According to some mystics there are three ways to perfection…
1. Deny Yourself “The purgative way” is about self denial in that we hate sin and avoid it at all cost by fighting temptation.
For we are striving for holiness; we must be purified in many ways. The dictionary definition of deny is to refuse to let oneself have something that one desires. Each of us has things that we could do without -can we be honest with ourselves? How much can we deny ourselves? Can we start with little steps? Like anyone who wants to achieve anything in life – sacrifices have to be made. How much more do we desire to follow Jesus?
2.Take up your cross – The Illuminative Way – all we have to do is say yes, work hard and trust in God’s grace.
Our soul in this step can achieve a certain measure of self-control over the force of our passions, avoid any grave sins, and havecdeep convictions regarding the truths of our faith. The present task is to progress in good, strengthening ourselves especially in charity. We seek to adorn ourselves with Christ’s virtues and to make Christ the centre of our thoughts, affections and actions.
3.Follow me –The Unitive Way: Once we go through the purification of our own body and soul and are steeped in the practice of virtue, we are ready to be among the closest followers of Christ, the saints!
In this level we are detached from created things, and our primary focus is on the presence of the Creator who dwells in our hearts. Love of God becomes the driving force in our life.
Deep union with God in prayer, never resisting grace, and perfect mastery over ourselves bring us to see crosses and difficulties with great joy. We can unite our troubles with Christ as he suffered on the cross and with our brothers and sisters as they suffer today.
Lord by your grace help me to answer the call to deny myself, take up my cross – whatever it looks like and walk in your ways. AMEN
I was browsing through Spotify recently and rediscovered a band I had listened to a few Lents ago, with specific devotional material for the season. I was delighted to see, The Brilliance, had released a new album entitled, All Is Not Lost. One of the song’s titles jumped off the screen at me and this track was ‘Gravity of Love’. For me, this is exactly what Lent, and specifically the Triduum represents. Love is grave. In a hierarchy of virtues, love is at the top (1 Corinthians 13:13). You may read that thinking that it sounds a bit too serious, a bit too depressing. But that’s the thing. Yes, it may be serious, but, paradoxically, it’s actually the key to our happiness.
I was on a university chaplaincy retreat a few years ago and we were left to contemplate, what I would characterise as a typically Lenten psalm, Psalm 51…
View original post 861 more words
Last year we had the opportunity to visit the Holy Land. This photo was taken On the Mount of the Beatitudes and was a beautiful early morning in November just before all the other pilgrims arrived. I felt very happy and blessed to be there and to soak up the prayerful atmosphere.
These are the words of the Beatitudes placed on the walk way approaching the church of the Beatitudes as a reminder of the words that Jesus spoke.
God created us to be happy. But how do we pursue that real happiness? By reading one of the many self-help books? By accumulating wealth? By seeking pleasure? By yearning for power? By desiring honour? These are the worldly desires that we may replace God with, as St. Thomas Aquinas says, but Jesus reveals different be-attitudes. Jesus is the happiest man that ever lived. He gives us his eight paths to happiness, to dwell in his divine life. He reveals his character as the ideal for us to imitate as he leads us to the Father; the only sure way to everlasting happiness and Joy.
Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:
It’s not about wanting to be poor but about being detached from wealth, riches and material goods. Being poor in spirit is about my reliance on God. Knowing who I am in relation to God the Creator. That I need God and can nothing apart from him. If I rely on material goods then I’m less likely to rely on God. If I are materially poor then I certainly know how much I need to rely on God and his bounty. If I am wealthy I know that I have a duty to share what I have with the poor. My possessions are not who I really am-they are a false identity. I am unique and God loves me and wants me to love in return and other stuff just gets in the way.
This is not about easily lead, meak and mild. This is about being happy if I’m detached from power. I should seek God first and then I’ll know how to use power.
This is not about keeping me unhappy. If I am always seeking pleasure I won’t be happy because I am not seeking God. I need to be detached from pleasure so that I can be free to do what God asks of me even though it may not be pleasurable.
Am I satisfied with my life? What do I really crave? What is my ultimate desire? What do I hunger and thirst for? Do I listen to the media and advertising to tell me what I really need? I need to be focused on God’s will in my life then I will be satisfied.
God is all Mercy – He is Love. When I accept mercy and love in my life the more I can give. The more I give away the more I receive. I need to change my judgmental attitudes into loving merciful attitudes showing compassion to all I meet. For as God forgives me so must I forgive those who sin against me.
My heart is the centre of my being. Where is my heart focused? On passing things? How many things? I need to be focused on one thing- purely God and his merciful love. And passing things won’t affect my heart, my focus, my love because I am routed in the Creator of the universe-what have I to fear? ‘There is no fear in love’. 1 John 4:18
Happy the peacemakers:they shall be called sons of God.
Am I held back with my fears, my hurt feelings, my ego? Then I can’t radiate peace. My inner peace is disturbed and I radiate that in my actions. If I am centred on God, the fount of love and mercy, I will possess peace, it will flow like a river. What I receive I will give. I will be a peacemaker and I will be blessed.
Do I crave honour? Am I attatched to the approval of others? Do I like to be liked? Can I speak for those who have no voice and talk the truth lovingly and gently even though it may be uncomfortable? Can I make Christ’s values my own? Can I decide between getting along with the world and being persecuted for Christ?
Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.
I desire to be happy like you Jesus. Thank you for making me unique. You see beyond my possessions, the esteem I achieve, the fullness of my pride, the honours I receive. Thank you for teaching me through the example of your life. Give me the grace to make your Beatitudes my own standards for my life. May I experience blessedness here on earth and may it be completed in heaven.