Thanks be to God for the gift of the Lenten season and as we strive to respond to this journey toward repentance, amendment and renewal, may we benefit from the throne of God’s graces and favours through Christ our Lord, Amen. We are still unfolding the signs of our growth in the spiritual life. Our focus this week is on Interior life. There is a saying: “Those who are nearest are the first to be heard. That is why you must get close to God and be intent on becoming a saint.” Accordingly, Jesus Christ the Chief Master of the Spiritual life avers, “Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Here is a direct pointer to the necessity of the interior life. The spiritual life hinges as we have said earlier on prayers, mortification and the sacraments. However, the foregoing can never bear fruits or help us to find meaning in God and life, unless we cultivation an interior life. This is what is sometimes called life in the spirit or as Mother Angelica calls it, a life with God in our souls. A life that seeks, searches and knocks on God in everything. In short another name for the spiritual life is interior life. Through self – evaluation, we can assess ourselves to know if we have an interior life.
As our physical life manifest in the world, so our interior life ought to subsist in the world of the Spirit in order to surface in the physical world. There seems to be a dichotomy between the two. Hence, the admonition, you are in the world but you are not of the world. It is echoed that “We should make no mistake. God is no shadowy or distant being who created us then abandoned us; nor is he a master who goes away and does not return. Though we do not perceive him with our senses, his existence is far truer than any of the realities which we touch and see. God is here with us, really present, living. He sees and hears us, He guides us, and knows our smallest deeds, our most hidden intentions.” This is the mindset of a spiritual person who cultivates and promotes an interior life. Life in God is immanent even though God is transcendent. The French theologian Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange succinctly captures the heart of the interior life: “As soon as a man seriously seeks truth and goodness, this intimate conversation with himself tends to become conversation with God. Little by little, instead of seeking himself in everything, instead of tending more or less consciously to make himself a centre, man tends to seek God in everything, and to substitute for egoism love of God and of souls in Him. This constitutes the interior life…”
The chief examples of interior life are Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Others are proximate models like the saints, such as: Ss. Paul, Augustine, Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, and Thérèse of Lisieux. Reading and reflecting on their works offers us an insight about the essence and necessity of the interior life. Summarily, one way they all employed to attain the interior life was listening to God daily. How did they listen to God for direction in the formation of their interior life?
They listened to the core teacher of the science of the interior life – Jesus Christ, Son of the Father in union with the Holy Spirit. It is never enough to read books and listen to earthly teachers on the subject of interior life. Go to the source. Most importantly the course outline for the subject of interior life is simply meditation. A lot of us today are naïve about meditation and are even frightened by the word! The fear of silence is as a result of egoism, noisiness and busyness in a hustling and bustling world. Some people complain of interior noises and guilt of sins when they sit to meditate. Again, until we return to this spiritual exercise daily, it will be difficult if not impossible to develop our interior life. Find time daily to meditate and you will never regret.
Now, here is a point for your daily examination. Have I allowed a day to pass, without talking and listening to my Father God? Have I in silence listened to Him with the love of a son, a daughter, or a friend? You can! Happy Sunday and I prayerfully wish you a fruitful Lenten observance.
God bless you! Fr. John-Mary Atep.