Maturity Part II: Spiritual Maturity - The Holy Spirit Show
by Dr. Leela Francisco
Every single one of us, as Catholics’, through the sacraments of Baptism, Holy Eucharist and Confirmation, have received the ‘New Life’ of Jesus and the ‘Gifts and Charisms’ of the Holy Spirit. It is all stored in our Spirit. We have all been “Born Again” through our sacraments. Don’t let any ill-informed Protestant group talk you out of it.
These Graces, received through our Sacraments, are a seed within us that is waiting to bear fruit, if we acknowledge their presence and we learn how to help them grow into maturity.
Some basic questions:
“Who am I?
The answer to that is: “I am a child of God who created me”. God says to us in Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.”
Another common question at First Holy Communion classes is:
“Why did God make me?”
The answer: “To know Him, love Him, to serve Him, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven”. Boy, I didn’t have a clue what all this meant back then!
Why are these two questions so important as I make a decision to embark on the journey Spiritual Maturity? I will explain it in detail below. But first, let us realize that our routines of going to Church every Sunday, saying our morning and night prayers, praying the Rosary, etc are not necessarily signs of Spiritual Maturity. This is what I’d call Baby Faith.
When we were babies, we were fed milk (nursed or bottle fed) round the clock. But then we reached an age when we had solid food slowly introduced into our system till we were ready to move totally onto a balanced diet. We grew up, and now we’re teenagers. Some of us Hate milk! But we still eat good (adult) food, right?
It is the same with growing spiritually. If we remain little children in our faith, we can never fully experience the fullness of God’s reason for creating us or the power of the Spirit within us. We gain Spiritual maturity through eating solid Spiritual food which is reading the Word of God and experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. In Hebrews 5:11-14, 6:1-5, St. Paul tell us the same thing in exactly the same words. We could never truly experience the wonder of God’s love and promises in our lives if we continued to be (spiritual) babies drinking milk.
Maturing with the Spirit:
If we are God’s children created by God, obviously he has already planned our agenda for life. What is this plan? It is a plan for our deep happiness, blessings in abundance, for an overflow of it into the lives of those around each of us – family, friends, colleagues, and just about any person on the street. It is a plan for us to attain (here on earth) our highest human potential in the Holy Spirit. As a Christian, I am a unique member of Christ’s Body with a personal role in it given by God for the good of mankind.
When I pay heed to what God wants for me right at this early stage in life, I make decisions that are in line with His Will. It not only benefits me for the rest of my life, but blesses everyone else around me as well.
While I have been maturing emotionally (as explained in the previous article), I have learnt how to listen to my heart. My heart in turn is sensitive to my soul where I hear the whispering of the Holy Spirit within me. I experience the gifts of the Spirit (love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, humility, self control) in this way to help me in every situation, problem or difficulty that comes my way.
It takes a little practice and prayer. But with Faith and a conviction that the seeds of all these virtues are implanted firmly within my Spirit through the Grace of the Sacraments, I make a firm decision to draw from this wellspring in every situation.
We get better and better at doing so with experience. Some of us get there only by the time we’re middle aged, for others, much later. But working at it is what counts! While we’re busy focusing on God and learning to do things His way, He is blessing us all around, with good health, financial stability, success in our profession, love from our friends and family, etc, etc. We reap what we sow throughout our lives. Sow good seed and the blessing of harvest is sure to come. This is essentially what it means to be living in the kingdom of God – these are inbuilt kingdom laws.
Difficulties will arise, pain and sorrow is part of life – but we have love, joy and peace residing within us to see us through each of these situations. It is Jesus who carries us through all of this, the Holy Spirit strengthening us with Grace.
What are the stages in Spiritual Maturity?
There are various simple ways of maturing Spiritually.
The “Our Father” that Jesus taught us is one example of how God intended our lives to be:
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name
We must worship and praise God’s holy name at all times, even during times of difficulty. This releases his power directly into our situations when we do so. Start with a prayer of praise and worship every time to begin to pray. Is it no wonder that almost every Psalm in the book of Psalms is a hymn of praise and worship for every situation?
Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven
Do you know that we pray that we may always live in the Kingdom of God, where God has (spiritually) already provided for us abundant blessings in every area of our lives? Our prayer is that this becomes a reality here on earth as it already is in heaven! The Spiritual reality needs to become a physical reality through our faith and listening to the voice of God.
Give us today our daily bread
With faith we know that as God’s children, He provides for us exactly what we need (and more) daily (physical, emotional and spiritual food). So there is no need for concern or anxiety! We pray placing our needs before God, then trust and wait, believing that he has already answered our prayer out of His abundance.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us
We ask God forgiveness for our own sins after we have made the effort to forgive all those who have hurt us. We need emotional maturity to forgive others as much as we need the Grace of God to help us with this. Inability to forgive keeps us emotionally and spiritually stunted.
Do not bring us to the test, but deliver us from evil
We are always protected from danger and delivered from the evil one creating obstacles in our life, when we depend on God and live in the Kingdom of God. Our constant and unwavering trust in God is all that we need.
To know Him, To love Him, To serve him, To be happy with Him forever in heaven
This is another a simple direction for Spiritual Growth, one that we all can understand.
To Know Him:
Everyday I need to know my God more – one can never stop discovering more about God, He is infinite. How does one know a friend? By constant interaction: spending time together, talking with one another, having fun together, sharing ones problems with each other…. That is exactly the way we get to know God. We develop this relationship with Him; involve Him in all that we do, talk to Him about all that we experience, the good and the bad. We experience His love and faithfulness to us in this way. Any difficulty or problem that we surrender to His intervention in faith, He comes through to help us, every time. He always provides the answers if we look well enough, He always answers our prayers. Prayer is the hotline to God, it is our relationship with God.
To Love Him:
Once I have experienced how faithful and loving He is, now its my turn to Love Him right back. It is just what God is waiting for. The Old Testament says He is a “jealous” God. This means, that He wants us to focus our (Spiritual) love on Him in order that He can bless us abundantly without any distraction and dilution created by the evil of the world. When I learn to love Him, I experience even more deeply what the unconditional love of God is, the Agape love. I understand better how “(agape) love makes the world go round”!
It is in this stage that God's plan for my life will become clearer in my heart. Having become sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit in my soul, my heart is more easily able to know more deeply what His Will for me is, what He wanted me to do with my life. I have a Dream that becomes My Mission. This mission becomes part of my personal or professional life or else is something I do that fulfills my soul apart from my duties or profession.
To Serve Him:
When I have discerned “My Mission” in life, I am now ready to serve Him in a more focused manner. To serve Him means to love and serve others. Matthew 25:40 Jesus says:“….Amen, I say to you whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me”. If I haven’t experienced the love of God in my heart, how do I serve other people for Christ? I’d be drained of all energy trying to do it on my own human strength, and I’d be empty and sick! The Holy Spirit with spiritual energy and revelation propels me in my mission to achieve my dream, the seeds of which were planted by God in my Spirit before I was born. Now I am living and achieving my true human and spiritual potential, as was the plan of God for me when he created me. This is what we understand when God speaks to each one of us in Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.”
To be happy with Him forever in heaven: And then, once my work here on earth is done, all that’s left for me is to be happy with Him forever in heaven. God is waiting for us to be with him in Paradise again. Each soul is precious to Him. He loves each one of us as individual souls, just like a mother loves each one of her children as individuals. We do not have to be afraid of death. It is a wonderful event after an earthly life well lived. In fact we need to be looking forward to being back with God again in that beautiful paradise called heaven, where there is no pain, no sorrow, no sickness and no evil. If we learnt how to live abundantly and experience the love of God here on earth, why would we be afraid of dying and being with Him forever in heaven?!
Is spiritual maturity only for those called to be nuns and priests? Is it something so difficult that we ordinary people cannot attain?
NO, we have ALL been called by God to be relationship with him and to seek His kingdom. Each of us can follow the steps above if we choose to. It is possible for each of us to attain this at ones own pace of growth. All we need to do is to be Aware of this direction, TRUST God and then embark on the Holy Spirit Show! The abundant blessings of the Kingdom of God will follow, because Jesus promised us they would!
In Matthew 6:23 Jesus said, “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you”.
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© 2005 Dr. Leela Francisco. All rights reserved.