Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The 7.5 Necessities for Perseverance in the Spiritual Life

The 7.5 Necessities for Perseverance in the Spiritual Life

Remember that simply beginning, putting one’s hand to the plow is nothing. Holy thoughts begin the plowing, and perseverance in virtue finishes it.” (St. Catherine of Siena)

1. Live in the Imago Dei and Direct Yourself to Your Ultimate End: We are created to be deified and perfected in the image of God. Man has an intellect, a will, and he can choose whom he loves. God is to be every man’s ultimate end to which he must dedicate his life. He is to be our first love. This needs to be a daily conscience choice. Everything we do whether it is of primary intention or virtual, must be oriented towards this end, no exceptions.  This presumes one is in a state of grace, that he uses his intellect to learn and deliberate, then to act according to his will, to love God.  “...the Word of God became man, that thou mayest learn from man how man may become God.” (Clement of Alexandria)

2. Participate in Your Deification: To be perfected or deified you must repent for your sins and exercise some form of ascetic penance. This means that you actively examine your life daily and confess your sins regularly. It requires that you do some form of penance in addition to that given by the priest. This is usually achieved by starting small and gradually working your way to more intense asceticism in loving God more. One then becomes gradually more holy. This means that you must move from servile fear, to loving God. There is no plateau in the spiritual life. “Come! Shovel out the filth from your soul and body!... No more filth! No more impurity! Run Back to your Creator. Open your soul’s eye and see how great is the fire of his charity, that he has put up with you and hasn’t commanded the earth to open and swallow you…” (St. Catherine of Siena)

3. Read Sacred Scripture: Scripture is the most important source for meditation. Every spiritual master in the Church attests to the importance of reading and meditating on Scripture daily. “Let sleep find you holding your Bible, and when your head nods let it be resting on the sacred page.” (St. Jerome)

4. Be Detached: You must detach yourself from worldly things. This goes back to The End of which you orient your life. Your life will be oriented to one of two things, God or something other than God. We fail to practice mastery over our attachments when we use them in excess of our needs; for purposes other than that for which they were intended; as ends rather than as means to a legitimate end. “The soul that is attached to anything however much good there may be in it, will not arrive at the liberty of divine union.” (St. John of the Cross)

5. Love Christ in The Eucharist: The Eucharist is the center of our faith and spiritual nourishment. There is no other source of grace greater on this side of heaven.  For this grace to be effective we must be well disposed to receive it. This means that if we do not have a daily prayer routine we will most likely not be disposed to receive Our Lord. We must be in a state of grace and disposed by daily prayer, otherwise going to Mass can lack love and be done out of mere obligation. “All who do not love God are strangers and antichrists. They might come to the churches, but they cannot be numbered among the children of God.” (St. Augustine)

6. Live in Grace and Virtue: We must work on exercising virtue and rooting out vice. We must be vigilant not only in fighting our predominant sin, but in practicing virtue while in a state of grace to choke out sin. We need to build spiritual habits. Virtue also leads evangelizing others. “Pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you.” (St. Ignatius of Loyola)

7. Act in Daily Prayer and Meditation: We must strive in prayer asking for all the gifts we need to grow in love of God. First vocal prayer, then meditative, and finally contemplative. Our Lady asks us to pray the Rosary every day, its not an option. We must have at least 15 or 20 minutes each day to spend with God in prayer not including the Rosary. Spiritual reading should include at least the Scriptures. One should also have a strong devotion to Our Lady and the Saints. “The door to the castle is prayer and reflection,” (St. Teresa of Avila)

Bonus 7.5 Don’t be a Pansy! To live without Faith, without a patrimony to defend, without a steady struggle for Truth, that is not living, but existing. (Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati)

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