Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Practical Way of God Speaking to You

Many assume that the life of Christ came to a close when he ascended into heaven. Catholics understand, on the other hand, that the Eucharist is the extension of Christ’s real presence on earth. In addition to his Eucharistic presence, however, his life continues in another form: through his Saints. Although God’s public revelation is contained within the canon of the Old and New Testament writings, his wisdom continues through the teachings of his Saints. The wealth of Christ's life, as with his knowledge, overflows through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in souls of his followers. And as for those who lived this life to the full and whose thoughts were wonderfully conformed to the mind of Christ, the Catholic Church has held them up as models to be imitated.

To better understand the Life we possess and to better to live it out, reading Scripture is essential. But a fine supplement to Scripture, indeed a essential supplement, is the writings of the Saints for our spiritual growth. It is in the writings and biographies of the Saints where general principles and virtues found in Scripture are translated into specific and practical ways to be holy. If there were any spiritual exercises the Saints recommended, it was spiritual reading (i.e. mediation on Scripture and writings of the Saints). Just as our way of speaking to God is through vocal prayer, his way of speaking to us is through spiritual reading. Don't do all the talking; listen to the voice of God. It is in this spiritual exercise where you will find concrete ways of living out the life of Christ. With this, deception and error are greatly minimized. Indeed, the Lord can better teach you how to see the world and day to day relationships as they really exist.

Take for example the subject of humility: Our Lord says in the Gospel, in so many words, that the first will be last and the leader of all should be the servant of all (he did this via the washing of the feet). With that said, Jesus left it up to the Saints to give practical lessons and examples of how this might be carried out. St. Francis of Assisi, for instance, does just that. He says that being silent amid criticism (i.e. biting your tongue)is worth more to God than ten days of fasting. Like St. Paul, St. Francis was known for blessing those who persecuted and maligned him.

This counsel not only leads to sanctity but it goes a long way in improving relationships; particularly marriages. Lost opportunities! There are many times a husband or wife could have abated an argument or prevented a display of anger in front of the kids by just peacefully accepting criticism. If, indeed, a correction needs to be issued to a spouse, then it is best to do so when the anger has subsided. In any case, to be a peace-maker in these situations, especially when the temptation to defend and justify yourself is strong, is a most pleasing spiritual sacrifice to the Lord; one that will be rewarded.

What is more, when married couples engage in spiritual reading and share what they have learned with one another, they better fulfill their vocation in getting their spouse to heaven. As such, both the husband and the wife can grow in virtue and in grace.

So, go out and by a book about a Saint or a book penned from a Saint. In learning their ways you will come to understand Christ himself in a deeper way. Moreover, without a doubt you will learn to think with him.