Drawing upon the teaching of seven Spiritual Doctors of the Church, Ralph Martin presents an in-depth study of the journey to God. This book provides encouragement and direction fo... Read more
Through Darkness Into Light
Last time, we discussed how Confirmation both commits and prepares us to become witnesses to and channels of God's grace. This month, we'll talk about the effects of living a faithful, sacramental life.
As we've discussed, God intended us all to be adopted sons and daughters of God from the beginning. But original sin happened, and so God didn't dwell in our hearts any longer — until the coming of Jesus Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit.
Now, we who have been baptized are temples of the Holy Spirit. When we receive the Eucharist appropriately, the divine life within us is strengthened and renewed. We have been sealed by the Holy Spirit in Confirmation and given supernatural gifts to live the Christian life in the Spirit. (For more on all of this, see Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC's The
'One Thing' Is Three (Product Code: TH-ONE).)
Now we are transformed.
Oh, it's not quick for most of us. It takes a lifetime — sometimes longer, for those of us who will end up in purgatory. But the fires of God's love burn within our hearts and will transform us completely if we let them.
In fact, the easiest way to be made holy is to be generous with God, according to Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, the great Dominican theologian and teacher of St. John Paul II. If we open ourselves to His will and give Him everything swiftly and without complaint, we will very quickly reach the highest heights of holiness.
And the saints and doctors have laid out a road map for us to walk. Called the "three ages of the interior life," the Christian spiritual path can be described as follows:
• Initial conversion: belief in the Lordship of Jesus, recognizing and repenting of my sins, and belief in God's love for me.
• The purgative way: getting rid of mortal sin in my life; practicing my faith according to the teaching of the Church.
• The dark night of the senses: I must be generous with God because I choose to, rather than because it's easy or fun.
• The illuminative way: I am obedient to promptings of the Holy Spirit, and the Lord can work through me. I receive many graces and special blessings in prayer.
• The dark night of the soul: I am purified of pride.
• The unitive way: spiritual marriage, described by great saints such as St. Faustina, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. John of the Cross.
It's important to remember that we don't necessarily go through those stages in that order, or all at once, according to St. Teresa of Avila. Sometimes you go through them again and again, or even experience more than one of them at the same time.
But ever since I first saw that roadmap laid out, the lives of the saints made a lot more sense to me. Why? Because you can trace that path in the lives of the saints: conversion; getting rid of sin; deep trials; fruitful ministry; the dark night of the soul; and then there's that point past which they are Saint Thus-and-such, solidly holy to the end of their lives on earth.
That's the Christian spiritual path. Sound intimidating or impossible? According to Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, it's not just for great saints, but for you and me as well. For the quickest, easiest, and surest way to walk this path, check out Hearts Afire: Parish-based Programs (HAPP) at allheartsafire.org.
Next time, we'll discuss how this life in the Spirit is an imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To learn more about the Christian spiritual path, see Ralph Martin's The Fulfillment of All Desire: A Guide Book for the Journey to God Based on the Wisdom of the Saints (Product Code TH-FULA). To order, visit shopmercy.org or call 1-800-462-7426.
Spirituality of the Immaculate Heart
Mary Pondered in Her Heart
The Heart of The Matter
Temples of the Holy Spirit
From Sons to Slaves
Baptism Saves You
Confession Resurrects You
Eucharist Nourishes You
Confirmation Ignites You
Through Darkness Into Light
Mary, Mother of Christians
Salt. Light. Hope.