Consult not your fears, but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do. – Pope John XXIII
Spiritually-speaking, this is the mindset we all should have as we march into 2019.
As a way to encourage you to start or add to your faith life, consider this multi-faceted “Spiritual Six-Pack” of suggestions on how to build up your relationship with Jesus Christ.
Every year, I personally use this as a checklist to take inventory of my spiritual development. First, I ask myself if I’ve been living this “spiritual six-pack,” and then I make a list of how I am going to improve in these areas in the year ahead.
RECOGNIZE YOUR VALUE IN GOD’S SIGHT
To illustrate this point, St. John of the Cross wrote an allegory that describes how God gave creation as a bride to His Son and how Christ as the Bridegroom of our Souls, paid the ultimate price in order to save us all from slavery.
I will go and find my bride; I will take upon my shoulders her sufferings and weariness; I will die, so that she may live, and so I will lead her back to my Father. – St. John of the Cross
SEEK UNION WITH EACH PERSON OF THE BLESSED TRINITY
By the grace of God, our soul becomes, first, the child of the eternal Father; second, the spouse of Jesus Christ; third, the temple of the Holy Spirit. – St. Bonaventure
LET CHRIST DWELL WITHIN YOU
St. Ignatius of Loyola once said, “Christ is the life of all those who truly live.” The more we become one with Christ, the more Christ will shine through us.
Not to live in Christ is to gradually lose the spirit of prayer, the love of virtue, the taste of devotion, and the zeal for salvation. Like a branch separated from a vine, we wither and die.
FIND UNION WITH JESUS IN YOUR WORK
The sanctification of ordinary work is a living seed, able to yield fruits of holiness in an immense number of souls. Sanctity, for the vast majority of people, implies sanctifying their work, sanctifying themselves in it, and sanctifying others through it. – St. Josemaria Escriva
SEE JESUS IN YOUR NEIGHBOR
If Mark 12:31 isn’t clear enough, how about these words from St. John the Apostle:
In this the children of God are manifest and the children of the Devil: whosoever is not just is not of God, nor he that loveth not his brother (1 John 3:10).
Let us see in every one of our neighbors, whatever his state may be, an image of Jesus Christ, and serve each one in our Lord, and our Lord in each one. – St. Vincent de Paul
GIVE THANKS TO GOD
When we are grateful, we love. – St. Augustine
St. John Chrysostom says, because man so often fails in this obligation of gratitude, the Son of God puts Himself in our place and takes from His own treasures all that is necessary to do for us what we can never do ourselves.
It almost goes without saying, that daily prayer, receiving Communion frequently, going to Confession at least once a month, and keeping God’s commandments should form the foundation of our lives as Catholics.
By regularly meditating on the six aspects of your life listed above, don’t be surprised if you experience the following benefits:
- Interior Peace
- Spiritual Joy
If you are feeling compelled to regularly reflect on the “spiritual six-pack,” I want to make one final suggestion, and that is to call upon the Virgin Mary as your guide, intercessor, and protector.
…under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach your goal. – St. Bernard of Clairvaux
As a gift to you, here is the Totus Tuus prayer written by St. Pope John Paul II. This prayer is at the heart of my devotion to Our Blessed Mother:
Immaculate Conception, Mary my Mother;
Live in me, Act in me, Speak in me and through me,
Think your thoughts in my mind, Love through my heart,
Give me your dispositions and feelings, Teach, lead me and guide me to Jesus,
Correct, enlighten and expand my thoughts and behavior;
Possess my soul, Take-over my entire personality and life, replace it with Yourself,
Incline me to constant adoration, Pray in me and through me,
Let me live in you and keep me in this union always, Amen.
Robert V. Rodriguez is the Public Relations and Outreach Assistant at Pilgrim Center of Hope. Living Catholicism is a regular column of Pilgrim Center of Hope appearing in Today’s Catholic newspaper.