Fast cars. Fast cash. Fast food. Everybody wants things fast. But in the spiritual life, that’s the fastest way to crash and burn.
When becoming serious about spiritual growth, many beginners forget that conforming one’s life to Christ is a lifetime project. Sin cannot be overcome through one fervent reception of the Eucharist, one excruciating confession, or even one 2am trip to the adoration chapel.
The spiritual life is a marathon.
In his classic work Introduction to the Devout Life, St. Francis de Sales says that “purgation and healing, whether body or of soul, takes place only little by little and by passing from one advance to another with difficulty and patience” (Part One Section 5). Even the winged angels on Jacob’s ladder “did not fly but went up and down in order and step by step.”
Just like a person recovering from a natural illness, it takes time to overcome spiritual sickness and restore health.
This is why perseverance and patience are so necessary. Too many of us get down on ourselves for not improving rapidly. We’re so geared for immediate results, that we forget the spiritual life is all about undoing the evil that has been festering for millennia.
And we’re not just fighting ourselves.
We’re fighting against “the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places,” says St. Paul (Eph 6:12). It’s a war in which every inch of territory of our lives we retake from the Evil One takes blood, sweat, tears, and a truckload of time and grace.
Don’t give up just because you don’t see immediate change. Don’t get discouraged because you sometimes fall. Just as in the natural life, growth takes time. Slow and steady wins the spiritual race.
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