One of the most difficult challenges in the spiritual life is to continuously press ahead on the journey. To have an attitude similar to that expressed by Admiral David Farragut when he ordered, “Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead!” in the face of apparent disaster.
Because making progress in the spiritual life is warfare. And the consequences of this war in which we are engaged has the highest of stakes–eternal life or death.
However, there are two BIG challenges to forging ahead: 1)our human tendency to seek situations where we feel “comfortable,” and 2) to fail to use the weapons that are at our disposal.
For example, how many of us, have to spend months fighting to establish good spiritual habits? Like getting up 10 minutes earlier so we have time to read the daily Scripture readings? Or to we determine that we need to be spending more time with our loved ones in conversation?
But then we realize we should spend a few minutes in quiet meditation and decide to adjust our wake up time by 5 minutes. But then we find that we have to fight again to get up a mere 5 minutes earlier–simply because we are comfortable with getting up only 10 minutes earlier! 🤦♀️
Or we find ourselves sitting on the couch binge watching another Netflix show (definitely one of my great challenges!), and we sit and watch more shows instead of going and having a conversation with our loved ones?
Pretty sad, huh?
Yet I am sure that you can think of numerous other examples that illustrate how you seek comfort instead of persevering in the 4 steps of the spiritual journey.
I also said that we fail to use the weapons God has put at our disposal. One of the greatest of these weapons is our guardian angel.
Who, or what are guardian angels? In a nutshell, they are the angelic beings that God has placed beside us to protect and guide us.
The Guardian Angel prayer that many children learn encapsulates very nicely what it is that we profess and believe about our guardian angels. The prayer goes:
Angel of God, my guardian dear,
To whom God’s love commits me here.
Every this day, be at my side,
To light, to guard, to rule, to guide.
This belief in guardian angels and the hierarchy of the Heavenly realm has its roots in Judaism, and has been a part of Christianity’s teachings throughout the centuries. Yet, most people fail to call upon the assistance of their guardian angel.
Why? Similar to the biggest reason we fail to persevere–fear.
What kind of fear? The fear of loss or change. The fear of looking naive or foolish. The fear of facing the evil in and around us, so we just ignore it. That is all fear.
Fear is what prompts us to continuously seek out what is “comfortable.” Fear causes us to ignore the weapons God has given every one of us.
Now, most of us learned that in the face of fear, we respond with a natural “fight or flight” mode. We choose to either stand and fight, or we choose to flee from the fear we are facing.
Sometimes, the natural inclination to flee is so overwhelming that it doesn’t even seem like we are making a choice, but it’s important to remember that we are.
Now, in the spiritual journey, it’s important that we recognize that those fears we have never go away. We must choose to fight them every day in order to make progress and to persevere on the journey.
An old Chinese proverb says, “Do not be afraid of growing slowly, be afraid of standing still.”
In fact, Saint Teresa of Avila said something similar when she was advising her sisters about the life of prayer and told them that if you are “holding steady” in the spiritual life, then you are actually already moving backwards.
But remember, God has not left us to fight on our own.
Just think of the weapons He has given us–the Holy Spirit, His Presence in the sacraments, the communion of saints, and of course, one of the most powerful weapons of all–our guardian angels, whom we honor and celebrate today.
I have a T-shirt that I wear that says, “I am not afraid……I was born to do this.” This are words that were spoken by Saint Joan of Arc, a 15 year old girl in medieval France just prior to leading the hugely outnumbered French military forces to victory.
I often think about Joan’s example–her faith and trust that she was doing exactly what God had created her to do, and how she embraced the challenges in the spiritual life and eventually, with God’s help, became a saint.
Just like Joan, each of us has been born to seek out our truest self by embracing the adventure of the spiritual journey. Then, with God’s assistance and those already in the Heavenly realm, we are given the courage to do our part in the battle.
So we may all joyously and victoriously ride alongside our great King into, and for all eternity.
Just SAY YES.
Christina Semmens is a Roman Catholic author, blogger, speaker and mentor. She currently lives in Fort Payne, Alabama where she strives to live out a life of authentic discipleship in the pursuit of holiness while encouraging, teaching and accompanying others in striving to do the same. You can find out more about Christina and her ministry efforts at www.sayyestoholiness.com. Or sign up up for her weekly Say Yes to Holiness newsletter here.