When’s the last time you gave yourself a spiritual check-up? If you answered recently, then congratulations! However, it’s more likely that you answered not recently or never. According to several reputable research studies almost 750,000 people in Bexar County report having no association with a religious faith…the number is up 50-percent from the year 2000. Also, a recent Pew Research Study indicated that one-third of Americans do not believe in the God of the Bible. This is the world we live in.
We get regular check-ups for every other aspect of our life; there is the annual physical for the body, scheduled maintenance for the car, and the end of the year review of our finances. So why not, a regular spiritual check-up?
All of these check-ups, especially the latter, are necessary so that we can avoid problems, have peace of mind, and live a well-balanced successful life. As the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail.
My wake-up call came when I was 42 years-old, the year my mother died. Up until then – outside of going to Mass on Sundays – I really hadn’t put much effort into assessing or developing my spiritual life. And when it came to holiness, I thought that was only possible for priests, nuns, and extremely devout Catholics. After my mom died, I began formulating a spiritual plan to get to heaven, so that I could see mom again one day.
I have spent the last several years discovering the richness of the Catholic Church. Consequently, I have been able to appreciate the depth and beauty of the Church. Like the petals of a rose, the Church offers so much sweetness in the form of Scripture (try lectio divina – the meditative reading of sacred text), the sacraments, the lives of the saints, sacramentals (Rosary, holy medals, blessings, etc.), Church teaching, prayer, parish life, and evangelization ministries like Pilgrim Center of Hope (PCH).
On the Call to Holiness
After reading Guadate Et Exsultate, Pope Francis’ recent Apostolic Exhortation, I was reminded of the words of St. Josemaria Escriva: “This is God’s will for us, that we be saints.” St. Josemaria’s legacy is the belief that each of us can, by God’s grace, achieve holiness through the course of ordinary life and work.
Guadate Et Exsultate offers us a practical roadmap to holiness for our own time complete with the risks, challenges, and opportunities that we will face along the way.
Thanks to Pope Francis, I have charted a new route to holiness that includes the following signposts:
Perseverance, Patience, Meekness, Joy, Sense of Humor, Boldness, Passion, and Constant Prayer
By being docile to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, I have been led to Pilgrim Center of Hope. Part of what drives me are the words of Saint Paul: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16).
In the face of fear and doubt, I have been encouraged by the words of Pope St. John Paul II: “Do not be afraid…Put out into the deep and let down your nets.”
All of us should want to have a fervor – a parrhesia or boldness – to evangelize and to leave a mark in this world. As Pope Francis suggests: “Let us ask the Lord for this parrhesia – this apostolic fervor that impels us to move forward, as brothers, all of us forward.”
Daily Life, Balance, and Temperance
Our PCH theme for July is Daily Life, Balance, and Temperance, all key to a strong spiritual plan.
We are in the Second Period of Ordinary Time, a part of the liturgical year when Christ walks among us and transforms lives! If we want to grow in character and virtue, we must walk with Him in our daily life – through prayer, worship and devotion.
Balance involves enjoying life (in moderation), being full of gratitude, loving your neighbor, and serving others.
Having Temperance means not being a slave to one’s greatest pleasures; consumption of food & drink, and the union of the sexes outside of marriage. In a society that promotes instant gratification, we have to work especially hard at abstinence, and chastity. St. Matthew was right: “…the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (cf. Matthew 26:41).
To paraphrase a teaching from the Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis, true peace of heart is found in the person who is fervent and spiritual.
Robert V. Rodriguez is PR/Outreach Assistant for Pilgrim Center of Hope. This first appeared in Living Catholicism, our regular column in Today’s Catholic newspaper.