How to apply the Saint's examples
#15
This is where the developments of systematic spiritual theology in the last two and a half centuries have come very much in handy. The Church down through the ages has discerned through the life of Her own members precisely the questions being asked here, and She offers us relatively clear answers actually. Three excellent and classic works (somewhat dry because they are primarily academic and not popular works) are:

Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, Three Ages of the Spiritual Life (TAN Books), 2 vol.
Antonio Royo Marin, The Theology of Christian Perfection (Wipf & Stock), 1 vol. (Or if you can read Spanish, search for his original Teologia de la Perfeccion Cristiana (2 vol.), which is actually significantly longer; the translation leaves a lot out.)
Jordan Aumann, Spiritual Theology (Continuum), 1 vol.

The shortest of those three is Aumann's Spiritual Theology, which is actually a summary of Royo-Marin's Theology of Christian Perfection. Garrigou-Lagrange praised Royo-Marin's work as the best manual of spiritual theology he had read, so that is extremely high praise.

But if you lack the time to read those tomes, here is the summary:

1. Life, by its nature, tends to its own perfection. Natural life develops from its early stages into full maturity, assuming nothing hinders its proper growth.

2. Since grace is the life of God in the soul, grace too ought to develop in the soul to full maturity. This is called holiness or sanctity. It is the life of Christ in our souls, developed to the point that we can say with St. Paul, "Now I live, but no longer I but Christ within me."

3. Human life reaches its natural happiness through virtue since virtue is proper to being creatures of reason and emotion.

4. But grace adds to virtue the life of God and extends these virtues so that we must consider even the supernatural realm. Here is where Christ's full revelation comes into play. Christ showed us that virtue ultimately can find its completion only in

1) The fulfillment of the Commandments, principally the Commandments of Love: Love God and love your neighbor as He has loved us.

2) The participation in the life of the Church through the Sacraments, beginning with Baptism and Confirmation, strengthened by Communion, healed by Confession, specified by Matrimony or Holy Orders, and prepared by Extreme Unction; liturgical life also is essential here.

3) The life of prayer, both public (liturgical) and private (vocal and mental prayer). Private prayer aids the life of virtue and duties, and the fulfillment of the latter help the life of prayer as both lead us closer to God. Conscious prayer begins to give way to higher, "unconscious" forms of prayer, deeper prayers, such as contemplation. This is the prayer of the Saints and is extraordinary only in the sense that few seem to noticeably attain it. However, all are called to the deepest prayer life since grace, by its nature, tends to full maturity.

5. Extraordinary graces, such as St. Paul enumerates in his epistles, are just that: extraordinary; graces such as speaking in tongues, levitation, bilocation, reading of the heart, the stigmata, etc. are not part of the essential aspect of the life of grace. Otherwise Christ would have said so, but He didn't, and the testimony of the Church bears witness to it.

6. However, it just so happens that as people attain greater and more intimate union with God, God usually tends to favor such people with at least one of these extraordinary graces. We must recall at this point what St. Paul says about such gifts: they are for the benefit of others, and towering above all such graces is charity, which is the essence of the spiritual life. Hence he says, "If I can speak in the tongues of angels but have not charity, I am nothing." He likewise says in Colossians: "But above all these things, put on charity, which is the bond of perfection."

It makes sense that God favors the holy with these extraordinary graces because the soul at this point lives solely for God, and God desires that all be saved. Hence these holy souls above all others can help save others by being pure instruments of grace. Their extraordinary gifts can be used without relative danger to that individual's pride because they have died to their self-love. If God were to grant such graces to those younger or less mature in the spiritual life, there would be serious danger of a fall and scandal, which we see always in the false mystics and visionaries.

To summarize once again:

The life of grace leads, assuming it is unhindered and helped along the way, to perfect holiness.

Perfect holiness consists essentially in charity within the soul, the life and love of God, as Scripture and Tradition reveals, and the life of charity is fostered by participating in 1) the life of the Church (Sacraments and personal vocation), 2) the life of virtue (Commandments and virtues), and 3) the life of prayer.

As to how to apply the extraordinary graces in one's life, that requires a competent and holy spiritual director at all times and perfect submission to the authority of the Church. Everyone who didn't do that either wasn't a true mystic or ended up falling away. God will guide the soul to the proper exercise of these gifts because at that point in the spiritual life, the soul moves when the Holy Ghost moves it as St. John of the Cross demonstrates in his writings.
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Messages In This Thread
How to apply the Saint's examples - by introvert - 05-28-2016, 01:29 AM
Re: How to apply the Saint's examples - by brogan - 05-29-2016, 11:32 AM
Re: How to apply the Saint's examples - by brogan - 05-30-2016, 06:57 AM
Re: How to apply the Saint's examples - by Zubr - 06-04-2016, 09:52 AM
Re: How to apply the Saint's examples - by richgr - 06-04-2016, 11:42 PM
Re: How to apply the Saint's examples - by richgr - 06-06-2016, 12:48 AM
Re: How to apply the Saint's examples - by richgr - 06-06-2016, 12:53 PM



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