What is the point of “knowing the stages of spiritual life”?
The knowledge of the stages of the action of the grace of God is fundamental for our life. It gives us a better idea of:
- what God wants to realise in us,
- the abundance of the Graces He wants to give us
- what we are supposed to do in order to receive all these graces
- the richness of the Synergy He wants to have with us
* Synergy: is a Theological expression, which comes from the Greek Fathers. It belongs to the Theology of the Holy Spirit, or the Theology of Grace. Synergy is the common, combined action of God and us, united. In this action God is always the first one, who calls, who initiates. He is the one that accompanies us during the action. He is the one that helps accomplish, realise, and give its perfection to our action. The action comes from Him and goes back to Him, glorifying him. When it goes back to Him, it goes back Him & us, us & Him.
- In front of such knowledge we remain in awe, grateful to God, to Who He is, to all His Goodness.
- In the beginning, this knowledge is only in a “form of science”, not yet an “experience of God”. If, step by step, it is not put into practice, this knowledge can turn against us and condemn us saying: “you knew it, why didn't you put it into practice?” This is true.
- But in the same time we cannot choose between “knowing” and “not knowing”. It is the duty of each Christian to “seek the Truth”, in order to conform his life to it (putting it into practice). It is as well a sin not to seek the Truth. Jesus came to reveal to us not only the life of God, the Trinity, but to lead us to this life, showing the Way that leads to it, and the stages of such journey.
- Such knowledge is a place for new discoveries of what the Lord prepared for us. By it, we get to know better the content of the Revelation. These discoveries are a great source for graces in our life.
- The benefits of such graces are that they push us, they encourage us to dig deeper, to have a greater understanding of our life and of what it is worth. They build/shape our “act of hope”: they show us where God wants us to go, what He wants to realise in our life. Without the “act of hope” our life is emptied from its contents.
- We can't afford to remain ignorant of that specific knowledge and the Power it brings with it, in setting upright our Hope. If one doesn't know which door to knock at, how will he/she obtain all the graces that are enclosed behind the right door? This knowledge is vital for triggering the journey of our growth. It is necessary to help us reach the fullness of the height of Jesus (see Ephesians 4:13), i.e. the fullness of our salvation.
- Each stage and level is in fact the result of a deeper purification, and therefore brings a deeper and greater level of the Action of the Grace of God in the area that it freed/purified. Of course the Holy Spirit needs to reach the roots of our being in order really to “possess” the human being and really act with greater synergy/freedom in/with him. Until then, one cannot be totally “in the Hands of God”. Knowing all that is very important in order to prepare ourselves to receive all these graces, and to remind ourselves each day of them. It makes us accountable to them. This knowledge forms our conscience and helps us make the exam of conscience. As we see: who says “conscience”, says “exam of conscience”.
A better understanding of Jesus' Action
Let us now continue to deepen our understanding of the direct, inner, mystical Action that the Holy Spirit has in us in each stage of the Life of Jesus. Jesus wants to be our Way, this means that He opens the way for us, in order to come back to the Father, step by step, until we reach the Union with Him and the Father. Each step of His life has a meaning for us, belongs to us and is a teaching and purification.
In the diagram below one can see the little arrows that go from Jesus' life to us. So the “descent” of Jesus is really a descent in us, and a purification action in us, that goes deeper and deeper in us, until He reaches the “bottom of our being”.
|4- Jesus' descent in us, out of Love|
As we see, we have to descending arrows, one in red (Jesus' one) and one in blue (our one). From each stage of Jesus' life, we have arrows that go from Jesus to us. The redemptive, transformative action of each act in Jesus' life brings graces to us. The grace, the influence of Jesus on us is symbolised by the little arrows we see going from the red descending line, to the blue one. The purification Jesus is performing is each stage of His life is seen this way:
1- The first main stage of the purification Jesus performs in us starts with the beginning of His Ministry.
Christ purifies our body, our senses and our attachment to earthly things. Remember: this phase starts with his Call to the first disciples and therefore they leave everything (as it is stated in the Gospel) and follow Him. They leave their dear ones, their work, their ambitions, their dreams. They found the Messiah, therefore, they found everything in Him. They will follow Him for three years, they will be healed by Him, and receive His teachings. They will receive as well the power to heal and preach.
2- The second stage of their purification is when Jesus, after rooting them in Him, starts to predict for the first time his Passion and Death. The “end” of His Life, doesn't look anymore positive. Definitely, he is not an earthly Messiah. Things start not to work in a human way, according to the human view of Jesus follower. It is not all positive, successful, magic and easy. Jesus starts to show a different way, it is like a junction on the way. Jesus starts to go deeper in his formation and purification of his apostles. He purifies their emotions, their heart. He teaches them to love not out of the goodness of the person they love, but out of the Goodness enclosed in God. Instead of just establishing a human reign, Jesus starts to head, with determination, toward Jerusalem, and toward His supreme Sacrifice.
3- The third stage of the purification of the Apostles is when Jesus enters his Passion, with His Last Supper when he offers his Body and Blood to his disciples. He starts to get sad, knowing he is facing his Passion and Death, having to carry all our sins, having to drink the cup of our sins and of our darkness. Knowing that he has to undergo all the suffering, the unjust treatment, for our sake. Jesus starts to enter with his human nature deeper in Our Soul. He carries our darkness, like a sponge he sucks all our being, grabbing us in His Hands, in order to bring us to the Father.
He purifies our Soul, absorbing in Him our darkness, the distance between us and God.
4- The Fourth and last part of Jesus' purification that He performs on us, is to reach the Cross, and be crucified for 6 hours. 3 with the Sun, and 3 without sun. That shows the degree of darkness he was in. In this vital great moment of salvation, Jesus is totally absorbing us in His Being, becoming us, out of Love, i.e. by the Action of the Holy Spirit.
(to be continued...)