I know. People looking at this title might easily conclude that the topic concerns civil rights perhaps. But it doesn’t. It really concerns integrating what we know about Spirituality as taught by the Roman Catholic Church. I never tire of saying that the longest journey in the spiritual life is between head and heart. Although our knowledge of the spiritual life can easily be seen as varying in degrees from one person to the next, everyone has the exact same task of integrating it. In other words, our spiritual task is to understand what we already know to such an extent, that living it out becomes as easy as breathing. That’s a challenge to be sure, but it can be done.
Our ultimate role models for how it is done are, of course, the Saints. There are more Saints in heaven than the ones the Church proclaims to be Saints. We are given these more notable people because they act as role models for us, maps as it were. The teachings of the Church are maps; the Saints act as maps lived out, or what it looks like to integrate these teachings. Tony Robbins, the famous motivational speaker, once said that if one wants to achieve a certain goal, find someone who has mastered it and just do what he/she did. You will achieve the same result. I have always found that saying to be true. Now, how can we model the Saints?
The Saints reflected deeply on Scripture and Church teachings. They were passionate about God, and their lives reflected this single-mindedness. To be passionate about God typically translated to mean that they would not be passionate about worldly matters. But such an attitude did not stop them from loving the world, realizing through their reflection, once again, that the world and everything in it was a creation of God, and as Genesis tells us, it was good as a result. So all that they saw reflected God, much as a mirror, in turn inspiring them to praise God, and in that attitude of praise, to pray and to pray deeply. Why deeply? Mirrors, like everything else I suppose, get dirty, and whenever we see a dirty mirror we get inspired to clean it. Don’t we? We people are part of this world, and the Saints noticed that everyone including themselves needed healing. And until we all experience total healing by God, the mirror wont be as reflective as it could be.
So, the Saints, living out of their single-mindedness, accepted the Lord’s command to spread the Good News, and to heal everyone as a result. Nothing can heal us as well as the Good News. The Saints got that insight from both reading about their Master healing people throughout the gospels, and noticing by experience the results of their own actions in the world. People, listening to them and following their example, quite simply experienced even deeper healing. When you see good results from what you do, the experience of that reinforces what you do.
They were not afraid of their emotions. They noticed them, much like waves on the surface of the water. They noticed their potential to get angry. But they did not give in to it. That took practice and some time to be successful. But rather giving in to anger, they doubled their effort to concentrate on the Lord instead. You cannot do two things at the same time. Whenever they concentrated on the Lord, they felt peaceful – a much better feeling than anger. It was not a question of refusing to feel emotion. It was more like choosing which emotion you wanted to feel. Then that evolved to being willing to feel what God wants them, and all of us, to feel, and that of course is joy. When God gave them the gift of joy, they rejoiced! The Bible is filled with accounts of the Holy People rejoicing! And when they did not feel joy, they chose to be patient – and wait. While waiting, they used that time to continue to pray, and to continue to serve others in God’s Name, knowing that God would gift them with joy once again in God’s all good time. In this way, we see that their lives were rich in meaning and of course, very productive. After all, they served their brothers and sisters well by their very lives, and throughout, rested in God. Perfect.
Peace, Fr. Walter