Green Thomism asserts that divine wisdom speaks through things. The coherence of living organisms as well as the community toward which they naturally tend are objectively given in reality and express “a design of love and truth” of the Creator Himself.
Month: September 2018
Just as the demons have many ways to attack us, we have a number of ways to defend ourselves. The most important of these ways is a proper understanding of the spiritual world, as this shapes intent and actions. People tend to have two basic approaches to the spiritual world: magical thinking and religious thinking. The essential difference is whether one’s focus is on oneself or God.
Saint Teresa of Avila described our interior life as a castle with many mansions that is multi-faceted and labyrinth-like. There is nothing simple about navigating the interior life. Saint John of the Cross was especially aware of how dark it can become and how blind we can feel as we try to make our way toward deeper union with God. God Himself acknowledged all this through the Prophet Jeremiah: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it? I the Lord search the mind and test the heart” (Jer 17:9-10a).
Various attempts to classify the stages of spiritual growth have been made over the centuries. The predominant classification, used by a number of the Doctors of the Church and many other writers as well, is the three-stage division of purgative, illuminative, and unitive. (Another major attempt at delineating the stages of growth is that of Saint Teresa of Avila, who divides the journey into seven “mansions” or stages.)
A principal work of the spiritual director is to help Christians grow in prayer. Fr. Bennet Kelley, CP, in a wonderful work entitled Spiritual Direction According to St. Paul of the Cross, states strongly, “Unless a person is willing to give him/herself to a life of prayer and daily seeking God, they are not yet ready for ongoing spiritual direction.” For this reason, it is necessary in every spiritual direction meeting to speak about prayer, and if the directee does not bring it up, the spiritual director should always ask, “How is your prayer?”
There are many personal journeys to God, but they all pass through Jesus. The Christian life starts with Baptism—being made into an adopted child of God—then develops over the course of a person’s life into the ministry appointed by God for that person. The gifts to perform that ministry are given at Baptism and further activated at Confirmation. The depth of a person’s spirituality and how close their relationship to God grows is dependent on God’s grace and that person’s cooperation with that grace.
The history of the ecological movement within the Catholic Church is yet to be written, but when it is, one will discover that many of the practices now espoused by the most progressive minds were, in fact, voiced in a prior era by those Catholics engaged in the issues of ecological stewardship. Buying locally sourced, sustainably raised foods from smaller scale family owned vendors was a consistent mantra of Catholic rural life for decades leading up to its now more popular expression in the broader culture. It is difficult to distinguish sometimes between the enthusiasms of the Catholic growers of the 1940s and the co-op movements present today.
Over the last few months, Fr. Boniface Hicks and I have had the opportunity to teach for several weeks from our book on spiritual direction, Spiritual Direction: A Guide For Sharing the Father’s Love. This has given me a chance to re-read and rethink in the process of teaching from the book and elaborating on issues surrounding spiritual direction.