WE need to be wary of our tendency to confine our spiritual life to the equivalent of the comfort zone. This happens when we equate our spiritual life with taking care simply of our personal affairs, concerns and problems.
In short, we think of God and go to him only when we have personal predicaments to sort out. We forget about what God really wants from us. We forget about what the others expect from us.
ItÂ´s notoriously one-way, highly localized instead of going global, self-centered instead of strengthening oneÂ´s relation with God and others that underlies it. It is shallow, narrow, vulnerable to all sorts of dangers like superstition, complacency, heresies, etc., and incapable of facing problems and fullfilling the other Christian duties.
This is a common phenomenon that we need to be more aware of, since it has become so ordinary like air that we hardly give any attention to it, much less, feel some concern over it. It doesnÂ´t give us even the slightest jolt.
Our Lord himself was faced with the same phenomenon even among those close to him, his apostles. Many times he had to correct them, expand their faith and understanding of things, and even scold them.
Remember the time when the apostles were arguing who among them was the greatest. Then the mother of James and John simply wanted to have her sons seated by the side of our Lord in heaven.
Philip also asked Christ to show them the Father, which provoked our Lord to tell Philip, Â¨After I have been with you all this time, you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.Â¨ (Jn 14,9)
Then Peter received a strong rebuke when he attempted to dissuade Jesus from going to Jerusalem to face his death. Â¨Get behind me, Satan, you are a scandal to me…â€ (Mt 16,23)
ThereÂ´s a strong tendency for people to simply go individualistic in their spiritual life. ItÂ´s true that the spiritual life is always personal, but it also has other dimensions. When people only talk about their problems and fail to enrich their spiritual life with the other elements that go into it, we have a problem.
People often fail to realize that many of their weaknesses and failings persist because they do not allow their spiritual life to take on the other fundamental elements. They may pray, but they donÂ´t deepen their faith. They like to develop virtues, but they donÂ´t like to exert effort, to offer sacrifices and to be tempted and tested.
They want to be holy, but they donÂ´t take care of their ongoing formation, nor submit to a plan of a life of piety. They want to be generous, but they donÂ´t want to be demanded upon or to be told or to be given problems and challenges. They want to be contemplatives, but they neglect their duty to be active in their secular responsibilities.
We need to demolish this kind of mentality that sadly seems to be mainstream nowadays. We wonÂ´t progress spiritually that way. On the contrary, we can go deeper into trouble and yet thinking that we are still ok.
This is the unkindest cut we can suffer when we have a spiritual life that is revolving around ourselves. LetÂ´s remember that pride, error and blindness can take on the appearance of holiness. If not corrected, that predicament can become invincibly unsolvable.
St. Paul always encouraged that we try to pursue Christian maturity, to the point that God becomes Â¨all in all,Â¨ and that we become Â¨a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fulness of Christ.Â¨ (Eph 4,13)
For this, we should know some fundamental and indispensable aspects of Christian life, like the truth that Christian life is a participation in the Trinitarian life of God who is one yet three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We need to develop a sense of our filiation to God the Father, the urge to follow and imitate Christ who is the perfection of our humanity, the skill to deal with the Holy Spirit who is our sanctifier, the divine gift that brings God to us here and now.
We need to develop the sense of the ecclesial and secular dimensions of the spiritual life, keenly aware of our duties in the Church and in the world, evolving a sense of the relationship between time and eternity, the material and the spiritual, the world and heaven.
Filling out and activating our spiritual life is an endless, exhilarating affair!Â (By Fr. Roy Cimagala)