It’s no secret that perseverance is one of the most important attributes of the spiritual life. And yet, it’s often the case that following the initial euphoria of Easter, many of us fall back into the same-old bad habits we sought to destroy during Lent.
We let down our guard and forget to keep seeking hard after the Lord. And while it’s a foolish move for all of us, for some, it’s a very dangerous game.
Let me explain.
The great Dominican, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, tells the story of how St. Catherine of Genoa was drawn at a very early age into a deeply powerful relationship with the Lord. But after a few years of progress, she “fell off the spiritual wagon,” so to speak.
She returned to a more worldly life.
Five long years later she finally came back to her senses and threw herself back into the spiritual life out of a fervent desire to draw as close to the Lord as possible.
And she never wanted to regress again.
“If I should turn back, I should wish my eyes to be torn out, and even that would not seem sufficient.”
And maybe you’re thinking, “Whoa! That’s pretty intense!” And it is.
But St. Catherine had finally come to the understanding that even the tiniest iota of God’s precious grace is worth more than anything andeverything this world can offer.
And thank goodness she did!
Because Father Garrigou says while some souls might squeak into eternity with a half-hearted approach, for others like Catherine, “mediocrity is not possible; if they do not give themselves entirely to God on the road of sanctity, they will belong wholly to themselves.”
Because these people have a spiritual temperament that inclines them to a kind of “all or nothing,” type attitude.
Their God-given desire for “more” is extremely powerful.
And if they don’t totally give themselves over to the pursuit of God, they’ll give themselves over to the world…completely. Once turned from God, they turn totally in on themselves and dive headlong into the dark pit that leads to eternal misery.
That’s why Fr. Garrigou says there’s a sense in which they resemble the angels.
Referencing St. Thomas Aquinas, he says, “The angel…is either very holy or very wicked; there is no middle course…Either it becomes holy, forever established in supernatural good, or it turns away from God forever.”
Of course, we have to remember that these souls only resemble the angels.
Unlike angels, our decisions are never completely final. God is always ready to receive us back when we fall.
“For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him,” says 2 Chronicles 30:9.
That said, we never want to presume upon God’s mercy. That’s a sin.
We need to persevere and turn our eyes to the Lord daily.
Regardless of our spiritual temperament, there’s absolutely zero reason to everroll the dice on eternity by toying with the sinful pleasures of this world. There’s no reason to be half-hearted in our pursuit of God.
So don’t waste the Easter graces Christ has given us!
Every one of us needs to develop the same “all in” attitude as St. Catherine so as to make real spiritual progress and be transformed in Christ.
Our relationship with Him is everything!
As St. Paul declares, “Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ” (Eph 3:8).
God bless you!
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“Seriously! Why weren’t we taught this before?”