In our life, every undertaking, every action, every thought, must be a reflection of Christ in our life. The Lord will grant us the strength and ability to accomplish good works and attain holiness, if we cooperate with His grace. Prayer alone is not enough if we do not reflect moral improvement. Change must take place in our heart if we are to win the battle against the ego, and this requires much work on our part.
Central to living in all holiness of life is the acquisition of a humble and contrite heart. Humility does not come without contrition, and both are obtained with much suffering and trial. Spiritual reading, together with prayer, are necessary components of this journey to God, but must be accompanied by spiritual direction, confession, and the acceptance of correction.
If we are so proud and puffed up that we swiftly take on the role of defense attorney when confronted with correction or the critique of another, we will simply fall further under the control of the ego, and humility will remain alien to our makeup. Often the critical observations of others, which we’d like to fend off, can become a tool for regeneration, for such corrections, even if offered by someone with ill intent, can be occasions for tremendous spiritual progress.
I am reminded of my late spiritual father, Archimandrite Dimitry of Santa Rosa. He was slandered by a local priest in a very public setting. When informed, the Elder Dimitry stood up from his desk, walked across the room, and began winding a wall clock. Asked why he seemingly cared little that he’d been so falsely and viciously slandered, his only response was to say, “Many sins have been forgiven because of this.”
Making spiritual progress is never easy and must be accompanied by much effort on our part. It can come only through humility, which means that we can expect to be humiliated. If we do not flee from suffering and humiliation, but learn to accept it for our salvation, holiness can be ours, and our life will truly reflect the words of St. Paul, who said, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).”
With love in Christ,