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SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

Broken? Stanza IV – Part I

July 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Becky Ward, Broken

Give us strength to meet the challenge,
that the world does but provide.
Let us see the spiritual battle,
and from TRUTH, let us not hide.

It is a constant challenge to be in the world, but not of it (John 17). Time after time, I think I have a lesson learned, have allowed God to lift my mind and heart up toward Him…even just a little, them BAM! I let down my guard for a moment, my humanness asserts itself, and I am unceremoniously pulled back into ‘the world’.

St. John of the Cross tells us in his “Cautions” that the three enemies of the soul are the world, the self, and the devil:

The world is the enemy least difficult to conquer; the devil is the hardest to understand; the flesh is the most tenacious, and its attacks continue as long as the old man lasts.”

Once we get serious about making spiritual progress, the temptations of the evil one become more subtle.  (See The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Rules for the second week.)  He tempts us now with things that appear ‘good’. I mentioned in a previous post that I was ‘born & raised’ for service. It’s what I saw my mom doing, and I’ve spent most of my adult life serving wherever help was needed. This is a big area of temptation for me and I need to be watchful so I can discern those things that fit in with my Plan of Life – what God is calling me to do – and identify those that are not part of my calling. It’s not easy, especially for a people-pleaser like me! But I am learning. There are tried and true principles that apply to the spiritual life that are a great help. Jesus did not leave us orphans. As we leave the life of sin behind and seek to become holy, we have His Church and many, many, saints to learn from and follow.

I recently heard Fr. Zachary of the Mother of God, SOLT, on EWTN speaking of four stages of formation: deformed, reformed, conformed, and transformed. I really like this, and when I shared it with my spiritual director, he noticed that the last three stages reflect the three stages of the interior life: purgative, illuminative, and unitive. As I pondered this a bit, the Lord showed me more.

We are deformed through sin until
We allow God to reform us in His Truth,
Conform us to His Will, and
Transform us in His beauty and love.

I can’t remember ever hearing a priest or any of my CCD teachers talk about the Interior Life. So it came as quite a shock to me when I learned that the goose bumps and other consolations I was experiencing were from God! WOW! I didn’t think God really talked to His people any more – like He did in the Old Testament, except through the Bible, and maybe some especially holy people. What a beautiful moment it was to learn that this is not true. God does talk to us! Knowing this, we need to learn to recognize Him and how He communicates with each of us individually so that we can be re-formed.

This is not for the faint of heart.  It’s hard work. But the strength we need to persevere on the journey is given to us freely; it comes from frequenting the sacraments and spending as much time as possible in adoration. I may not feel any stronger for having attended Mass or gone to confession, and sometimes getting there can be grueling. But when I look back a few weeks, months, or years, I am amazed at what I have been through. I would have turned and run away if I had known about some of these things in advance!

We must be aware that ‘spiritual warfare’ is a reality, one we engage in every day whether we know it or not! Paragraph 409 of the Catechism tells us this:

This dramatic situation of “the whole world [which] is in the power of the evil one”302 makes man's life a battle:

The whole of man's history has been the story of dour combat with the powers of evil, stretching, so our Lord tells us, from the very dawn of history until the last day. Finding himself in the midst of the battlefield man has to struggle to do what is right, and it is at great cost to himself, and aided by God's grace, that he succeeds in achieving his own inner integrity.303

And Jesus Himself tells us:

 “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16

The devil never rests. Therefore we must be like the wise virgins, ready and watching for the bridegroom, stripping ourselves of all that weighs us down and prevents our souls from being lifted up to the Lord. We keep watch and do all we can to maintain our spiritual strength, lest we tire and become unable to resist the lure of the world, the self, and the devil, dragging us back into the muck.

To this end we can draw comfort, as Jesus intended, from John 16:33.

I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”

Love & Prayers,

Becky

This post is part of a series. The introduction and other articles from the series can be found here once they have been published.

 

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About Becky Ward

Becky is a wife, mother of four (One in heaven), grandmother of five, and a "re-formed Catholic" who, after receiving the gift of a deep conversion in 2006, and working through the Disciples of Jesus and Mary faith formation program, now considers herself to be "fully Catholic" What this means is that she now, at last, understands and appreciates the beauty of the Catholic faith in such a way that she wants to share it with everyone. "I've heard that the Blessed Mother told a visionary, 'If Catholics really lived their faith, the whole world would be Catholic.' I see the truth in this, and it is my deepest hope to be a living example that draws others to Jesus. Given the nickname Rebel-Becca by her mother, Becky strongly identifies with St. John the Baptist and his call to "make straight the path of the Lord", and with his role as "Friend of the Bridegroom". The poem, "Broken?" written through her hand, is a reflection of the journey of the soul, and Becky explains what the Holy Spirit is teaching her as she writes posts for each stanza.

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