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 Living a Spiritual Life

Many of us, at one time or another has thought of living a spiritual life. And to live a spiritual life is to live in the presence of God. A spiritual life is the life of the Holy Spirit of God within us. But how do we go about living a spiritual life? It seems that to achieve it, the minimum we need to have are:

1.     A goal and

2.     A disciplined life.

 

1. A Goal.

St Paul says: “Do you not realize that, though all the runners in the stadium take part in the race, only one of them gets the prize? Run like that---to win. Every athlete concentrates completely on training, and this to win a wreath that will wither, whereas ours will never wither. So that is how I run, not without a clear goal; and how I box, not wasting blows on air. I punish my body and bring it under control, to avoid any risk that, having acted as herald for others, I myself may be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NJB)

Just like the Olympics athletes trained with single-minded dedication and vigorous discipline to win a gold medal, we need the same dedication and discipline to win our prize. And what is our prize? It is the divine life, the eternal life, the life with God and in God. When our clear goal is the eternal life, that life can be reached in the present moment, where we are, because eternal life is life in and with God, and God is where we are here and now. When our heart understands this divine truth, we are, then, living the spiritual life. It is a life in which we are being transformed by the Spirit of God’s love.

 

2. A Disciplined Life

It is impossible to lead a spiritual life without discipline. Discipline asks us to set aside a time and place for God and God alone. It asks us to create a space for God in our lives. To live a spiritual life, we must cultivate the disciplines of:

a. Spiritual Reading

b. Solitude and

c. Prayer

The practice of a spiritual discipline makes us more sensitive to the small, gentle voice of God. And through the practice of a spiritual discipline we become attentive to that small voice and become more willing to respond to it when we hear it.

We should, however, note that the beginning of our spiritual life is often difficult because the presence of God’s Spirit seems barely noticeable. But, if we are faithful to our above disciplines, a new hunger will make itself known. This new hunger is the first sign of God’s presence. When we remain attentive to this divine presence, we will be led deeper into the spiritual life.

     Henri Nouwen advises that, “To live a spiritual life does not mean that we must leave our families, give up our jobs, or change our ways of working; it does not mean that we have to withdraw from social or political activities, or lose interest in literature and arts; it does not require severe forms of asceticism or long hours of prayer. Changes such as these may in fact grow out of our spiritual life, and for some people radical decisions may be necessary. But the spiritual life can be lived in as many ways as there are people. What is new is that we have moved from the many things to the Kingdom of God. What is new is that we are set free from the compulsions of our world and have set our hearts on the only necessary thing. What is new is that we no longer experience the many things, people, and events as endless causes for worry, but begin to experience them as the rich variety of ways in which God makes His presence known to us.

     Indeed, living a spiritual life requires a change of heart, a conversion. Such a conversion may be marked by a sudden inner change, or it can take place through a long, quiet process of transformation. But it always involves an inner experience of oneness. We realise that we are in the centre, and that from there all that is and all that takes place can be seen and understood as part of the mystery of God’s life with us. Our conflicts and pains, our tasks and promises, our families and friends, our activities and projects, our hope and aspirations, no longer appear to us as a fatiguing variety of things which we can barely keep together, but rather as affirmations and revelations of the new life of the Spirit in us. “All these other things,” which so occupied and preoccupied us, now come as gifts or challenges that strengthen and deepen the new life which we have discovered. This does not mean that the spiritual life makes things easier or takes our struggles and pains away. The lives of Jesus’ disciples clearly show that suffering does not diminish because of conversion. Sometimes it even becomes more intense. But our attention is no longer directed to the “more or less.” What matters is to listen attentively to the Spirit and to go obediently where we are being led, whether to a joyful or a painful place.

     Poverty, pain, struggle, anguish, agony, and even inner darkness may continue to be part of our experience. They may even be God’s way of purifying us. But life is no longer boring, resentful, depressing, or lonely because we have come to know that everything that happens is part of our way to the house of the Father.”(Making All Things New, 58-59)

 

a. Spiritual Reading

In our spiritual reading we need to constantly pause and reflect and to keep asking ourselves: “What does it all mean? What is God trying to tell us? How am I called to live in the midst of all this? How does God speak to me here and call me to a more generous love?” 

Father Henri Nouwen says, “An important discipline in the life of the Spirit is spiritual reading. Through spiritual reading we have some say over what enters into our minds. Each day our society bombards us with a myriad of images and sounds. Driving down Yonge Street in downtown Toronto is like driving through a dictionary: each word demanding our attention in all sorts of sizes and colors and with all sorts of gestures and noises. The words yell and scream at us: “Eat me, drink me, buy me, hire me, look at me, talk with me, sleep with me”! Whether we ask for it or not is not the question; we simply cannot go far without being engulfed by words and images forcibly intruding themselves into our minds.

But do we really want our mind to become the garbage can of the world? Do we want our mind to be filled with things that confuse us, excite us, depress us, arouse us, repulse us, or attract us whether we think it is good for us or not? Do we want to let others decide what enters into our mind and determines our thoughts and feelings?

Clearly we do not, but it requires real discipline to let God and not the world be the Lord of our mind. But that asks of us not just to be gentle as doves, but also cunning as serpents! Therefore spiritual reading is such a helpful discipline. Is there a book we are presently reading, a book that we have selected because it nurtures our mind and brings us closer to God? Our thoughts and feelings would be deeply affected if we were always to carry with us a book that puts our minds again and again in the direction we want to go. There are so many good books about the lives of holy men and women, about remarkable examples of peace-making, about communities that bring life to the poor and the oppressed, and about the spiritual life itself. Even if we were to read for only fifteen minutes a day in such a book, we would soon find our mind becoming less of a garbage can and more of a vase filled with good thoughts.

Spiritual reading is not only reading about spiritual people or spiritual things. It is also reading spiritually, that is, in a spiritual way! Reading in a spiritual way is reading with a desire to let God come closer to us.

Most of us read to acquire knowledge or to satisfy our curiosity. When we want to know how to repair a car, cook a meal, build a house, help a handicapped person, give a lecture, etc., we have to do a certain amount of reading. When we want to keep informed about world news, sports news, entertainment news, and society news, we must turn to different newspapers and magazines. The purpose of spiritual reading, however, is not to master knowledge or information, but to let God’s Spirit master us. Strange as it may sound, spiritual reading means to let ourselves be read by God! We can read the story of Jesus’ birth with curiosity and ask ourselves, “Did this really happen? Who put this story together and how?” But we can also read that same story with spiritual attentiveness and wonder: “How does God speak to me here and call me to a more generous love?” We can read the daily news simply to have something to talk about at work. But we can also read it to become more aware of the reality of a world that needs God’s words and saving actions.

The issue is not just what we read, but how we read it. Spiritual reading is reading with an inner attentiveness to the movement of God’s Spirit in our outer and inner lives. With that attentiveness, we will allow God to read us and to explain to us what we are truly about.” (Here and Now, 70-72)

 

b. Solitude

            When we decide to stay in solitude, confusing ideas, disturbing images, wild fantasies, and weird associations start jumping about in our minds like monkey on a banana tree. Once we start spending time alone, we discover how chaotic our minds are. We start thinking about thousands of other things---what we should do, whom we are mad at. We will soon find that solitude is not immediately satisfying, because in solitude we meet our demons, our addictions, our feelings of lust and anger, and our immense need for recognition and approval. When these thoughts come up, gently return to the center. The task is to persevere in our solitude, to stay in our cell until all our seductive visitors get tired of pounding on our door and leave us alone. If we do not run away, we will also meet there the One who says, “Do not be afraid. I am with you, and I will guide you through the valley of darkness.”   Solitude is a way to get a little control over our inner life. And it’s not easy.

Henri Nouwen says: “In solitude, we meet God. In solitude, we leave behind our many activities, concerns, plans and projects, opinions and convictions, and enter into the presence of our living God, naked, vulnerable, open and receptive. And there we see that He alone is God, that He alone is care, that He alone is forgivingness. . . .I am not saying this to suggest that there is an easy solution to our ambivalent relationship with God. Solitude is not a solution. It is a direction.” (Clowning in Rome, 28)

 

Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life. Solitude begins with a time and place for God, and Him alone. If we really believe not only that God exists but also that He is actively present in our lives---healing, teaching, and guiding---we need to set aside a time and space to give Him our undivided attention. Jesus says, ‘Go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place.’ (Matthew 6:6)

     To bring some solitude into our lives is one of the most necessary but also most difficult disciplines. Even though we may have a deep desire for real solitude, we also experience a certain apprehension as we approach that solitary place and time. As soon as we are alone, without people to talk with, books to read, TV to watch, or phone calls to make, an inner chaos opens up in us. This chaos can be so disturbing and so confusing that we can hardly wait to get busy again. Entering a private room and shutting the door, therefore, does not mean that we immediately shut out all our inner doubts, anxieties, fears, bad memories, unresolved conflicts, angry feelings, and impulsive desires. On the contrary, when we have removed our outer distractions, we often find that our inner distractions manifest themselves to us in full force. We often use the outer distractions to shield ourselves from the interior noises. It is thus not surprising that we have a difficult time being alone. The confrontation with our inner conflicts can be too painful for us to endure.

     This makes the discipline of solitude all the more important. Solitude is not a spontaneous response to an occupied and preoccupied life. There are so many reasons not to be alone. Therefore we must begin by carefully planning some solitude. Five or ten minutes a day may be all we can tolerate. Perhaps we are ready for an hour every day, an afternoon every week, a day every month, or a week every year. The amount of time will vary for each person according to temperament, age, job, lifestyle, and maturity. But we do not take the spiritual life seriously if we do not set aside some time to be with God and listen to Him. We may have to write it in black and white in our daily calendar so that nobody else can take away this period of time. Then we will be able to say to our friends, neighbours, students, customers, clients, or patients, ‘I’m sorry, but I’ve already made an appointment at that time and it can’t be changed.’

     Once we have committed ourselves to spending time in solitude, we develop an attentiveness to God’s voice in us. In the beginning, during the first few days, weeks, or even months, we may have the feeling that we are simply wasting our time. Time in solitude may at first seem little more than a time in which we are bombarded by thousands of thoughts and feelings that emerge from hidden areas of our mind. One of the early Christian writers describes the first stage of solitary prayer as the experience of a man who, after years of living with open doors, suddenly decides to shut them. The visitors who used to come and enter his home start pounding on his doors, wondering why they are not allowed to enter. Only when they realise that they are not welcome do they gradually stop coming. This is the experience of anyone who decides to enter into solitude after a life without much spiritual discipline. At first, the many distractions keep presenting themselves. Later, as they receive less and less attention, they slowly withdraw.

     It is clear that what matters is faithfulness to the discipline. In the beginning, solitude seems so contrary to our desires that we are constantly tempted to run away from it. One way of running away is daydreaming or simply falling asleep. But when we stick to our discipline, in the conviction that God is with us even when we do not yet hear Him, we slowly discover that we do not want to miss our time alone with God. Although we do not experience much satisfaction in our solitude, we realise that a day without solitude is less “spiritual” than a day with it.

     Intuitively, we know that it is important to spend time in solitude. We even start looking forward to this strange period of uselessness. This desire for solitude is often the first sign of prayer, the first indication that the presence of God’s Spirit no longer remains unnoticed. As we empty ourselves of our many worries, we come to know not only with our mind but also with our heart that we never were really alone, that God’s Spirit is with us all along. Thus we come to understand what Paul writes to the Romans, ‘Sufferings bring patience. . . and patience brings perseverance, and perseverance brings hope, and this hope is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.’ (Romans 5:4-6) In solitude, we come to know the Spirit who has already been given to us. The pains and struggles we encounter in our solitude thus become the way to hope, because our hope is not based on something that will happen after our sufferings are over, but on the real presence of God’s healing Spirit in the midst of these sufferings. The discipline of solitude allows us gradually to come in touch with this hopeful presence of God in our lives, and allows us also to taste even now the beginnings of the joy and peace which belong to the new heaven and the new earth.

     The discipline of solitude, as I have described it here, is one of the most powerful disciplines in developing a prayerful life. It is a simple, though not easy, way to free us from the slavery of our occupations and preoccupations and to begin to hear the voice that makes all things new.

     Let me give a more concrete description of how the discipline of solitude may be practiced. It is a great advantage to have a room or a corner of a room---or a large closet!---reserved for the discipline of solitude. Such a “ready” place helps us set our hearts on the Kingdom without time-consuming preparations. Some people like to decorate such a place with an icon, a candle, or a simple plant. But the important thing is that the place of solitude remains a simple, uncluttered place. There we dwell in the presence of the Lord. Our temptation is to do something useful: to read something stimulating, to think about something interesting, or to experience something unusual. But our moment of solitude is precisely a moment in which we want to be in the presence of our Lord with empty hands, naked, vulnerable, useless, without much to show, prove, or defend. That is how we slowly learn to listen to God’s small voice. But what to do with our many distractions? Should we fight these distractions and hope that thus we will become more attentive to God’s voice? This does not seem the way to come to prayer. Creating an empty space where we can listen to God’s Spirit is not easy when we are putting all out energy into fighting distractions. By fighting distractions in such a direct way, we end up paying more attention to them than they deserve. We have, however, the words of Scripture to which to pay attention. A psalms, a parable, a biblical story, a saying of Jesus, or a word of Paul, Peter, James, Jude, or John can help us to focus our attention on God’s presence. Thus we deprive those “many other things” of their power over us. When we place words from the Scriptures in the center of our solitude, such words---whether a short expression, a few sentences, or a longer text---can function as the point to which we return when we have wandered off in different directions. They form a safe anchoring place in a stormy sea. At the end of such period of quiet dwelling with God we may, through intercessory prayer, lead all the people who are part of our lives, friends as well as enemies, into His healing presence. And why not conclude with the words that Jesus Himself taught us: the Our Father?

     This is only one specific form in which the discipline of solitude may be practiced. Endless variations are possible. Walks in nature, the repetition of short prayers such as the Jesus prayer, simple forms of chanting, certain movements or postures---these and many other elements can become a helpful part of the discipline of solitude. But we have to decide which particular form of this discipline best fits us, to which we can remain faithful. It is better to have a daily practice of ten minutes solitude than to have a whole hour once in a while. It is better to become familiar with one pasture than to keep experimenting with different ones. Simplicity and regularity are the best guides in finding our way. They allow us to make the discipline of solitude as much part of our daily lives as eating and sleeping. When that happens, our noisy worries will slowly lose their power over us and the renewing activity of God’s Spirit will slowly make its presence known.

     Although the discipline of solitude asks us to set aside time and space, what finally matters is that our hearts become like quiet cells where God can dwell, wherever we go and whatever we do. The more we train ourselves to spend time with God and Him alone, the more we will discover that God is with us at all times and in all places. Then we will be able to recognise Him even in the midst of a busy and active life. Once the solitude of time and space has become a solitude of the heart, we will never have to leave that solitude. We will be able to live the spiritual life in any place and any time. Thus the discipline of solitude enables us to live active lives in the world, while remaining always in the presence of the living God.” (Making all things New, 69-80)

 

Mother Teresa says:

 “We too are called to withdraw at certain intervals into deeper silence and aloneness with God, together as a community as well as personally, to be alone with him, not with our books, thoughts, and memories but completely stripped of everything, to dwell lovingly in his presence: silent, empty, expectant, and motionless.” (A Life for God, 23)

 “Silence gives us a new outlook on everything. We need silence to be able to touch souls. The essential thing is not what we say but what God says to us and through us. Jesus is always waiting for us in silence. In that silence, he will listen to us, there he will speak to our soul, and there we will hear his voice.” (A Life for God, 22)

“The interior silence is very difficult, but we must make the effort to pray. In silence we will find new energy and true unity. The energy of God will be ours to do all things well, and so will the unity of our thoughts with his thoughts, the unity of our prayers with his prayers, the unity of our actions with his actions, of our life with his life. All our words will be useless unless they come from within. Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.” (A Life for God, 22)

“Silence of the tongue will teach us so much: to speak to Christ, to be joyful at recreation, and to have many things to say. At recreation Christ speaks to us through others and at meditation he speaks to us directly. Silence also makes us so much more Christ-like because he had a special love for this virtue.” (A Life for God, 24)

    

c. Prayer

       It is impossible to live a spiritual life without the discipline of prayer. As prayer is the food of spiritual life, neglect of prayer starves the spiritual life. Mother Teresa says: “Does your mind and your heart go to Jesus as soon as you get up in the morning? This is prayer, that you turn your mind and heart to God. In your times of difficulties, in sorrows, in sufferings, in temptations, and in all things, where did your mind and heart turn first of all? How did you pray? Did you take the trouble to turn to Jesus and pray, or did you seek other consolations?

Has your faith grown? If you do not pray, your faith will leave you. All those priests and religious, who left, first stopped praying and then lacked faith to go on.

Ask the Holy Spirit to pray in you. Learn to pray, love to pray, and pray often. Feel the need to pray and to want to pray.

If you have learned how to pray, then I am not afraid for you. If you know how to pray, then you will love prayer—--and if you love to pray, then you will pray. Knowledge will lead to love and love to service.” (Contemplative at the Heart of the World, 95)

“It is difficult to pray if you don’t know how to pray, but we must help ourselves to pray. The first means to use is silence. We cannot put ourselves directly in the presence of God if we do not practice internal and external silence. Therefore we shall take as a special point silence of mind, eyes, and tongue.” (A Life for God, 21)

“Where can I learn to pray? Jesus taught us: “Pray like this: Our Father.... Thy will be done.... Forgive us as we forgive.” It is so simple yet so beautiful. If we pray the “Our Father” and live it, we will be holy. Everything is there: God, myself, my neighbor. If I forgive, then I can be holy and can pray... All this comes from a humble heart, and if we have this we will know how to love God, to love self and neighbor.

This is not complicated, and yet we complicate our lives so much, by so many additions. Just one thing counts: to be humble, to pray. The more you pray, the better you will pray. How do you pray? You should go to God like a little child. A child has no difficulty expressing his little mind in simple words which say so much. Jesus said to Nicodemus: ‘Become as a little child.’ If we pray the gospel, we will allow Christ to grow in us.” (Contemplative at the Heart of the World, 96)

“See how Jesus taught his disciples to pray: Call God your Father, praise and glorify his name; do his will as the saints do it in heaven; ask for daily bread, spiritual and temporal; ask for forgiveness of your own sins and for the grace to forgive others; ask for the grace to resist temptations and for the final grace to be delivered from the evil which is in you and around you.” (A Life for God, 20)

“Pray. Ask for the necessary grace. Pray to be able to understand how much Jesus loves us, so that you can love others. And pray for the sisters, that we won’t spoil God’s work. Pray that we allow Jesus to use each of us as he wishes and wherever he wishes.” (A Life for God 21)

“If we are careful of silence it will be easy to pray and to pray fervently. There is so much talk, so much repetition, so much carrying of tales in words and in writing. Our prayer life suffers so much because our hearts are not silent.” (A Life for God, 26)

“Jesus Christ has told us that we ought “always to pray and not to faint.” St. Paul says, “pray without ceasing.” God calls all men and women to this disposition of heart—--to pray always. Let the love of God once take entire and absolute possession of a heart; let it become to that heart like a second nature; let that heart suffer nothing contrary to enter: let it apply itself continually to increase this love of God by seeking to please Him in all things and refusing Him nothing; let it accept as from His hand everything that happens to it; let it have a firm determination never to commit any fault deliberately and knowingly or, if it should fail, to be humbled and to rise up again at once, and such a heart will pray continually.” (Contemplative at the Heart of the World, 95)

“Have I really learned to pray the work? Maybe I have never learned to pray the work because the whole time my mind is “work.” Here are words that will help you: “With Jesus, for Jesus, to Jesus.” If you want to know how much you love Jesus, there is no need to ask anybody to tell you. In the sincerity of your heart you will know, if you practice silence.” (Contemplative at the Heart of the World, 113)

“We must join our prayer with work. We try to bring this across to our sisters by inviting them to make their work a prayer. How is it possible to change one’s work into a prayer? Work cannot be substituted for prayer. Nevertheless, we can learn to make work a prayer. How can we do this? By doing our work with Jesus and for Jesus. That is the way to make our work a prayer. It is possible that I may not be able to keep my attention fully on God while I work, but God doesn’t demand that I do so. Yet I can fully desire and intend that my work be done with Jesus and for Jesus. This is beautiful and that is what God wants. He wants our will and our desire to be for him, for our family, for our children, for our brethren, and for the poor.” (A Life for God, 12)

“Our prayers are mostly vocal prayers; they should be burning words coming forth from the furnace of a heart filled with love. In these prayers, speak to God with great reverence and confidence.... Do not drag or run ahead; do not shout or keep silent but devoutly, with great sweetness, with natural simplicity, without any affectation, offer your praise to God with the whole of your heart and soul. We must know the meaning of the prayers we say and feel the sweetness of each word to make these prayers of great profit; we must sometimes meditate on them and often during the day find our rest in them.” (A Life for God, 14)

“The prayer that comes from the mind and heart and which we do not read in books is called mental prayer. We must never forget that we are bound by our state to tend toward perfection and to aim ceaselessly at it. The practice of daily mental prayer is necessary to reach our goal. Because it is the breath of life to our soul, holiness is impossible without it. St. Teresa of Avila says, ‘She who gives up mental prayer does not require the devil to push her into hell; she goes there of her own accord.’ It is only by mental prayer and spiritual reading that we can cultivate the gift of prayer. Mental prayer is greatly fostered by simplicity—--that is, forgetfulness of self by mortifications of the body and of our senses, and by frequent aspirations which feed our prayer. ‘In mental prayer,’ says St. John Vianney, ‘shut your eyes, shut your mouth, and open your heart.’ In vocal prayer we speak to God, in mental prayer he speaks to us. It is then that God pours himself into us.” (A Life for God, 14)

“Perfect prayer does not consist in many words but in the fervor of the desire which raised the heart to Jesus. Jesus has chosen us to be souls of prayer. The value of our actions corresponds exactly to the value of the prayer we make, and our actions are fruitful only if they are the true expression of earnest prayer. We must fix our gaze on Jesus, and if we work together with Jesus we will do much better. We get anxious and restless because we try to work alone, without Jesus.” (A Life for God, 13)

“We want so much to pray properly and then we fail. We get discouraged and give up prayer. God allows the failure but he does not want the discouragement. He wants us to be more childlike, more humble, more grateful in prayer, and not to try to pray alone, as we all belong to the mystical body of Christ, which is praying always. There is always prayer; there is no such thing as “I pray,” but Jesus in me and Jesus with me prays; therefore the body of Christ prays.” (A Life for God, 14)

“If you find it difficult to pray, ask him again and again, ‘Jesus, come into my heart pray in me and with me, that I may learn from thee how to pray.’ If you pray more you will pray better. Take the help of all your senses to pray.” (A Life for God, 15)

“If we neglect prayer and if the branch is not connected with the vine, it will die. That connecting of the branch to the vine is prayer. If that connection is there then love is there, then joy is there, and we will be the sunshine of God’s love, the hope of eternal happiness, the flame of burning love. Why? Because we are one with Jesus. If you sincerely want to learn to pray: keep silence.” (A Life for God, 31)

“If you don’t pray, your presence will have no power, your words will have no power. If you pray, you will be able to overcome all the tricks of the devil. Don’t believe all the thoughts that he puts into your mind.” (A Life for God, 19)

“Love to pray, feel the need to pray often during the day, and take the trouble to pray. If you want to pray better, you must pray more. Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of himself: Ask and seek, and your heart will grow big enough to receive him and keep him as your own.” (A Life for God, 13)

“To pray generously is not enough; we must pray devoutly, with fervor and piety. We must pray perseveringly and with great love.” (A Life for God, 14)

“Regarding purity, Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God’ (Matthew 5:8). If our hearts are filled with uncharitableness and jealousy, we cannot see God. I can spend hours in church, but I will not see God if my heart is not pure. That is why we need silence. In the silence and purity of the heart God speaks.” (A Life for God, 25)

“We could rattle off many things, and learn many things by heart, and know all possible knowledge, and all of theology and all the things about God, but we would not be able to light that fire in the hearts of the people. We are just uttering words, not living those words. That is why it is necessary for us that our words be the fruit of our life, the fruit of our prayers, the fruit of our penance, and the fruit of our adoration.” (A Life for God, 28)

“If we take Jesus at his word, all of us are contemplatives in the heart of the world, for if we have faith, we are continually in his presence. We need a life of prayer to have this kind of faith. We need to worship God and have a spirit of sacrifice. We need to spiritually feed ourselves on him constantly.” (A Life for God, 28)

“Sacrifice and prayer complement each other. There is no prayer without sacrifice, and there is no sacrifice without prayer. That is what Jesus has shown us. Jesus’ life was spent in intimate union with his Father as he passed through this world doing good. We need to do the same. Let’s walk by his side. We need to give Christ a chance to make use of us to be his word and his work—--to share his food and his clothing in the world today. If we do not radiate the light of Christ around us, the sense of the darkness that prevails in the world will increase. The people around us should be able to recognize him by our union with God.” (A Life for God, 30)

 “If we want to be able to love, we must pray! Prayer will give us a clean heart, and a clean heart can see God. If we see God, immediately God’s love works in us. And we need to love not with words, but with deeds!” (A Life for God, 16)

 

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