A reflection on Matthew Leonard’s “The 3 Stages of Interior Life” by Hope Reyes
Have you ever been to an amusement park? All the rides are continuously moving, up and down, left or right, forward and back. The only time the rides are static is when it isn’t moving at all. Our lives are like that, either we move forward and see what life brings us, or we regress and dwell in the past. There is no ‘pause’ button in life, the only time it is static is when your life has come to its end.
The same is true in our spiritual lives, you are either moving closer to God or moving away from Him, there is no in-between. We must always remember the main purpose of our lives, we are created to be in union with God. Our life is not the destination, it is a journey that will lead us to eternal life with our Father. Our life here on earth is just a foretaste of heaven thus we should make the most of it by living our lives as God planned it to be.
Just as rides operate on machines and batteries, our lives must also be centered on prayers and sacraments. These help bring us closer to God, but that isn’t a means to an end, we must also strive to be in a state of grace always, making a conscious effort to completely turn away from sin (venial or mortal) and our vices (our addiction and sinful pleasures). Sins and vices are like rust that cling to metal making the rides faulty and dangerous.
True Christian growth means seeing the true value of suffering in our lives. We suffer not because God doesn’t love us, but because He wants us to learn from it in the process, He wants us to grow and overcome our sins. When we are able to overcome the negative connotation we have of suffering, we are able to see the bigger picture that God has laid out for us in our lives. We see the beauty and gift of these sufferings.
Another way of suffering is through voluntary penance or self-mortification, we deliberately give up things that can make us happy and offer them to God as a form of offering and self-sacrifice. We can even offer to God all our pains, hurts and sufferings as a form of redemptive suffering for others, a way of consecrating our prayers for them through voluntary sacrifices. Let us always remember that everything we lift up to God, the Lord consecrates and makes holy. Just like the amusement park rides that knows its purpose, even through the changes in season never fails to realize it’s ultimate goal and value, we too must always believe that God has a great plan in store for us, and we should never lose heart, the Lord sanctifies our sacrifices and pains when we lift them all up to Him.
When we have completely purged ourselves of our sins, then we become closer to God, we feel His love more greatly in our lives, not because He loves us less when we were sinful, but because our eyes that have been covered by our sins can now see clearly and see the great hand of God working in and through our lives. We are illuminated by the love of God. We become much closer to Him.
And when we let God take total control of our lives, literally give up and lift up everything to Grace, we become selfless and we begin to truly love the people around us just as God loves us. We become God’s instruments of grace here on earth. Despite all our sufferings and past mistakes, the Lord uses us to bless others, to inspire others, and most importantly to love and spread love to those most in need. We become in union with God by completely abandoning ourselves to Him, thus we move forward, ever closer to our end goal, heaven.