Faith and Spiritual Life
Faith and spiritual life – because today I would like to talk to you about it. And I have to say one thing. Perhaps the biggest surprise for a person who reflects on the Christian life, who thinks about his life of faith, is the fact that God begins the spiritual life in man, not man himself. It is not man who begins to lead a spiritual life, but God initiates it in man. How do we know about this? We know first of all from the Bible, from the Gospel, which tells us that it was God who created man, that he created him in his image and likeness, as the one who can dialogue with him, talk to him, and enter into relationships. He created him rational, and therefore created him as a man capable of creating relationships with other people, but not only with other people – with God. God made man for Himself. And this is perhaps the greatest secret of the spiritual life, it is worth remembering. God made us to be one with Himself. Man’s goal is neither to make a career nor use this world … Man’s goal is not even to start a family or any of the other beautiful, noble things that are important in our lives. The purpose of human life is love for God. Man was created for this – so man created to forge a relationship with God is not always aware of it. Mostly because he is very self-centered. When St. Augustine – a great sinner, but also a great saint of the Catholic Church, discovered that God loves him, that God is his Father, which was confirmed by Jesus, who came to Earth to tell us about it, to simply reveal this reality to us, wrote in his book, which he began at thirty, these words: “For you created us to be directed towards you, Lord.” So he discovered the truth that Christianity has been telling us for centuries: that we were not created for a different purpose, but that God created us, so that we might live with Him, with Him throughout life and all eternity. Augustine put it this way: “Man’s heart is restless until it rests in God.” It is a great truth. Sometimes when a man discovers it, he only realizes how far he has strayed from God, how far he has departed from everything that, deep in his heart, in the recesses of human existence, he has long felt. The spirituality of man is therefore no less, no more, but a relationship with God, our relationship with God, which God began in our lives because he created us and placed Himself in our heart. He Himself came into our heart, becoming human and then giving human being the Holy Spirit that dwells within us. This relationship with God, the spiritual life that God has already started in us, must first be discovered. When a man discovers them, when he feels that he is loved, when he believes in it, he will understand that he should cultivate this bond, respond to God to this love. Since God loves me and He is my beloved Father, since God really is everything to me, because in the end everything will fall, everything will pass, only God will remain, then I must respond to this bond, to this love that God has sown in human hearts, it must be sustained and nurtured. In the pages of the Gospels, Christ assured us that on his part, that is, on God’s part, the love and relationship that God has entered into with us is permanent. It will never fall. God will never stop loving us. God is our beloved Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and we were created to feel like His children. When a man discovers this, he understands that it is necessary to know this Christ as much as possible, because in Him God has revealed everything that concerns our relationship with God, this spiritual life that each of us should lead. If the relationship with God breaks down, if we forget about it, it is always our fault, because God never stops loving us, only we, sometimes through sin, sometimes through being infatuated with all everyday matters, forget about God, forget about our most essential relationship with God, with God who loves us – and that is why Jesus prayed on the cross: “Lord, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” God loves us even when man forgets Him. We can always come back to Him. Despite our ingratitude, God never stops loving us. Despite our sin, despite even the hatred on our part. Thus, the two-way relationship with God must be sustained on our part. It is always us, the weak, who break it, but good God renews it in our hearts. He still lives there. It is worth not to forget about it. That is why we keep reading the Gospel – not only to remember it, but to live this love. He loves us constantly, with full love – that is why we Redemptorists repeat our motto of the Congregation: “He is abundant redemption”. His love will never end. It is beyond what is normal, it is a supernatural, superabundant love, as Psalm 130 says. That is why it is so important to maintain our faith, hope and love, that is, lead our spiritual life, nurture it, cultivate our relationship with God, never forget about it. It’s a bit like in a marriage: you can’t just live together in one house, you can’t only work together for your own family, but we work, devote ourselves, we can even suffer humiliation, hardships, troubles, drama, disease, only because we know that we are loved and we want to love and that is why we devote ourselves to constantly develop this love. In our relationship with God, we can use God’s help because God cares about that relationship. God cares that we be friends with Him, that we love Him with our whole self, that this bond not only exists, but that it never breaks, what’s more – that it continues to develop, which is why God helps us and makes it possible with the power of the one who is present in us. The Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who accompanies us constantly. He will never run away from our heart unless we don’t want to listen to Him. When we stop listening to Him, when we become deaf, blind to this wisdom, this brightness, the light that He awakens in us, then our longing for God fades for a moment. It is He who inspires our good thoughts. In fact, if we start to think about God, if some noble and beautiful desires awake in our heart, love for another human being, selfless love, full of sacrifice, not only the one with which a boy falls in love with a girl or vice versa, but also when we feel pity for another, and what is more, we simply want to help him out of generosity – all these feelings are awakened by the Holy Spirit. This is how we know that He is in us, when such feelings awaken in us. If we allow them to exist, it means: we listen to the Holy Spirit who distributes the wisdom that is in our hearts, and this is what St. Augustine wrote: “In the depths of my soul you were, and I wandered around the world and looked for you there, clutteringly grasping the beautiful things that you created. You were with me and I was not with you. ” And it often happens in our lives that man is simply deaf to the presence of God, to the most beautiful, noble, most wonderful desires: for love. Sometimes he forgets about them, it seems that they are a fairy tale, that they are a remnant of children’s ideals, and in fact it is all the impulses of goodness that God, the Holy Spirit, who lives in us, awakens in us. And sometimes a long time passes when a person walks away from God like the prodigal son in a biblical parable. That man would discover the truth that God is looking for him, and this search is revealed precisely in these beautiful desires, in this longing for good, truth, beauty, for God, that God desires our loving response, awakening in us a desire for this selfless love, thirst for God. Only then, when we realize this, do we re-enter the path of our search for truth, the path of truth, the path of wisdom, the path of light that seems to flow in man as if it were almost his personal reflex, but in fact it is a desire God himself awakens. And then we begin to understand ourselves and get to know the true God. Bob Dylan already sang about it in the famous song that we all know: “How many roads must each of us go through in order to become a human”. A man is himself when he finds himself in a relationship with God, when he finds his deep relationship with God, when he begins, years later, sometimes after some sins, to understand that God has never stopped loving him, that He is our beloved Father. If we start to come back, if we start to cultivate our relationship with God, to cultivate this desire for God, then we start to lead a spiritual life. Spiritual life is faith, hope and love, even when we forget about it for years. I remember once someone told me the true story of a man who, a few years ago, because he is a bus driver, was supposed to take a group of young people from central Poland to Krakow for meeting with Pope Francis. He did it because it is his profession, he wanted to earn a few pennies, but it turned out that during these three days he would not be able to leave Krakow anywhere, because the roads were blocked at that time. And a little out of compulsion, he began to participate in those meetings in which young people participated, in which he listened to the Holy Father, and in his soul, for years as if not visited by God’s light, something strange began to appear: the desire for nobility, the thirst for God … All of a sudden he began to understand that what the Pope was saying in these simple words meant that he wanted it all. It was during this meeting of the three-day youth with the Pope, as well as his meeting, that he discovered how much he loves God, how he longs for Him. When he got home, he started to cry. He locked himself in his room, his wife was surprised, he locked himself in his room and cried for a good few hours. And then he felt such a great desire to talk to God, to pray so deeply that he could not stop saying the rosary, because he remembered this only prayer from his childhood. He wanted to “pray fully”. He could not get enough of this prayer. It seemed to him something wonderful, beautiful, extraordinary. And just when someone told me the story of this man, I understood how true the words of St. Augustine: “You looked for me, Lord, and I was looking for you outside – among things, beings, among all things that surround me, and you were in me. In me you awakened all the most beautiful desires, you spoke to me in me, but I was not there ”. Look inside yourself, lead a spiritual life – this is a human task. We’ll talk about how to do this in the next meeting. I cordially invite you.