Meditation for February 2020
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.
O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy his consolations, through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
Place yourself in God’s presence, surrendering yourself to Him and offering Him praise and thanksgiving.
Galatians 5:16-26 (RSVCE)
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are plain: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another.
“Now the works of the flesh are plain…”
Except they aren’t, not for the scrupulous person.
Scrupulosity has way of making what ought to be obvious, not obvious. We who struggle with it often feel on edge, wondering if we’re sinning or courting temptation, even in the decisions that God leaves to our human freedom.
And those fruits of the Spirit, against which there is no law? We worry about those, too: we fear we’re failing God because we don’t have enough love, joy, peace, patience, etc. Or sometimes we can’t appreciate God’s gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, etc., wherever they may be found, because we’re too busy doubting and judging ourselves.
Worry. Worry, worry, worry, worry, worry.
Sometimes we need another person to point out the obvious. This is why St. Alphonsus Liguori recommends we have a spiritual director. St. Alphonsus experienced terrible scruples, and he found great freedom in obeying his director. He also saw it as an opportunity to grow in faith and humility.
Don’t worry about finding the “perfect” spiritual director. Applying the principle is what matters most. If you cannot find a priest or trained director, find a wise person who exhibits the fruits of the Spirit and ask if he or she would be willing to be your “check-in” person. Let's not complicate things unnecessarily!
The counsel of others is the Holy Spirit’s gift to us. Embrace His gift.
Choose one of the following questions to consider:
Where do you find the fruits of the Holy Spirit in your life? Think broadly and concretely.
How do you approach a crisis of conscience? From whom do you seek advice? Sometimes scrupulous people will bounce from one person to another and then find themselves unable to make a decision, owing to conflicting advice. Do you do this?
Make a list of potential directors and/or “check-in” persons. (Other than your spouse.) What would your expectations be for your director? What kind of respectful boundaries would you and your director need to set? How and how often would you like to check in? A daily text message? One phone call a week? One coffee date a month?
Are you too transparent, confessing your anxieties or sins to every person you meet? Or conversely, do you find it difficult to be honest, even in confession or spiritual direction? Why or why not? What does your heart seek?
Bring your needs and wants to our loving God.
O merciful God, grant that I may
and bring to perfect completion
whatever is pleasing to you
for the praise and glory of Your name.
Put my life in good order, O my God.
— St. Thomas Aquinas, from “For Ordering a Life Wisely” (The Aquinas Prayer Book, trans. Anderson and Moser)
Scripture quotations are from The Catholic Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1965, 1966 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission in accordance with fair use. All rights reserved worldwide.