Initiatives in our spiritual life
We have to take initiatives in developing our spiritual life. We cannot be complacent and passive in this area. We have not been made like robots or automatons that just wait to be switched on before we move. We have to be fully responsible for our spiritual life.
While it's true that our sanctification is first of all a responsibility of God, our Creator and Father, who with the Son and the Holy Spirit, continues to undertake our redemption and sanctification, we as persons and children of God also have to take full responsibility of our duty to be holy.
We should not be remiss of this duty. God is treating us the way he treats himself, precisely because we are children of his, created in his image and likeness. What God is and does, that's what we should also try to be and to do, obviously with God's grace always.
This is not being presumptuous. It's just being consistent to what Christ himself said: “Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect.” (Mt 5,48) St. Peter in his first letter reiterates the same idea: “As he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct.” (1,15)
But we should not forget that while everything depends on God, everything also depends on us. It's a 100 percent-100 percent proposition, not 50-50, nor any other ratio. God's full responsibility over our sanctification does not detract any bit from our full responsibility over our own sanctification.
We need to take initiatives in developing our spiritual life. This has to be a personal affair, involving our most intimate human faculties, our intelligence and will, our mind and heart.
We have to be wary of this requirement because we are most vulnerable to go through our spiritual life by just coasting along, mainly dependent on some external support systems that can only give the semblance but not the very substance of holiness. Yes, it is easy to wear a mask of piety.
We can go through the motions of sanctification, making the appearances of prayer, sacrifices, virtues, etc., but still miss the true object—complete albeit dynamic identification with God that, in the end, is what sanctity is all about.
That's why we can see that in spite of our impressive regimen of spiritual exercises and practices of piety, we still can see gaps and inconsistencies, as we easily fall into rash judgments, shy away from sacrifices and occasions of self-denial, secretly splurge on self-indulgence and self-absorption, etc.
We may manage to be impressive in our external piety, in our theological thinking and reasoning, in assuming certain characteristics of a charismatic person, but we may still be far from true holiness. The scribes and Pharisees of old were also good in some forms of piety, but they were far off the mark insofar as holiness is concerned.
To be sure, sanctification is not simply a matter of collecting pious activities, the personal and the popular ones, but rather that through these activities we get to have an actual encounter with the person of Christ who is always intervening in our lives.
True sanctification entails getting involved in God's continuing work of human redemption. It's not just a status. It involves a till-death active cooperation in the saving providence of God for mankind and the whole world.
It would be a real pity if after going through so many pious acts, we still would miss the mark. It would be like what Shakespeare once said: “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
True sanctity involves all aspects of our being. It's not just a matter of good intentions and desires, and nice pious words. It involves our feelings and passions. It is readily shown in our behavior that does not shun from sacrifices and can well tackle heroic challenges and trials.
We have to take initiatives in developing our spiritual life. We can never say enough—that we are already ok. There will always be new challenges. Our weakened and erratic human condition will take care of that. God will always be asking for more even as he gives us more graces.
Everyday, we have to set some goals to reach, pursuing them with all our effort. It can be in the way we pray, develop virtues, concern ourselves in the lives of others. It's important that we concretize these goals and identify the appropriate means. The strategies we make should captivate us as fully as possible and trigger us into action.*
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