Our last post considered the wretched existence of our poor souls and our complete reliance on the benevolence and Goodness of Christ. I would like now to consider how this Divine Help is experienced during life and their salutary effects on the soul.
As Catholics, we have been given grace upon grace and yet we may be unaware of the majesty of these gifts and the mystical effects these graces supply to the soul. As a Catholic we were given the Sacraments of Initiation; Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist. The grace that we receive from these gifts is given ex opere operato, by the very fact of being administered. These gifts are essential to our spiritual life. Without them we would continue our lives in complete despair, knowing that we, by ourselves, and in our present state cannot cure ourselves and moreover have no right to expect or warrant being healed by salvific grace; what we would call sanctifying grace. Without sanctifying grace, God will not recognize you; for it is the presence of His Son dwelling in your soul that gives you the ability, the dignity and the right to salvation. Your dignity resides wholly in Christ as long as Christ resides in you. His presence is essential for your spiritual life as well as your eternal life.
Our sacraments of healing are Christ’s gifts freely given to all who wish to abide in the Church, His Mystical Body. These sacraments, Reconciliation or Penance and the Anointing of the Sick, are meant to restore us to the state which we previously attained, after failing our Lord and our Church by sin; thereby falling, as it were, from a state of grace. Now the beautiful aspect of what was commonly called Confession is that we are expected to make an inspection of our lives on a regular basis. We are to examine how we have failed our commitment to live a life of virtue, whether by a committed act or by an omission of an act that we should have performed. This in and of itself is the constant inspection we are called to make while training our wills to be completely submissive to the Will of God.
Examination of Conscience is a valuable tool left us by the Church and can be utilized in a more effective way by the spiritual aspirant than most Catholics ever dreamt. For the ardent spiritual aspirant, being actively engaged in ridding themselves of sin and gaining the habits of virtue, can utilize the practice of the examination to great benefit. Often they determine their predominant fault and work on eradicating it by working valiantly on obtaining the very virtue that is opposed to the fault which continuously causes them to fail. This is called particular examen and is a method of catching oneself at the moment of committing the fault and making note of it immediately. Over time, a continuous examen, will allow the pilgrim soul to free itself from the attacks of evil and advance in the spiritual way.
Most valuable of all, for our strength in the climb to perfection, is the frequent reception of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He is our spiritual food and drink for the journey; supplying us with all the graces needed. After all He is the Grace: the Gift that is freely given to the soul that supplies all our needs. He remains in residence within our souls until we break with Him through sin. His Holiness will not allow Him to be present in a soul stained with serious sin. Therefore it is of the highest priority that one keep his soul pure; treating the soul as we would the Holy of Holies, free from the stain of sin and a welcoming home for Christ Himself.
Though we will fail from time to time, Christ is always eager to return to the soul at the next Eucharist to dwell within us should we but make the necessary amends in Confession for our mortal sins or by reconfirming our wills to eradicate our un-Confessed venial sins. Such is the forgiveness of a loving Father that will not abandon His children if they but turn back to Him. The Church and Her Sacraments allows the spiritual aspirant to prosper and advance in the spiritual life and are indispensable to anyone who truly is looking to climb from despair to a sublime subsistence in and with Christ Himself.