Letters to Jesus (Recognizing What's Important)-10
One of the most profound but subtle flaws in the pursuit of a spiritual life is the self-satisfaction we get from our progress in it. Whatever feeds the self is a stumbling block to actual progress spiritually.
In my own life I know that I not only struggle with feelings of self-satisfaction, but that, at certain points, it actually halts me from moving on. It’s a tricky business! The fact that I am able to pray regularly makes me feel good about myself. Doing spiritual reading is like giving myself a “warm-fuzzy.” There is a powerful feeling of deficiency in my day if I miss Mass. Writing to You is time I continually look forward to; and being able to just “be” in silent sessions of centering prayer is frosting on my cake. I rejoice in all of these. I am glad that I am able to do them. They give me great feelings of self-satisfaction. So, how is it that I feel tinges of guilt about feeling so good?
The most obvious answer is that the desire to do these things is a gift of Your grace for which I should be humbly grateful – and there is nothing wrong with feeling good about that. I guess concerns in this area stem mostly from inclinations to regard both the causes and effects that play out in my spiritual journey as coming from myself. Accepting this, the next great source of wonderment is why Imight be singled out to receive such gifts. That is a mystery! Maybe these gifts are offered to many yet, at some point, the response is up to the individual. The inclination to the response is Your grace, but the actual response emanates, indeed, from the individual.
To feel that one has made a correct response and that one is pursuing it cannot help but elicit a certain sense of self-satisfaction. But You were never satisfied until You gave all. Thus, our self-satisfaction is never complete. The stage of satisfaction at which we find ourselves must be the motivation to continue on. Satisfaction is a temporary cause of temporary effects.