Daily Spiritual Growth Tools

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Daily Spiritual Growth ToolsDaily Spiritual Growth Tools

Episode 16

 

Some tools for Daily Spiritual Growth

“Acquire a fresh, spiritual way of thinking. You must put on that new man created in God’s image, whose justice and holiness is born of truth. (Ephesians 4: 23-24) Over the last 50 years or so I have met a good number of sincere and well-meaning people who genuinely desire to grow and mature as a Christian. A high percentage of these individuals have experienced significant times of profound graces of conversion, but for various reasons seemed unable to follow through with the necessary activity to grow in the gift of living life in the kingdom of God.

In Luke’s Gospel Jesus is traveling from town to town preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. Many had come from the surrounding town’s and a large crowd had gathered. Jesus spoke in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled, and the birds of the sky ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew, it withered for lack of moisture. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold. After he said this, he called out “Whoever has ears to hear, ought to hear.”

Later, when his disciples asked Jesus about the parable, he said to them.” This is the meaning of the parable: “The seed is the word of God, Those on the path are the ones who have heard, but the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts that they may not believe and be saved. Those on rocky ground, are those who when they hear, receive the word with joy, but they have no root; they believe only for a time and fall away in time of trial. As for the seed that fell among thorns, they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along, they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they fail to produce mature fruit. But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, bear fruit through perseverance…take care then how you hear. To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away.” (Lk. 8: 4-18)  

Living faithfully the way of life I have committed myself to live as a Christian. For some this will be living a “Catholic Way of Life”, for others it will be living according to the requirements of the Denomination or Christian group to which I belong. These commitments are fulfilled specifically in light of the permanent vocation which I have chosen for my personal life. The Christian life is not the life of “a lone ranger”, but a life in community. As I grow in faithfulness to these commitments, I receive an abundance of opportunities to grow in holiness and maturity.

The development of a frequent or daily personal prayer time. Please review the podcast reflection entitled, “A Frequent Personal Prayer Time”. The goal of the Christian is not just to have a frequent personal prayer time. The goal is to live a life of prayer. The key to this reality is to have an ever growing personal relationship of love with Jesus. For the Christian, this experience is lived in relationship with the Father who draws us to live in Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. There are many written materials for practical advice designed to establish this objective.

A frequent reading for prayerful study of The Word of God. Almost all the Church Fathers and current writers in the Christian life give strong encouragement for a frequent reading of Scripture, both the Old and New Testament. Our life lived in a Holistic Contemplative Spiritual Journey bears abundant fruit, in light of the fact that each one of us is called to be holy as our Heavenly Father is Holy. Our beloved Father calls each of his children to be formed as sons and daughters by the Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The method that best accomplishes this objective is called “Lectio Divina”. In this practice, one takes a short Biblical story or selection from Scripture, reads it slowly and meditatively, and then spends a period of time in conversation, communication, and the experience of communion with our Lord. Realizing it essentially involves being in the presence of the Lord, and listening to how and what he speaks to us!

Designing a Spiritual Growth Plan for my life. The Spiritual Growth Plan is a flexible tool which assists one in growing in the spiritual life and aids in the development of personal maturity. This plan relates to keeping my priorities in good order. For example, I may be spending an inordinate amount of time, on say point number five which is serving in building the Kingdom of the Lord or church work. However, I may be spending very little time with my children. A spiritual plan helps me become aware of this neglect and aids me in making the necessary adjustment in my priorities. The key issue that I may want to ask myself is this, am I generally experiencing a balance in my growth in holiness, my responsibilities, and human maturity? The aim here is to develop a flexible, adjustable, plan that fits my situation, and which I frequently and honestly evaluate. It is important in designing a spiritual growth plan that I am very specific, direct, honest, and patient with myself. I realize that I can keep this personal plan private if I choose.

A Model

Is my relationship with God, my number one priority, in a good place at this time in my life? Do I have a decent prayer time identified in my schedule? Do I frequently use Scripture, and open to use other meaningful devotions? Am I disciplined in my life, and practice the responsible virtue of “self-control”; avoiding inordinate excesses?

Are my personal relationships going well? Am I faithful to my church commitments? Do I spend the right amount of time with my key relationships? Do I participate in a bi-weekly or monthly small group which is supportive and life-giving? Is my work and service relationships in a good place, and in a consistent balance?  Am I free from frequent negative or sinful communication with others? Am I wise in choosing good friends who are supportive of me in my way of life?

Am I willing to do the necessary study, using all the contemporary technologies at hand, which will joyfully and peacefully assist my personal growth, and demonstrate a generous service and cooperation with others?

Am I avoiding spiritual narcissism (excessive preoccupation with spiritual matters) by concentrating on good solid communication at work, in my professional life, service projects, and ministry?

Am I generous in serving others by sharing my faith, doing mercy work, and choosing good projects according to my gifts and talents? Am I also willing to do service which will stretch me in ways in which I feel uncomfortable when I am asked?

Again being reasonable is the key: Do I take the time for exercise, recreation, good opportunities with others? Am I responsible to take good care of my health, nutritional eating is the modern way of fasting, get the necessary rest, and take the “down time” when I need it and do I enjoy my social opportunities and vacations times?

Community and Interconnection. This consideration involves the gift and sacredness of being human. When God created me as a human he gifted me with the joy of intimacy, the happiness of sharing, and the pain of sacrificial love. These values embody the second great commandment: Love in action is the continuous discernment between truth and compassion. Speaking the truth without compassion is not love, even if I call it that. It ends up as possible violence. Acting compassionately without truth is not love, even if I call it that. It ends up as enabling, allowing others to continue their own destructive patterns. Each life situation will ask me to discern what kind of action I must take in order to do the most loving thing—and my action will not be without personal cost. When in doubt, I must err on the side of compassion. (Matthew 12: 1-8; James 2: 13 – Mercy triumphs over judgment). (Fr. Bernie Tickerhoof)

May We Pray!

Lord, I pray that you would give me the resolve and strength to design a spiritual growth plan that is a simple, flexible, concise and effective. I desire to use everything which will help me grow in Christian holiness and equip with the means to generously serve those you have brought into my life. I know Jesus, that holiness is wholeness, and I ask you with the help of the Holy Spirit to inspire me to move forward in a sincere and generous effort to become the best servant of mercy that I can be. I pray this prayer in your name, Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

 

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