- Our deepest inner longing is to be reunited with the One who created us and to be healed and become whole through the uniting of our fragile temporal human beings with His perfect eternal beautiful deity.
Christian Spirituality changes us from the inside out. When we open ourselves to receive Jesus we invite Him inside our sacred spaces. Gently and lovingly He uncovers our hurts and our fears, and the healing process begins. The world is corrupt and selfish filled with arrogance and pride and we must not deny that we have been affected, tainted by our exposure to the corruption, that has been eroding our Christian values tiny bit by tiny bit until we begin to question whether sin is really sin. We hesitate to correct our brothers/sisters who we know are actively sinning as we are all too aware of our own sinful natures.
The world tells us that we should not judge others, (which is of course biblical, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5) (NIV). We are aware above all things that we are flawed. We are creatures – created beings. We recite in liturgy, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive You but only say the word and I shall be healed.” Temporarily at least we are healed of our unworthiness until the next anticipated reception of the Eucharist. (It is good that we don’t receive lightly that we do contemplate the immensity of the sacrament.)
As we receive Jesus inside our beings we are transformed mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. When we contemplate scripture we meditate on the life of Christ. We also meditate upon the lives of the saints that followed Him. We desire to be made holy as Christ is holy – impossible for man – only possible with an outpouring of God’s grace. Jesus tells us that there is only One who is good that we have all fallen short of the glory of God. The only way for us to find redemption and to become good is through uniting ourselves to Christ who mediates with God for our salvation this is accomplished by the work of the Holy Spirit sanctifying us, teaching, and prompting us forward on our journeys towards salvation.
John 15:5 – “…He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” Jesus tells us that He is the Vinedresser and He has to cut away all that is in us that is dead, all our old mindsets, unhealthy behaviours and unproductive habits must be cut out of us so that new ideas, healthy habits and life producing conduct can take root and grow. Holding on to what is familiar blocks the work of renewal that Jesus needs to do to enable our growth. Suffering is the antecedent to growth. Growth comes through surrender to the plan of Christ for our lives. We die to self in order to live for Christ; this sacrifice enables our holiness, a task that is impossible when we are trying to stay in the familiar. No growth can be accomplished without pain. Our sanctification demands suffering. The cross must be endured. As Jesus was nailed onto the cross we must nail our narcissistic human desires onto the cross.
To truly embrace Christ as He embraced us we must embrace the sufferings of others. To open ourselves up to know, experience and carry the pain of others forces us from self-focus to focusing on God and others which is the beginning of the maturation process. As stated in Christian Spirituality, Themes from the Tradition, “Christian growth holds in balance the two great commandments of love of God and love of neighbor. To the degree that we can look outside of ourselves toward another we learn our connectedness to everyone else who is created, like us, in the image of God. By the continued acts of “forgetting the self” we recognize, in those very acts, others and the Other.” Christian Spirituality, Themes from the Tradition, p61, Lawrence S. Cunningham and Keith J. Egan, Paulist Press 1996.
The process of becoming can be described as an unfolding of our selves as we journey which causes us to meditate on our lives and experiences including our relationships with God, ourselves and others. At the end of the process we know more fully who we are and why we are here and most importantly we realize our dependence on the One who created us and cares for us. Being fully one with God brings us into our true purpose and as we grow in Him and He grows in us we reach and teach others lovingly, as Christ reaches and teaches and loves us completely.
Spiritual maturity is the fruit of dying to self and embracing the unknown future which God has envisioned for each of us. He has prepared the path. We must seek it and with all diligence persevere until we have the surety that this is indeed the path He has prepared for us and not the false one of our own vanities. Spiritual maturity comes through trial and error when we let go of the familiar and allow God to reach us in new and unexplored ways – when we decide to take the road less traveled. Personal integrity is when we choose to do that which we know is right for God, for others, ourselves and all of creation. When we take responsibility to do the right thing no matter if anyone else chooses the same path. Our Christian witness and loving example may one day be the light of Christ to those who are still walking in the darkness. To be more compassionate to others through deed and example is to follow in the footsteps of Christ. The more we imitate Christ and allow Him to use us the more others are drawn to the light in us that emanates from His Spirit indwelling our beings and permeating every aspect of our humanity and spirituality.
Marion Sinclair-Simpson (C)