May 7, 2020frjohnma

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these (Mark 12:30-31).

Ruth Burrows, a contemporary spiritual writer argues in line with the Church Fathers that “God is not glorified by half-persons.” God is never a difficult Person and He cannot give us tasks that are beyond us. And in order for us to be enriched in life and beyond, He has endowed us with multifarious means to tap and equip ourselves. Since God operates from His abundance treasury and has empowered us with multiple graces, He therefore, does not act in half-measures and does not also expect us to act in half-measures. When we fail to understand God, His will and mode of operation, we can miss out in many ways, make a lot of mistakes and end up surviving instead of living.

Jesus says, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13). This means that the Holy Spirit does not operate in isolation. He works in collaboration with the other Persons of the Blessed Trinity, the Church, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Sacred Scriptures and the human person. The Holy Spirit is the power of God but He does not force Himself on us. We need to create the space for His entrance.

However, for too long, we have been living a divided life. A life St. Paul declares, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good.  So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me (Rom. 7:15-17). The foregoing life is what we see in many Christians. We see it playing out for instance when a legionary feels she does not need to cultivate a charismatic spirituality because she abhors the Catholic Charismatic renewal movement. Meanwhile the legionary promise is made thus: “Most Holy Spirit, I, (name of candidate).” On the other hand, many staunch members of the Catholic Charismatic renewal movement, do not pay attention to a true devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary because Mary is too dull and the Holy Spirit is Power. I thought the Saints who are the practical doctrine of our faith have said through St. Louis-Marie de Montfort that “God the Holy Spirit, who does not produce any divine person, became fruitful through Mary whom he espoused.” Let’s be careful!

The shortcoming we need to identify quickly and seek for the help of the Holy Spirit is minimalism. Minimalism is a special feature of the modern creed that advocates for what is the least do it. The minimalist is always asking, “What is the least I can do?”  It is about seeking to do minimally and get little rewards or results.  Minimalism is a disease of the modern age, an enemy of excellence and the father of mediocrity. Unfortunately, this trend has invaded our Church and spiritual life. On the other hand, some of us are aware of the enormity of the tasks in the spiritual life but we procrastinate. Something is grossly lacking and what is the way out?

There is something our teachers did not teach us in schools but thanks be to God for the Church. What we need now in order to harness all that we have been learning outside the Church and in the Church is integration. Integration is the ability and art of blending our perceived different parts to a unified whole. It is about paying attention to the whole rather than disperse piecemeal or fragmentary aspects of life. Meanwhile, it is not a short term activity but a lifelong affair. A serious disciple of the Holy Spirit will always listen to his/her spirit’s promptings that is informed by the Holy Spirit to connect with other supernatural agents and agencies of the spiritual life: the Holy Mass, the Holy Eucharist, the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Word of God.

Integration has several models and the simplest could be the inner urge to integrate our human person’s fragmented aspects of Body, Soul and Spirit.

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The human person is not a creation of fragments but a unified being. But lack of integration results in us living just as a body without soul and spirit or worse still struggling to live out a soulful and spiritual life without carrying the body along. Thank to St. Paul’s prayer for us to return to God in our wholeness. He prays, “May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Thess. 5:23).

Finally, failure in integrating even the immediate needs of our human persons reflects also in our difficult in integrating our various spiritualities of the Holy Mass, the Holy Eucharist, the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Sacred Scriptures. Be blessed always.

Reflective questions

  1. Must you belong to all pious societies in the Church before you can respect the various and essential gifts of God? What is your attitude towards other spiritualities, devotions and apostolates that you are not part of their groups?
  2. What effort are you making to respond to the prayer of St. Paul: “May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely (wholeness); and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Thess. 5:23)?

Text for further inner work: Rom. 7:14-25 and Mark 12:30-31

Comments (9)

  • Juliana-Mary Ukeje

    May 7, 2020 at 12:44 pm

    Wonderful but also a very terrifying message! Thank you Father for the caution; it is just like Shakespeare also said in his Julius Caesar, ie the fault is not in our star but in ourselves!; God has given us His graces and all the required means for our salvation as a “whole” and not in half measures and so we should in turn make use of the “whole” and not shortchange ourselves in the associated benefits. A very resounding “Amen!” indeed to St. Paul’s prayer for this greatly needed life of wholeness in body, Soul and Spirit. I’m sure if we truly seek to see the benefits of the Holy Spirit’s manifestations in others and in the pious societies that we don’t belong to, He will not only reveal it to us, but He will also show us how to apply it to ours and subsequently attain the desired wholeness in our love & service to God.

    1. frjohnma

      May 7, 2020 at 10:50 pm

      Thanks for your great comments and prayers. I am hoping that very soon we shall begin to pay attention to our various callings and respect others too. What we lack and see in others create a lot of challenges. Therefore, we need to discover ourselves before knowing God properly. Thanks

  • AndyMarie

    May 7, 2020 at 1:02 pm

    Thanks for the sharing and clarification. It reminds of Luke 6.38, Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” this tells us that God is not a half baked God. He needs our fullest cooperation and gift in other to please him. If all of us with the fullness of these diverse spirituality could understand our unique we are and use it collectively His grace will be running over us.
    It’s high time we started appreciate the spirituality of others in the church and together the body of Christ( church) would be more strengthened.
    Thanks Padre.

    1. frjohnma

      May 7, 2020 at 10:52 pm

      At the heart of the spiritual life is our cooperation with God and our contributions to the life of people. Thanks

  • Louis Mathias

    May 7, 2020 at 2:45 pm

    We need to be truly integrated to be able to live a balanced spiritual life. We pray for the grace of true integration in our Spiritual Life, through Christ Our Lord Amen. Thanks Fr for sharing

    1. frjohnma

      May 7, 2020 at 10:53 pm

      Thanks Fr for your words and prayers. They are very helpful

    2. frjohnma

      May 8, 2020 at 8:05 am

      Integration is a must. We pray for divine direction, so that we may not end without the ultimate fruits in the spiritual life

  • Clifford Yaor

    May 7, 2020 at 10:57 pm

    Comment (Required) Greetings Fr. this sharing means a lot for me, because I keep asking myself those questions, that how can we be worshiping under one roof and we will be doubting other spiritualities just because we belong to different societies in the same Catholic Church. For me those societies are for us to strengthen our spiritual life. I don’t look down on any of them. I believed in the Holy Trinity, three persons in one God. So we have different pious societies in one Catholic Church all practicing our spirituality towards heaven. we just have to integrate for us to achieve the purpose which we were made. Have I wish this is posted for the Catholic Church in Nigeria to read. Thank you Fr.

    1. frjohnma

      May 8, 2020 at 8:03 am

      Waooooooo! Thanks for your thunderous comments and appeal. God through His Son in the Holy Spirit Has heard us and He will keep exposing to us the truth and purge us of our unnecessary hate speeches and ill feelings against one another. Blessings!

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