I have mentioned many times that the human body either does one of two things, atrophies, or grows. There is no such thing as coasting with our bodies. If we sit still long enough, when we get up, we will have lost muscle tone. Every illness which leaves a person lying on a bed takes its toll on our bodies. It is said that the last thing to be reclaimed after an injury or illness is stamina.
Our spiritual life is exactly the same, in many ways. There is no such thing as “coasting” in our spiritual lives. We can’t just stop! We can’t stop praying. We can’t stop reading. We can’t stop liturgically participating in the life of the Church. We need to keep going in order not to atrophy our souls and our spiritual growth. Unlike our bodies, many times we don’t feel the atrophy until we reach into spiritual reserves and find out that we are empty or very close to it. It is in the times of severe sickness, temptation, or struggle that we can come to the realization that we are not as strong as we need to be. It is then, that some people immerse themselves in prayer frantically trying to become stronger in the face of adversity. However, it can be like trying to lift weights tonight, so that you can pull a train in the morning. Many times spiritual stamina and strength are not enough to beat the sense of despondency or hopelessness.
The Saints of our Church remind us to always pray, always ask God for His presence and forgiveness, and to continually be partakers of the Divine Sacraments of the Church. The Saints, many times, will elude to their struggles, and also recount the greatness of the power of God that has come through their constant vigil of prayer, fasting, sacramental participation, and repentance. We must be ready at all times for spiritual warfare. The Devil has been around for Centuries and is not tired. We must not tire, nor become complacent in our spiritual lives, so that we do not become empty of God and full of sin.
Recently, I met with someone who had surgery and was mentioning how helpful the physical therapy was for their return to normal life. They said that therapy was tough, and painstaking at times, but they were able to get back to living. Our spiritual lives require the same dedication and focus. However, the more we grow in God’s embrace, the more we actually understand and truly begin to live a transfigured life, better and different from what we lived before.
This summer, don’t fall into spiritual atrophy. Set a goal to grow. Take small, but consistent steps to grow your relationship with God. Don’t stop! Keep growing!