I have been crucified with Christ
The spiritual journey is not a career or a success story. It is a series of humiliations of the false self that become more and more profound. These make room inside us for the Holy Spirit to come in and heal. What prevents us from being available to God is gradually evacuated. We keep getting close and closer to our center. Every now and then God lifts a corner of the veil and enters into our awareness through various channels, as if to say, “Here I am. Where are you? Come and join me.”
In the Near East, centuries ago successive cultures built new cities on top of the last ones. For some reason, people didn’t bother using new space; they just burned down what was there when they defeated an enemy and built something new. The ruins of these ancient cities built one on top of the other are called “tells.” The spiritual journey is like an archaeological dig through the various stages of our lives, from where we are now back through the midlife crisis, adult life, adolescence, puberty, early childhood, infancy. What happens if we allow that archaeological dig to continue? We feel that we are getting worse. But we are really not getting worse; we are just finding out how bad off we always were. That is an enormous grace.
From a vertical point of view, our conversion begins at the place we are now in our relationship to God. First we clear off the brush, stones, and debris at the top of our interior “tell.” Our agreement with the divine therapist is to allow the Holy Spirit to bring us to the truth about ourselves. This initial period of conversion corresponds to the springtime of the spiritual life, when prayer is easy, and we have great energy in pursuing practices of self-denial, various forms of prayer, ministry, and other forms of social service. As we begin to trust God more, we enjoy a certain freedom from our vices and may often experience great satisfaction in our spiritual endeavors.
— Thomas Keating in The Human Condition
It is my sense that Fr. Keating is describing a process within our faith that is not too popular these days: The Way of the Cross. And yet this “Way” (Jesus said ‘I AM the Way’) is the actual, measurable proof of Christ’s death and resurrection. As Christ died and rose from the dead, so we do each time we allow the Holy Spirit to crucify our humanity. It’s often a painful process, but alas….after the death comes the resurrection…and there is so much life in it. So much joy! Today, ask the Holy Spirit to show you what needs to be crucified in your flesh. Go ahead. Be brave. She will show you and by God’s grace you can be crucified with Christ and experience his resurrection, not only in the after life, but right now, today.
Love in Christ,
The writings of Fr. Thomas Keating are taken from Spirituality and Practice. The reflections are my own.
M.Rev. Ed Jansen is the Bishop of the Diocese of St. Benedict and Rev. Dr. Trish Gaffney is its Vicar General
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