! Instead of being frustrated or afraid, remember that God gave us time so that we could figure things out day by day and not all at once. Trust that the Lord is at work in you even when you don’t see it–especially then.

O come, o come, Emmanuel!
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, pray for us!