“I Wish that You Were Either Cold or Hot”

Lukewarmness is a very dangerous state to be in, because the soul in this state remains in delusion, like a sick person who pretends to be healthy and refuses to see his doctor.

Blessed Fr. Michał Sopoćko

“Iwish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16). This is how Jesus, through the words of St. John the Apostle, berates the lukewarm soul, indicating how they are odious to God. These kind of souls, despite many graces of God’s mercy, disregard this grace, by submitting to crippling laziness, which draws them away from fervor, and they completely abandon prayer with the slightest of pretexts. They supposedly participate in the sacraments but thoughtlessly, without appropriate preparation, which is why their practice bears no fruit and sometimes descends into sacrilege. They supposedly fulfill the obligations of their life’s vocation, but without the spirit of faith, looking rather for those things that bring them pleasure, whilst they are focused egotistically on looking for themselves in every place and in everything. The lukewarm soul is wickedly calculating: it avoids only that which is distinctly seriously sinful, while committing more commonplace sins with full awareness. It never considers devoting itself to taking into account God’s feelings as to what pleases or displeases Him, leading to the lack of self-renunciation, which causes pride, anger and impatience. It also brings about ill will towards other people, including disparaging others and gossiping about them. One is also easily distracted from prayer. And there is no attempt or willingness to correct this. The lukewarm soul can be recognized by the following attributes:

– The lack of, or a weak desire for, perfection and all that flows from it; the lack of remorse for faithlessness and negligence in serving God. Anyone who lacks the desire for goodness will never achieve it, because it can only be attained by great effort.

– Neglect of the inner struggle. Anyone who is afraid of the struggle will never triumph in it. And without struggle there can be neither triumph nor reward. The lukewarm do not struggle against their passions, but rather they struggle against God’s grace, which is calling them to correct themselves.

– Great inconsistency in resolution. A person who is constantly stagnating or withdrawing will never make any progress.

– Constantly seeking entertainment in games and play and showing off in meaningless small-talk, motivated by self-love and the lack of self-denial.

Focusing on past failures and not focusing on the ideal.

Lukewarmness is a very dangerous state to be in, since the soul in this state remains deluded, like a sick person who pretends to be healthy and refuses to see his doctor. This soul does not heed the admonitions of its conscience, or the Holy Spirit’s inspirations, or the warnings of friends, towards whom it may even become hostile. It considers innumerable lesser sins as something trivial, even as they become veritable addictions, often leading to much more serious sins, to which the soul also becomes accustomed. Lukewarmness is concerned only with practicing some virtues, whilst not avoiding certain bad habits, which ultimately put the soul in ominous danger. The servant in the Gospel did not transgress the rules of justice, continence, or purity. He was simply lazy – lukewarm. And for this he heard the verdict: “As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:30)

The foolish virgins also took care to maintain the treasure of their virginity, but were deprived of their reward not because of any serious sin, but because of their imprudence and failure to keep watch. (Matthew 25:12) Gilded virtues and an appearance of piety may be regarded positively among people, but God sees into the heart and utters a curse against the absence of fruit on the tree. (Matthew 20:19) “Accursed is the one who is slack in doing the work of the Lord…” (Jeremiah 48:10) and the Lord’s works are prayer, good deeds and fulfilling obligations.

The soul that is lukewarm does not really desire true life in Christ, but neither does it adhere completely to worldliness. It vacillates between good and evil, without submitting completely to either one. It lives abandoned and lonely, rejected by the world where people seek amusements, and rebuffed by the congregation of the saints where God pours out solace. One might say that it remains suspended somewhere between heaven and hell. The lukewarm person surmises that he will somehow manage to survive in this state of ambiguity. At the same time, neither God, nor Satan, nor his own nature will permit it. God’s call is: “Give me an accounting of your management.” (Luke 16:2)

Little by little, Satan overcomes the unsecured ground and leads the lukewarm to serious sin. Little by little, nature loses strength in the struggle before it is even started, and inevitably it fails.

Lukewarmness, however, is not an untreatable illness. Herewith is the effective weapon to combat lukewarmness: buy the love of God with the coin of prayer; it will be truly burdensome for the lukewarm soul but nonetheless it is essential. 

Source: Blessed Fr. Michał Sopoćko, A Holy Hour and Novena to Divine Mercy in the World, Warsaw 1949; www.faustyna.eu