The Spiritual Journey for Catholics

So many people today talk about being on a spiritual journey, but what does that journey look like for Catholics?

Begin with the End in Mind

The first thing to get clear is the goal, which goes by many names. Teresa of Avila says that our goal is a state, a condition of our soul in which the soul is at rest in its center, enjoying the presence of the indwelling Trinity. Stated more simply, we might say that the goal is to become a saint, become the man or woman God made you to be. Some might prefer to say that the goal is to become another Christ or communion with Christ. All this means the same thing.

If this is your goal, then you might ask: Where am I now? What are my major obstacles? What tools has God given me for making progress? What fuel do I need?

Know Where You Are

If where we’re going is to be totally alive in love of God and our neighbor, then the next question is, what’s stopping you? Let’s start with the worst case scenario:

  • Attachment to mortal sin: here you easily, joyfully, and almost automatically do one or more things that God says is very wrong. Perhaps the most common in today’s society is enjoying sexual pleasure outside of marriage.
  • Attachment to venial sin: here you easily, joyfully, and almost automatically do one or more things God says is wrong. This could be using bad language, disrespecting your parents, worrying, etc.

If you’re in either of these first 2 categories then you may go to confession, but you find yourself going right back to your sins. How do you get out? Just hold on a second. There’s at least one more category, ok?

  • Attachment to material, social, or spiritual goods: here you no longer fall easily into sin, but your imperfections are holding you back from union with God. This might include your bank account, your reputation, or even a favorite place to pray.

God has given us many resources as a solution to this problem including: the sacraments, spiritual reading, the example and intercession of the saints, spiritual direction, spiritual friendship, but most importantly: daily meditation with a concrete resolution.

What Happens When You Meditate

For Christians, meditation means

  1. reflecting on God’s Word so that you
  2. fall in love with it and then
  3. put it into practice in your everyday life.

Therefore it engages your whole person: your mind (reflection), your heart (falling in love), and your will (putting it in practice in your everyday life). This makes meditation your most powerful weapon in the spiritual journey. Need to grow in gratitude? Meditate on God’s gifts towards you. Need a dose of courage? Reflect on Jesus’ example before the Pharisees. Need more love? Reflect on Jesus crucified. By growing in virtue, you now have the fuel to eliminate your attachments and so become the saint God made you to be…