A Journey Through the Spiritual Life (#1)
God the Father loves you personally
Each spiritual journey is unique. Some are blessed with the gift of faith from childhood. Others have a conversion later in life. Some fall away and return. Just as every person is a unique creation and child of God, with unique fingerprints, so too is their spiritual life and journey unique.
Over 2,000 years of Christianity, however, we have come to recognize the contours of the path to holiness. The details may be unique, but the path remains the same.
We are going to undertake a journey through the spiritual life together. This journey will be an 8-part series of articles about the different stages of the spiritual life. Although volumes have been written about the different stages of the spiritual life, we will only be scratching the surface. Hopefully the overview, however, will give you perspective and topics for further reading, prayer and reflection. I pray for the Holy Spirit to accompany us on this journey, enlighten our minds and spirits, lead us into all truth, and open our hearts to receive the love of God, in the Name of Jesus. Amen.
My spiritual journey began at my baptism as an infant. Practically speaking, however, my spiritual life began anew after my miraculous reversion to the faith and “first conversion” to Jesus in approximately 1995.1
By way of background, I was baptized and raised Catholic. I attended Mass every Sunday with my family. But no one taught me how to pray. When I went off to college, I stopped attending Mass and ramped up my life of sin. After college and law school, I got married in the Catholic Church to my Southern Baptist bride—why did I insist on getting married in the Church when I was not practicing my faith? Another mystery of grace!
After being married for about 3 years, I continued my life of sin and neglect of God. I was working for a large law firm, and I worked ALL THE TIME. Sometimes 7 days a week. Late into the night. I was chasing the dream of becoming a partner at a big law firm with hundreds of lawyers. It was exciting. Travel. Courtrooms. But I was empty inside.
My wife was working at the time with a devout Catholic friend on a television show called “Mystery Magic and Miracles.” They were going to do a show on Marian apparitions. At that time, I had never heard of a “Marian apparition.” I barely knew who Mary, the Mother of God was, other than from the nativity scene at Christmas. I certainly had not heard that she was appearing to people around the world!
My wife brought home a stack of books one night on different apparitions of Mary. I randomly picked up a book on Our Lady of Fatima, and started reading. I read the entire book that evening in one sitting. When I was done, I got up and told her, “I am going to hell.”
I had a moment of grace. My eyes were opened, and I knew I needed to change.
The next Saturday, I found the closest Catholic Church and went to confession for the first time since my first confession as a child. The priest was very surprised! But I walked out, and thanks be to God, I have been a faithful Catholic ever since.
In our lives, each of us faces a choice. We must choose between the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of this world. The kingdom of light or the kingdom of darkness. There is no middle ground. Jesus told us, “My kingship is not of this world.”2 “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.”3 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (riches).”4
Whose standard will we rally to?5 Christ Jesus, our Commander in Chief and Lord? Or Lucifer, the enemy of humanity? This is the foundational question and choice in the spiritual life. Jesus was very clear that “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”6
Make your choice. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”7
We can strengthen our choice for Christ by meditating on God’s love for us individually. God loves you personally! One way to do this is by applying various passages from the Scriptures to us personally and then meditating on what God is saying to us. Try reading this passage from the Prophet Isaiah as if it was being spoken to you personally by God the Father:
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you.8
There are other passages for similar reflection listed at the end of this article.
Another way to renew and strengthen our choice for Christ is to renew our baptismal promises. The first stage of the ancient rite of baptism for adults contains the following dialog. You can pray along and renew your own baptismal promises as a prayer to renew your commitment to the journey.
Priest (P): What are you asking of God’s church? All: Faith.
P: What does faith hold out to you? All: Everlasting life.
P: If, then, you wish to inherit everlasting life, keep the commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments depend the whole law and the prophets. Now faith demands that you worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in unity, neither confusing the Persons one with the other, nor making a distinction in their nature. For the Father is a distinct Person, so also the Son, so also the Holy Spirit; yet all Three possess the one nature, the one Godhead.
He questions them further, with all giving the answers together, each one for himself in the singular forms:
P: Do you renounce Satan? All: I do renounce him.
P: And all his works? All: I do renounce them.
P: And all his attractions? All: I do renounce them.
Next the priest questions them on the Creed, saying:
P: Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth? All: I do believe.
P: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was born into this world and suffered for us? All: I do believe.
P: Do you also believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting? All: I do believe.
My prayer for you today is that you would renew your commitment to Christ, made at your baptism, and set your hand again to the plow—make a resolution to spend time every day in prayer and spiritual reading, especially the Holy Bible; meditate on God’s love for you as His unique creation and child—and may the Holy Spirit breathe new life into you in the mighty Name of Jesus! Amen.
Power Tools for Prayer, Chapter 1 (Faith).
The Three Ages of the Spiritual Life: Prelude of Eternal Life (frequently cited in footnotes), “The Spiritual Age of Beginners” at pp. 267-274.
Isaiah 43:1-5; Jeremiah 31:1-14, 20-22; Psalm 103:1-22; Isaiah 49:8-16; Hosea 11:1-9; Daniel 10:4-19; Zephaniah 3:11-20; John 3:16.
Eric A. Welter is an employment lawyer and trial attorney with a long-time devotion to intercessory prayer. He is a Catholic Christian who has been involved with intercessory and healing prayer ministry for over twenty years. The Abound in Hope Ministry website is https://www.aboundinhope.org/ministry.
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I previously shared this story in the recorded talk “Tell them how much the Lord has done for you.”