Chapter 23: Sound Catholic Spirituality Based on the Truth of the Catholic Faith

Chapter 23: Sound Catholic Spirituality Based on the Truth of the Catholic Faith

Chapter 23: Sound Catholic Spirituality

Goal of spirituality: The goal of our spiritual life is to obtain a maximum union with God through the sacraments, prayers, and good actions. Such a union with God needs to be human, healthy, deep, sound, and according to God’s will and plan. Vatican II states that the more human we are the more divine we become. Many think we need to become less human to be more divine; that is false and misleading. It is very good to be human the way God intended us to be (Genesis, 1).

Spirituality Based on Divine Revelation

Spirituality based on the truth about God and the world: An over simplistic understanding of God is not acceptable. As Christ taught in John 17, ”This is eternal life: To know You, Father, and the One you have sent, Jesus Christ…” Seeking to know and understand the mystery of God is very important for our spirituality. Theological studies, readings, and using the capacities of our intellect to delve into God’s mystery are great spiritual instruments. God gave us a brain, we need to use it. As the Letter to the Hebrews invites us to imitate the spirituality of our leaders, it emphasizes the necessity to believe in the true faith: “Do not let yourself be led astray by all sorts of strange doctrines.” (Hebrews 13:9)

Spirituality based on the Incarnate Son who leads humanity to the Father by the Holy Spirit: As the center of divine revelation Jesus Christ fulfills the will of the Father and send the Holy Spirit to extend in human history the work of redemption. To accept and live the truth of divine revelation indicates obedience to God who reveals the unique and one truth himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Our spirituality is based on a relationship of communion with the Blessed trinity and is not an empty feeling or an unfulfilled desire tending toward the unknown: “In this sense, one can and must say that Jesus Christ has a significance and a value for the human race and its history, which are unique and singular, proper to him alone, exclusive, universal, and absolute.” (Benedict VI, Dominus Iesus, 15)

The Incarnation of Christ who became God visible, is at the center of our relationship with the Trinity. Without Christ humanity cannot relate to divinity because both natures are united in the one Person of Jesus Christ. The initial contact with the Incarnate God, Jesus, continues in the Church through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, our spirituality must adhere to the truth about God and is not just a ‘it is good to be good’ kind of approach. Saint Pope John Paul II, as he comments on following Christ, teaches: “This is not a matter only of disposing oneself to hear a teaching and obediently accepting a commandment. More radically, it involves holding fast to the very person of Jesus, partaking of his life and his destiny, sharing in his free and loving obedience to the will of the Father.” (Veritatis Splendor, 19)

There it is necessary to relate to God as Three Divine Persons. God is not a force roaming up the air controlling the affairs of the world. God is not an energy that created the world and left it on its own. God is not an infinite substance with no identity. God is personal by nature with name and identity. God establishes a real relationship with us and the world. God truly loves us to death and will never leave his creatures. Why? because Scripture reveals God a Personal Love. Those who have not discovered that yet, don’t know anything about God.

Spirituality Based on Bible, Tradition, Magisterium, and Communion of Saints

Biblical Spirituality: Our spirituality should be biblical. The Bible is called “the soul of theology” by Vatican II. It is the Word of God that is traveling with us through space and time, a constant teacher about God’s mystery. A biblical spirituality is based on the humble reading of the Word of God with respect to its interpretation by the Tradition and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Through his Word, God will talk to us, help us, address our needs, and reveal his will in our daily and concrete life.

When we sail on our spiritual journey, the Bible is our companion and our best friend. The Word of God will constantly give us the daily nourishment to grow in our spiritual life, and to have a more intimate union with God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Vatican II urges the Church to revive the reading of Scriptures:” The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s Word (LG, 51).”

The Word of God urges us to imitate the characters of the New Testament who played a major role in cooperating with Christ for the redemption of humanity. The Virgin Mary, the Apostles, the women of the New Testament are all spiritual examples to us. Imitating their presence in the mystery of Christ will urge us to carefully listen and read God’s Word to immerse our being in salvation history. 

Spirituality based on the Church’s Tradition: A sound spirituality should be based on the Tradition of the Catholic Church. We cannot ignore thousands of years of the history of saints who prayed the rosary, dedicated themselves to acts of charity, and became contemplative through their entire life. The Tradition of the saints is like a bouquet of flowers that offers many different approaches to God. St. Thérèse of the Little Flower, St. Anthony of the Desert, St. Anthony of Padua, St Rita of Cascia, St. Charbel Makhlouf, St. Francis of Assisi, and many myriads of saints have all lived their lives differently. Each in their own way, added a wonderful heritage to the Tradition of the Catholic Church. All of us can benefit from this heritage according to who we are and in the way God meant us to sanctify our life.

St. Paul writes to the Ephesians (4:11-12):”To some, his gift was that they should be apostles; to some, prophets; to some, evangelists; to some, pastors and teachers; so that the saints together make a unity in the work of service, building up the body of Christ.”

Spirituality based on the teachings of the Magisterium: A safe spirituality is based on the teachings of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. There was never a saint canonized who did not accept the full truth of the Catholic faith. Our obedience to the Holy Father and the bishops is a sign of deep union with God who established them as our shepherds. A person who does not have this kind of humility to obey the Church’s authority is in danger of losing sight of what God’s plan is for them. On many occasions in the history of the church, even though it did not make any sense, the saints always obeyed their superiors. God is more satisfied with obedience then with sacrifices.

Spirituality based on the communion of saintsEvery time we are in prayer, every time we improve our spiritual life, we improve the life of the universal Church. The reason is that the Church is a Communion of Saints. When we leave this earth we will see Abraham, Moses, the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and all the saints. It is a very exciting spirituality; it is a sound spirituality of a community, not just selfish and individualistic. A spirituality based on the communion of saints will spur us on to help the souls in purgatory. Once the souls are in purgatory, they will ‘eventually’ be in heaven. They just need the Church’s constant prayers to help them possess God forever.

We are individuals, but we are also a part of the communion of saints.  When we are with God, we will be one with God and the saints but our union with them will not cause our being to disappear in them. It is a union without a confusion. On the other hand, in heaven we will keep our individual identity as a being different than God and the saints. Yet, this difference is not a separation from them. Many are afraid that after being with God in heaven they might be separated from him for some reason. This is false, once we are united with God, it will be forever.

Spirituality Based on the Rosary

The Holy Rosary: The Rosary is a repetitive prayer. Some people question why do we recite so many our Fathers and Hail Marys. Remember that the levels of salvation and creation are always parallel. On the level of creation, do you eat over and over again? Yes. If you don’t eat you die. Our daily physical routines are similar to our spiritual routines. Repetitive spiritual prayers nourish us spiritually. A thought from Saint Pope John Paul II: “Mary, Mother of the Incarnate Word, is placed at the very center of that enmity, that struggle which accompanies the history of humanity on earth and the history of salvation itself. In this central place, she who belongs to the “weak and poor of the Lord” bears in herself, like no other member of the human race, that ‘glory of grace’ which the Father ‘has bestowed on us in his beloved Son,’ and this grace determines the extraordinary greatness and beauty of her whole being. Mary thus remains before God, and also before the whole of humanity, as the unchangeable and inviolable sign of God’s election, spoken of in Paul’s letter: ‘in Christ…he chose us…before the foundation of the world,…he destined us…to be his sons’ (Eph. 1:4, 5). This election is more powerful than any experience of evil and sin, than all that ‘enmity’ which marks the history of man. In this history Mary remains a sign of sure hope.” (Redemptoris Mater, 11) 

The Holy Rosary ~ insistencePraying the Rosary develops a sense of insistence in us.  Holy Scriptures confirms that God almost always answers the insisting person. It shows a sense of reverence to God’s supremacy and generosity. In a parable Jesus taught the importance of insisting when we pray. He gave us the image of someone knocking on your door asking for bread. If you ignore them because you are already in bed, Jesus confirmed that because of their insistence to be helped, you should get up and help them.

Another parable is the one about the widow who was insisting on being helped by the Judge. Jesus affirms that God will help those who cry to him day and night. It is a sign of relying on God: “where should we go Lord, you have the words of eternal life.” (John, 6) Also the Book of Revelation reports Jesus’ words: “I am standing at the door of your heart knocking, if you open I will go in and be with you.”

The Holy Rosary based on the BibleIn the Rosary we repeat the words of the Angel Gabriel and Elizabeth to Mary. The repeating of the Hail Mary developed in many saints’ life a habit that helped them to pray without even thinking. It became part of their breath and their subconscious prayer. Remember only our body sleeps; our soul does not need sleep. Therefore, if we develop a rhythm of repeating this prayer over and over again, when we go to bed our soul will keep saying “Hail Mary full of Grace the Lord is with you…pray for us at the time of our death.”  At the end of our life those prayers will help us when the Virgin Mary comes to welcome and lead us to the Blessed Trinity.

Spirituality Based on facing sin and using our will for a true conversion

The lure of sin: We all have temptations and we all somehow fell for them. So, here we are living our spiritual life focusing on the Blessed Trinity, the Blessed Mother, and the saints, yet we decide to sin. Our decision takes even though we are ‘aware’ of God’s presence watching us sinning. It is a tragedy because we know God is there looking at us and, despite our determination not to sin, we fall in sin many times. We call this human weakness fired up in us by a strong tendency toward evil, concupiscence. So what is the solution?

  1. Don’t tempt the Lord your God. God will never allow us to be tempted beyond our strength but it is important that we cooperate with God’s providence and plan. The most important decision we make to help ourselves not to sin is to avoid the occasion of sin. We have heard that sentence many times ever since we were children. It is nothing but the truth: Scriptures are clear in revealing that there are circumstances where we are much easier pushed to embrace the temptation of sin. For example, if we are greedy, it would be easier to steal if we are in a room full of cash (not our cash) then not. It is easier to stay faithful to our spouse when we are not in the presence of a person we feel we have sexual chemistry with.  In the very ethos of our creation (the logic behind our human functioning) revealed to us in Scriptures, we are invited to never put ourselves in situations where the tendency to sin becomes an act of sinning. If we put ourselves in this occasion, concupiscence becomes ‘pregnant’ and will most of the times deliver sin.
  2. If we fall, we should immediately go to confession because, in our weakness, we often think that ‘since I am going to confession anyway, I might as well enjoy bit more pleasurable sinful actions.’ Sin draws us into other sins, a warning that was given to us in Scriptures: “Do not be so sure of forgiveness  that you add sin to sin. And do not say, ‘His compassion is great, he will forgive me my many sins’; for with him are both mercy and wrath, and his rage bears heavy on sinners. Do not delay your return to the Lord,  do not put it off day after day…” (see Ecclesiasticus 5:1-10)
  3. The conversion of the human person involves all the components that make up the ‘heart’. The concept of ‘heart’ in Scriptures goes beyond the emotional organ that we commonly use when we express our love of someone or something. It is the entire interior dimension of the person: emotions, will, freedom, consciousness, mind, tendencies, etc…Conversion which is metonoia in Greek, indicate a radical orientation of all these interior dimensions to God the Father through Jesus Christ in the grace of the Holy Spirit. Be always aware that the Incarnation of Christ made all that possible. Therefore, at the center of our spirituality, the fact that God the assumed a human nature from the Virgin, is the only hope and instrument for our salvation. In his human nature Jesus destroyed sin, a fact that would have never been possible without the Incarnation. So rejoice, Jesus Christ did it for all of us. Accept it humbly and be thankful forever.
  4. Conversion becomes like an unstoppable train driving to eternity ignoring all the evil of the world, praying unceasingly, and acting with charity toward all human being. The train will enter eternity in the proper time. Stay focused because you don’t know when the end of the track will be.
  5. Be careful of what Saint Pope Paul VI mentioned: a negative consideration of the world. God hates sin but loves the sinners. As we focus with holy stubbornness on the plan of God and even though we need to always protect ourselves from evil, we should always be aware that it is God’ s will to save the entire human race.

A true converted heart loves its enemies: The focus of our spiritual life should be what is happening in our heart: heart in the biblical sense that includes every single interior dimension, that is our will, consciousness, freedom, intelligence, emotions, etc… The average spirituality tends to be distracted by what others do and judges them. When the grace of the Blessed Trinity reaches the deepest recesses of the heart and shows the infinite value of the human person; when the Father reveals his ultimate plan for everyone to be saved; when Jesus Christ proves that he is the only ‘stronger one’ who can defeats evil and proves that no one can take any human person out of the hand of the Father; when the Holy Spirit penetrates our inmost heart more then our own heart can and bestows a ray of the divine life in us; when the Blessed Virgin Mary wraps her sweet maternal care around our persona standing between us God’s deserved punishment for our sins; we we realize that there are saints who pray unceasingly for us since we are one family and one body of Christ; when we realize all that nothing can obscure the desire in us for all people to be saved. Nothing that others have done to hurt us can stop us from looking at the overall picture of God’s will for the entire human race to be saved.

It is so ironic that the Prophet Jeremiah not only forgives and loves his enemies, but also stands between God’s wrath and them to intercede on their behalf. It is not a fake spirituality because the Prophet is still complaining about their evil ways; yet because of God’s universal plan for all to be saved, Jeremiah goes against his natural tendencies and uses his will instead of his instinct. He said: “Listen to me, Lord; hear what my accusers are saying! Should good be repaid with evil? Yet they have dug a pit for me. Remember that I stood before you and spoke in their behalf to turn your wrath away from them.” (Jeremiah 18:19-20) How the others react to our radical commitment to execute God’s plan is not our problems. They have a free will and it is between them and God to accept or refuse our sincere cooperation in reflecting God’s ‘crazy’ love for the human person.

Loving and forgiving others is an act of the will not of emotions: So many people when they go through a true conversion, start feeling bad about their past and wish they can repair their relationship with people they don’t to anymore. We see that in families where people don’t talk to their in-laws anymore; we see it among brothers and sisters; we see it among friends. One must be very careful not to fall into spiritual pride when they experience a deep conversion. The result of this conversion is a feeling of love toward the entire humanity and a desire for all to experience what we are experiencing. However, remember that people still have their own free will and they can decide to reject our loving approach to reconcile with them. Even though we feel resentment towards them, this does not mean that we haven’t forgiven them. Forgiveness is an act of the will in which we pray for others’ well being and salvation regardless how we feel about them. Jesus did not enjoy being nailed on the cross confirming that “they don’t know what they doing”. yet, he still asked the Father to forgive them and no doubt their sins were forgiven.

Spirituality based on faith

Faith is living the Mystery of God: We often think “I wish God made things easier for us. isn’t he omnipotent?” Yes God is almighty and he could have made things different and easier may be. But it pertains to God’s infinite wisdom to place us in a world of uncertainty and invite us to have faith. The only way we can reach our goal in coping with the enigma of human existence is to live the faith; we have no other choice. Pope Benedict XVI beautifully describes this spirituality by saying: “This is the mystery of God and man, which we found so inscrutable. We live in this world where God is not so manifest as tangible things are, but can be sought and found only when the heart sets out on the ‘exodus’ from ‘Egypt’…The arrogance that would make God an object and impose our laboratory conditions upon him is incapable of finding him. For it already implies that we deny God as God by placing ourselves above him…by no longer acknowledging as real anything but what we can experimentally test and grasp.” (Jesus of Nazareth, 34 and 36)

Faith is not certainty of tangible experiences: Pope Francis analyzes the situation in our world today facing the enigma of faith in God’s mystery. He emphasizes that our technology gears every fiber of our brain to seek tangible experiences and to base our life and future on what our reason can understand and discover. Whereas God’s truth sheds the ultimate light on our existence, the obvious results of exalted autonomy is nothing but destruction and emptiness. The first sentence in the first class I heard from my professor at the Gregorian university was: credo ut intelligam. The safest approach to the mystery of God is to believe first and then try to understand, not to believe only when I understand first. Pope Francis says: “Slowly but surely, however, it would become evident that the light of autonomous reason is not enough to illumine the future; ultimately the future remains shadowy and fraught with fear of the unknown. As a result, humanity renounced the search for a great light, Truth itself, in order to be content with smaller lights which illumine the fleeting moment yet prove incapable of showing the way. Yet in the absence of light everything becomes confused; it is impossible to tell good from evil, or the road to our destination from other roads which take us in endless circles, going nowhere. There is an urgent need, then, to see once again that faith is a light, for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim. The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every  aspect of human existence” (Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei, 3-4)

Faith will be put to the test: It is impossible for our faith not to be put to the test. It happened to all our forefathers and it will happen to every human being until the end of time. That is the best way to get closer to God. Why? I don’t know because it is a part of his mysterious plan. It has been like this and will always be like that. take it or leave it: “Remember what he did with Abraham,, and how he tested Isaac, and what happened to Jacob…For he has not tried us with fire, as he did them, to search their hearts…but the Lord scourges those who draw near to him, in order to admonish them.” (Judith 8:26-27)

Dangerous and false approaches to spirituality 

Spiritual pride, the most dangerous of it all: One of the most sneaky dangerous tendencies in us, is spiritual pride. Spiritual pride happens when someone lives a very good life and becomes close to Christ. If they are not careful, they start judging others, thus establishing themselves as masters of what is good and bad in spiritual life. Most of the people who have spiritual pride don’t even realize it.

Pushing others out of our way to be closer to the Pope…Really? I had a person one time yelling at me publicly because I did not set up a private Audience for him to shake the hand of the Pope. Really? During that audience, some people were almost stepping on others to move closer to the Pope. The whole idea of being in the presence of the Holy Father is to benefit from his teaching and to improve our spiritual life, especially our humility and our service of others. Pushing others out of our way to be closer to the Pope defeats the purpose of attending the Audience. To increase our union with God through the teaching of the Pope when we attend an audience, we must practice humility by allowing others to be ahead of us.

Blind imitation of the saints without conserving our own identity: A dangerous tendency in our spiritual life is a blind imitation of the saints, without remaining faithful to our own identity. Every person is unique. God is awesome in that he is capable of creating persons who are so different in so many ways. If we want to imitate the saints, that is wonderful. We can imitate their actions, prayers, and their union with God, but we must always be faithful to our own identity and vocation. We should not change who we are just because we want to imitate the saints. God will sanctify us the way we are and according to our own vocation in life.

Accepting others the way they are: Another danger in spiritual life is not accepting others in the community of the church. We are all different and unique, but that should be a source of appreciation not of judgment. Gossip and tunnel vision in parish life are dangerous: they demonstrate that we consider ourselves as being spiritually higher than others. I believe that accepting others the way they are and not trying to change them is a sign of deep humility. We can always try to improve them by a holy example but we need to be very careful not to fall in the pride of ‘holier then Thou.’ I invite all of you today to increase the amount of prayer in your life. After all a spiritual life without a life of prayer is dead. The Rosary changed my life forever.

You can’t be spiritual without being religious: When talking to the Samaritan woman, Jesus revealed to her that “the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24). Such an emphasis on the truth by Jesus implies the intrinsic connection between our worship and the truth about God. We cannot worship the Father the way we like; we must worship him the way he wants us to: in truth. So what is this truth? It is the truth about God and the world; it is the truth of the Divine Revelation in which God revealed his identity and plan in and through Jesus Christ. But Jesus Christ established the Catholic Church where his redemption is celebrated every day. Therefore, it is impossible to relate to God without using what he himself established to worship him: The Church. Being spiritual is impossible without being religious. If ‘being spiritual’ means being close to God, one cannot being close to God except through the channels God himself established: the Catholic Church. ‘Being spiritual’ implies automatically ‘being religious.’ Otherwise, it would be a false spirituality.

In this regard, Pope Benedict VI makes a distinction between the ‘spirituality’ of other religions and the ‘theological faith’ of the Catholic Church. He criticizes those theologians and philosophers who reduce the Catholic faith to a mere random spirituality of other religions. the Pope states: “This distinction is not always borne in mind in current theological reflection. Thus, theological faith (the acceptance of the truth revealed by the One and Triune God) is often identified with belief in other religions, which is religious experience still in search of the absolute truth and still lacking assent to God who reveals himself. This is one of the reasons why the differences between Christianity and the other religions tend to be reduced at times to the point of disappearance.” (Dominus Iesus, 7)

 The sign ‘COEXIST’ is false and must EXIT our minds: The most common trend nowadays is to approach God from a pure subjective way. In other words, so many people are trying to be spiritual leaders without having a ‘content’ of their message. Add to that, they truly believe that God is giving them a direct message to do this or that ministry, when the message is often contradictory to God’s divine revelation. To them, the truth about God, creation, and the world is irrelevant as long as they subjectively are good people. As a result, they totally ignore the truth of God’s Word and focus exclusively on the relationship with ‘the divine’ or with some kind of a ‘higher spiritual being’.

This approach which is expressed in the sign ‘coexist’ is a disaster because it presents dangerous spiritual consequences. It denies the absolute character of the One truth about God; it contradicts the purpose of creation which is sharing in the communion of the Three Divine Persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

Claiming to be divinely inspired: It is becoming very common for people to claim that they are directly and divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit, Christ, the Virgin Mary, or the saints. It is beyond doubt that throughout the history of the Church God has often directly communicated with some saints. God can and will do it again. But this kind of approach to our relationship to God should not be the basis of our daily spiritual life. Reading the Word of God, receiving the sacraments, spiritual readings, acts of charity, praying the rosary, and ‘normal’ spiritual exercises are the pillars of our spiritual life. If God decides to communicate with us beyond these means, that would be his exclusive choice and for a divine purpose.

Secularism: Secularism eliminates the transcendental in general and God in particular. Even though it believes the is something higher ‘out there’, it fails to accept an encounter with a personal God. Secularism might believe that there is a ‘God’, but it implicitly denies his saving intervention in our lives. The existence of God becomes something everyone somehow believes without having an existential relevance in people’s lives. Secularism “allows for professing belief in God, and respects the public role of religion and the Churches, but at the same time it can subtly reduce religious belief to a lowest common denominator. Faith becomes a passive acceptance that certain things ‘out there’ are true but without practical relevance for everyday life…Each person believes he or she has a right to pick and choose, maintaining external social bonds but without an integral, interior conversion to the law of Christ. Consequently,…Christians are easily tempted to conform themselves to the spirit of this age (Romans 12:3). We have seen this emerge in an accurate way in the scandal given by Catholics who promote an alleged right to Abortion.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Meeting with U.S. Bishops, April 16, 2008)

Relativism: It is the tendency to think ‘I do whatever I want. You do whatever you want. I don’t bother you and you don’t bother me. Everyone is entitled to have their own opinion about anything and everyone must respect other’s opinion no matter what they are.’ This approach presents a false freedom and illusory independence because it detaches our spirituality from the truth. Pope Benedict XVI teaches: “What is needed, I am convinced, is a greater sense of the intrinsic relationship between the Gospel and the natural law…The Church needs to promote…an apologetic aimed at affirming the truth of Christian revelation, the harmony of faith and reason, and a sound understanding of freedom, seen in positive terms as a liberation both from the limitations of sin and for an authentic and fulfilling life. In a word, the Gospel has to be preached and taught as an integral way of life, offering an attractive and true answer, intellectually and practically, to real human problems.” (Meeting with U.S. Bishops, April 16, 2008)

Relativism denies the absolute character of the Gospel’s truth. While the Gospel clearly teaches that adultery is a mortal sin, relativism accepts that one is faithful to his spouse for never leaving them but, at the same time, it is acceptable for them to be with another person. That other person knows that the spouse will never leave the other spouse, but thinks it is totally ok to have those side relationships. The Gospel teaches that the Sacrament of Matrimony implies the relationship between one man and one woman, reflecting the faithfulness of Jesus Christ to his bride, the Church. Relativism accepts ‘swapping’ of spouses, a fact that is deplorable in our society. In this case spouses believe that ‘swapping’ keeps sex good and exciting besides the fact that both are doing the same thing.

Idealism: It is the philosophy to let ourselves live in the irresponsibility. The world is a disaster, someone will change it. So leave it alone. As an example, a girl lives with a guy and believes things will change. He beats her up, cheats on her, and does not work, but she stays with him believing things will be better without making any effort to make them better. He is not pursuing any education, but believes one day he will have great work and great life. It is the belief that something will happen and life will be magically great. Some people will let things happen to them; other will make it happen by making tough decisions.

St Augustine teaches that there are two horrible things in the world: A life without hope and a hope without foundations. Hope is the engine that moves our life forward. We hope to get education, good job, build a family, have a nice house and good friends, etc… Without hope there is no reason to wake up in the morning and we wouldn’t even leave our house. However, it is even more horrible to have hope without foundation. In other words, without an ultimate goal, hope becomes empty and meaningless. In whom do I hope determines the value and the content of my hope.

Materialism: All the elements of the world are a gift from God and are never bad in themselves. Money, power, goods are good in themselves. Pope saint Paul VI warns the Church from a ‘negative approach to the world’. It is the way the money is used the power exercised that will determine whether we fall into materialism or we are using the goods of the earth according to God’s plan. Make no mistake many rich people and powerful leaders were canonized saints by the Catholic Church.

Materialism is based on making things a goal in themselves. We fall into a dangerous materialism and our entire existence starts to be oriented to ‘have more’. We become almost hypnotized by possessions and things. And the worst of it all materialism is like a drunkenness; we keep asking for more and we become insatiable.

People lose their marriage and themselves because of materialism. They destroy their health to make more money but then they spend this very money to recuperate their health.

People in this case still believe in God, but God is marginalized as a backup blessing to our system of life. When Job lost everything, he said: “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21) God’s blessing in the correct sense is an overall integration of our life in the values of the Gospel: It does not really matter if material goods are there or not.

another form of Materialism is more dangerous because it eliminates the existence of God from the life of the society. So many European deny that the roots of Europe are based on Christianity which is historically not true. Europe is based on Christianity whether we liked it or not. If God doesn’t exist everything would be allowed, a fact that destroys entire societies. World War I and World War II are a prime examples. Murder, theft, adultery, lying, human trafficking, abuses of all kinds, and all viced become the norm without the values of the Gospel.

Hedonism: Hedonism is a common tendency nowadays that seeks pleasure and avoids suffering at any cost. It argues the well being of the human person exclusively in maximizing the pleasures of life. Hedonism destroys the importance of our duties in life, the value of work, the daily effort to live a moral life according to the Gospel, and the battle to improve the world everyday through our actions. Hedonism praises drugs, waking up when we want, hand out for no reason, spend what our parents earned for the sake of our pleasure.

Seeking happiness and pleasure is embedded in our nature: we have the innate desire for the ultimate happiness in heaven. But seeking pleasure in the right way happens only when we are committed to the values of life: the pleasure of having God and the gift of life. Pleasure needs to be purified to be according to God’s plan not to our capricious desires.

Capítulo 23: Espiritualidad Católica Sólida

Las enseñanzas en este capítulo se basan en las Escrituras Sagradas, la Tradiciones de la Iglesia Católica (especialmente el Catecismo de la Iglesia Católica (CCC)), los Padres de la Iglesia (especialmente San Thomas Aquinas y San Agustín) él Magisterio de la Iglesia Católica (especialmente San Papa Pablo VI, San Papa John Paul II y Papa Benedicto XVI). 

Objetivo de la Espiritualidad: El objetivo de nuestra vida espiritual es obtener una unión máxima con Dios a través de oraciones y buenas acciones. Esa unión con Dios necesita ser humana, saludable, profunda, sólida y ser de la manera que Dios quiere que sea. 

Comprendiendo la Revelación Divina: Una comprensión demasiado simplista de Dios no es aceptable. Como Cristo enseñó sobre Juan, 17: “esta es la vida eterna para conocerte Padre y a quien enviaste a Jesucristo…”. Tratar de conocer y comprender el misterio de Dios es muy importante para que nuestra espiritualidad sea saludable. Los estudios teológicos, las lecturas, el uso de las capacidades de nuestro intelecto para profundizar en el misterio de Dios son grandes instrumentos espirituales. 

Espiritualidad Bíblica: Nuestra espiritualidad debe ser Bíblica. La Biblia es llamada por “el alma de la teología” por el Vaticano II. Es la Palabra de Dios que viaja con nosotros a través del espacio y el tiempo, un maestro constante sobre el misterio de Dios. Una Espiritualidad Bíblica se basa en la lectura humilde de la Palabra de Dios con respecto a su interpretación por la Tradición y el Magisterio de la Iglesia Católica. Dios nos hablará y nos ayudará a través de su Palabra. Dios se dirigirá a nosotros y revelará su voluntad en nuestras vidas. Cuando navegamos en el camino de la vida, la Biblia es nuestra compañera y nuestra mejor amiga. La palabra de Dios constantemente nos dará el alimento para crecer en nuestra vida espiritual y para tener una unión más íntima con Dios, el Padre, el Hijo y el Espíritu Santo. 

Espiritualidad basada en la Tradición: Una espiritualidad sólida debe basarse en la Tradición de la Iglesia Católica. No podemos ignorar 2000 años de Padres y Santos espirituales que rezaron el rosario, se dedicaron a actos de caridad, se hicieron contemplativos a través de su vida entera…  La tradición de los santos es como un ramo de flores que ofrece muchos acercamientos diferentes a Dios. Santa Teresita de la florecilla, San Antonio del desierto, San Antonio de Padua, Santa Rita de Casia, San Charbel Maklouf, San Francisco de Asís, todos vivieron sus vidas de manera diferente, pero agregaron a la tradición de la Iglesia Católicos un maravilloso patrimonio. Todos nosotros podemos beneficiarnos de este patrimonio de una manera diferente.  

Espiritualidad Magisterial: Una espiritualidad segura se basa en las enseñanzas del magisterio de la Iglesia Católica. Nuestra obediencia al Santo Padre y a los Obispos es una señal de una profunda unión con Dios quien los estableció como nuestros pastores. Una persona que no tiene este tipo de humildad para obedecer la autoridad de la Iglesia está en peligro de perder de vista el plan de Dios para ellos. En ocasiones de la historia de la iglesia, aunque no tenía ningún sentido, los santos siempre obedecían a sus superiores. Dios está más satisfecho con la obediencia que con los sacrificios. 

El Santo Rosario: El Rosario es oración repetitiva. Algunos critican por qué tantos Padres nuestros y Ave María? Recuerda que los niveles de salvación y creación son siempre paralelos. En el nivel de la creación, ¿comes una y otra vez? Sí. Si no comes, te mueres. Las oraciones espirituales una y otra vez nos nutren espiritualmente. Nuestra rutina diaria de vida es similar a nuestras rutinas espirituales. 

Rezar el Rosario desarrolla un sentido de insistencia en nosotros. Las Sagradas Escrituras han confirmado que Dios siempre respondió a la persona insistente. Muestra un sentido de reverencia a la Palabra de Dios: Repetimos las palabras del Ángel Gabriel y Elizabeth a María. La repetición del Ave María desarrolló en muchos santos una costumbre que los ayudó a orar sin pensar. Se convirtió en parte de su aliento y su subconsciencia. Recuerde solo nuestro cuerpo duerme; nuestra alma no necesita dormir. Por lo tanto, si desarrollas el ritmo de repetir esta oración una y otra vez, cuando te acuestes, tu alma seguirá diciendo: “Dios te salve, María, llena de Gracia, el Señor está contigo … ruega por nosotros en el momento de nuestra muerte”. Al final de su vida, esas oraciones te ayudarán cuando la Virgen María venga a darte la bienvenida para llevarte a la Trinidad. 

Espiritualidad Basada en la Comunión de los Santos: Cada vez que estás en oración, cada vez que mejoras tu vida espiritual, mejoras la vida de la Iglesia. La razón es porque la Iglesia es una comunión de Santos. Cuando salgas de esta tierra, verás a Abraham, Moisés, la Virgen María, San José, etc. Es una espiritualidad muy emocionante; es una espiritualidad sólida no solo egoísta e individualista. Una espiritualidad basada en la comunión de los Santos nos estimulará a ayudar a las almas en el purgatorio. Una vez que las almas estén en el purgatorio, eventualmente estarán en el cielo. Solo necesitan las oraciones de la Iglesia para ayudarles a poseer a Dios para siempre.

Usted es un individuo, pero también es parte de la comunión de los Santos. Cuando estés con Dios, serás uno con Dios y los santos, pero tu unión con ellos no hará que tu ser desaparezca en ellos. Es una unión sin confusión. Por otro lado, en el cielo mantendrás tu identidad individual como un ser diferente a Dios y a los santos. Sin embargo, esta diferencia no es una separación de ellos. Muchos tienen miedo después de estar con Dios en el cielo para que puedan separarse de él por una cierta razón. Esto es falso, una vez que estemos unidos con Dios, seremos para siempre.  

Aproches Peligrosos en la Espiritualidad: Uno de los peligros furtivos es el orgullo espiritual. El orgullo espiritual ocurre cuando alguien vive una vida muy buena y se acerca a Cristo. Si no son cuidadosos, comienzan a juzgar a otros estableciéndose como maestros de lo que es bueno y malo en la vida espiritual. La mayoría de las personas que tienen orgullo espiritual ni siquiera se dan cuenta. Una vez tuve a una persona que me gritó porque no lo ayudé a estrechar la mano del Papa. Durante esa audiencia, algunas personas pisoteaban a los demás para estar más cerca del Papa. La idea de estar en la presencia del Santo Padre es beneficiarnos de su enseñanza y mejorar en nuestra vida espiritual, especialmente nuestra humildad y nuestro servicio a los demás. Para aumentar nuestra unión con Dios a través de las enseñanzas del Papa cuando asistimos a la audiencia, la humildad implica que dejemos que otros estén en el frente delante de nosotros.  

Imitación Ciega de los Santos sin Conservar Nuestra Identidad: La tendencia peligrosa en nuestra vida espiritual es imitar a los santos sin ser fieles a nuestra propia identidad. Es muy importante saber que cada persona es única. Dios es asombroso al ser capaz de crear personas que son tan diferentes en muchas maneras. Si quieres imitar a los santos, eso es maravilloso. Puedes imitar sus acciones, oraciones, su unión con Dios, pero siempre sé fiel a tu propia identidad. No cambies quién eres solo porque quieres imitar a los santos. Dios te santificará tal como eres. 

No Aceptando a los Demás Como Son: El otro peligro en la vida espiritual es no aceptar a otros en la comunidad de la iglesia. Todos somos diferentes y únicos, pero eso debería ser una fuente de apreciación, no de juicio. La visión de túnel es peligrosa cuando nos enfocamos en nosotros mismos como espiritualmente más elevados que los demás. Creo que aceptar a los demás como son y no tratar de cambiarlos es un signo de profunda humildad.

Los invito hoy a todos a aumentar la cantidad de oraciones en su vida. Después de todo, una vida espiritual sin una vida de oración está muerta.