The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus’ proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” [Matthew 4:17] Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. “Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.” [Council of Trent (1547)] (CCC 1989; bold font mine)We probably agree theoretically to this theology of the spiritual life but most of us have to hit bottom and become desperate before we admit we need help, even from God. Suffering finally forced me to ask for divine help because I was desperate. For years, even though my adult mind desired freedom, deeper levels in my subconscious were afraid to let go of the familiar, let go of control. What really held me back from surrendering to God was self-love and God demands that He be our first love. Grace will overcome any obstacle if we are willing to let go and say “yes” to change. I need help from a director to identify self-imposed barriers to receiving the love of God. God is weaning all of us from our egocentricity with these touches of joy and His love. It is a wonderful journey into the heart of God. For me, anything less than the real deal would be so disappointing. The worst possible conclusion to my life would be to die and discover I had been simply playing games for my entire time on earth.
The Goal of the Spiritual LifeThe grace of self-knowledge opens the door to true humility, which is simply knowing the truth about ourselves in relation to God. This is the goal of the spiritual life: To thoroughly prepare ourselves by cooperating with Grace, to be united with our Beloved. This goal—union with God—is not a fairy tale, not only for the saints of old. As Pope Francis has said, holiness is for all, for all states of life.
Letting God Save MeYet once I humbly accepted Christ to save me from myself, I experienced an expansive sense of opening my core self to joy, to blinding light. I am finally at peace with this process of God controlled sanctification. There is no need to strive because the Lord acts first. Often I am called to simply wait patiently till He whispers, and then obey the Word I realise my willingness to wait patiently for God to act first, with inner stillness and peacefulness, is essential. No anxiety or forced activity in prayer. He asks that we just stand in silence, unmoved, in loving adoration. We gaze at Him as His Loving gaze penetrates and touches us at the very ground of our being. This is process is what we call dying to self.
Copyright 2019 Melanie Jean Juneau