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spirituallife

There is something in each of us that calls us to God. Mankind, throughout history has been drawn to a higher purpose, and through this sense of adventure has searched for God. We are fascinated by the idea of God, attracted to it. If you have heard the Gospel on our Rosary Album, or read it online, this talk is meant to inspire you to continue your search for adventure, fulfillment, and ultimately, peace.

Mankind has been aware of a Higher Power, arguably, from the beginning of recorded history.  All cultures give credence to some God or Being who is not physical but spiritual and who has control over events in the world that goes well beyond man’s own power.  What arises in man when he “senses” this Being is fear or awe. The Greeks tried to explain it through story (mythology), the Pagan religions sprang up as attempts to worship it.  Either way it is evident that this is a universal experience for all mankind.  It remained a mystery until this Being began to communicate with mankind and tell them about Himself.  And one of the things he communicated was His name and that is incredibly significant.  It tells man that this Being is personal and that He wants to be known by man, He wants a relationship with man.  God revealed that He has a plan for all of mankind and that it is to lead man to experience happiness and love to the full.  This experience can begin now on earth.

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Mankind has been aware of a Higher Power, arguably, from the beginning of recorded history.  All cultures give credence to some God or Being who is not physical but spiritual and who has control over events in the world that goes well beyond man’s own power.  What arises in man when he “senses” this Being is fear or awe. The Greeks tried to explain it through story (mythology), the Pagan religions sprang up as attempts to worship it.  Either way it is evident that this is a universal experience for all mankind.  It remained a mystery until this Being began to communicate with mankind and tell them about Himself.  And one of the things he communicated was His name and that is incredibly significant.  It tells man that this Being is personal and that He wants to be known by man, He wants a relationship with man.  God revealed that He has a plan for all of mankind and that it is to lead man to experience happiness and love to the full.  This experience can begin now on earth.

The first aspect of this path to happiness is to grasp that God has made man with both body and spirit.  This means that man is part of both the physical world and the spiritual world.  The fact that man is part of the spiritual world explains why he is aware of God’s presence to begin with.  God has given to man a share in this spiritual reality, which makes man like God.  This reality has great ramifications. It means that what man does in the physical world includes some interaction with the spiritual world. Man is created for God, for goodness, for truth, for beauty, for community, for love and so these things beckon him closer.  When man comes into contact with these things he is moved by them and they resonate in his soul for man’s heart is home to these things.  So God created ways for man to nurture his spirit, for getting closer to God Himself.   

Another thing that God revealed to man was an explanation of something with which man was already familiar.  This was the sense of right and wrong, a moral code or law which, when ignored, leaves man feeling guilty.  This is a spiritual reality which expresses itself in the physical world.  Man is drawn to good behavior because he is spiritual in nature. Yet he finds himself wrestling with the law because he is not able to follow it perfectly.  Why can’t he follow it?  Why can’t he do what is right even when he knows it to be so?  Why does it even matter? Man’s actions do matter because he is a spiritual creature.  His actions have great effect on others and himself both in the physical and spiritual world.  But God has not left man alone. He has placed within man the desire to be good and given him the power to do so.  It will be a battle played out in man’s daily life. 

So the spiritual life consists in the choices he makes.  Thus, how he prepares for these choices and how he deals with them afterward is also of great importance.  This is the practice of virtue, developing habits that move man closer to God.   These habits need to be formed in man so to govern the choices of man.  Some examples of virtue are prudence, temperance, fortitude, justice, patience, charity, humility, honesty among are hundreds of others.  And man needs to cultivate these virtues because evil is present pulling at man trying to distort his soul and keep him away from God. 

There are two things which will fuel man’s attempt at the cultivation of virtue: prayer and the sacraments.  Prayer is communication with God.  It is one part talking with God, two parts listening to God.  Jesus said, “the sheep know the voice of the shepherd.”  God will guide man if he listens. The practice of prayer consists of several things.  First it should include an invitation to God to enter into the person’s soul, into the battle he wages against evil.  Second, it should include personal reflection upon the activities of the soul and places where improvement and strengthening is needed.  Third, it should include meditation on the person of Jesus Christ and the truths portrayed in the Scriptures, particularly the New Testament.  There is something powerful and spirit-building about meditating on the truth; it will mature your soul.  Fourth, littered throughout these activities in prayer should be moments of listening for God’s voice.  What direction is He giving you?  Has He answered your questions? Is He pulling your attention to something in particular?  This communion with God is indispensable.  It keeps you in contact with Him and prepares you for the greatest form of prayer possible: participation in the sacramental life, especially the Mass.

The Sacraments are the place where the spiritual world and the physical worlds meet.  God has instituted them specifically for the purpose of coming into the physical world for man’s sake.  It is through the sacraments that He gets inside of men and women.  He puts Himself into their soul so that they can progress in the spiritual life, be able to increase in the practice of virtue and receive peace, joy and happiness.  The practice of personal prayer prepares man for this experience.  God has made it so that man’s cooperation is required in this great adventure.  God cannot do it for him.  God will provide the power but man must utilize that power and cooperate with God to win the battle.  When man cooperates, man becomes holy.  It is done by degrees and won’t be complete here on earth but God has promised to complete it. 

The battle won’t be over until men make it to Heaven where God the Father awaits them.  The Father, who sent His Son to build a bridge to cross the gap between man and Himself and who has sent His Spirit to be His presence on earth, waits for man to come to Him.  Man’s final destiny is to have intimate union with God, the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  This union will not be complete until man makes it to heaven.  God paves the pathway there but man must choose to walk it.  What will you do?

by Timothy Carpenter, MA | Director of Faith Formation, St. John the Baptist, Hartland, MI

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