Yesterday I was in a hospital, following the case of a friend. His doctor couldn't understand why he had fevers, going up and down. After trying antibiotics for 10 days, thinking of an infection, seeing that the fever is still there the doctor deduced it can be that. He then had a guess, and ordered a Scan. The scan revealed a stone between the kidney and the bladder. The stone measured exactly 5,5 mm. We know now exactly where it is and what was happening. Quite urgently my friend will have to go through a surgery to extract that calculus, avoiding possible complications.
We know as well that the development of Neuroscience (and many other sciences) boomed these last 20 years because of the development of new generations of scanning machines (the fMRI).
Few years ago (without these machines) we wouldn't have been able to diagnose (at least so rapidly) many diseases.
What is a scanning machine? It is a machine, that allows us to delve in the human body, and see, with greater detail and precision, what the naked eye can't see.
Well that fact made me think a lot about Spiritual Theology. All what it addresses, is directly non-visible: the soul (mind and will, memory, imagination, inner senses) and the spirit (the upper part of the soul). The "Master in Spiritual Life" is like a Doctor : he needs to diagnose the state of the person he sees. And in order to diagnose, he needs to see inside.
Only few saints had that special gift of seeing in the heart. Would this mean only very few people can offer Spiritual Direction? Only few people can teach Spiritual Theology? “a blind man cannot guide another blind one, they will both fall” (Luke 6:39) says Jesus.
Without these "scanning machines" and "powerful analysis means" they have today available Doctors were sort of “blind”. They had to use other means in order to “see” (in fact: “guess” or “deduce by more visible symptoms" and "gathering knowledge fro the greatest number of cases”).
How does a human being access his own soul and the soul of the others? The same for the spirit (this highest part of the soul that enters in the direct contact with God, and is, by definition, super-conscious) how can we access it?
For sure one cannot dismiss the help of the Holy Spirit in order to help the Spiritual Master, to remind him, to open his eyes, in order to “see” what is happening. But the Holy Spirit doesn't work in a miraculous magical way. He supposes the presence of our effort, that is: our correspondence to the Grace of our state and call: our study, our experience and our discernment received through spiritual direction.
Do you see what I mean? In order to build, in the “Spiritual Master”, these eyes that will help him/her see what is happening in this mysterious, mystical, world of "spiritual life", the Holy Spirit is asking him to do three things, to grow in the practice of them, and to excel in them:
1- experience: delving in the experience of God, and not just reading or studying. And growing in the experience of God.
2- science: learning about the experience of God by reading, studying, and receiving the grace of understanding what he/she reads and the grace of recognising (connecting what he reads/knows with what he experiences). And on top of all that, studying and doing research in that area.
3- discernment: becoming first a disciple, seeking “spiritual direction”; receiving the needed discernment. Humility is necessary, and listening to God who speaks, teaches and corrects through the spiritual director.
As we see, this is a combined effort, not just a Grace given from Above. This combined effort between the Holy Spirit and the person called to that service, for years, will end up by building "new eyes" that will help him recognise, see, analyse and measure what is happening in the soul of his brothers and sisters.
So we have the call, received, to follow the steps of the “spiritual masters”, starting to go down in humility, experience, science, recognition, discernment, growing in all these elements, for years. This will generate like new eyes. The eyes of the Guide.
This requires an effort. Studying requires an effort. Holiness requires an effort. This is how the salt remains salty (see Mt 5).