United Body is an attempt to address and start combating all the modern problems that we are currently facing within our time such as abortion, poor governments, manipulated education of children, biased media, and so forth. Without a doubt in my mind, the number one prerequisite required in order for there to be change that we have never seen before is the renewal of the interior life within the Catholic Church. If the laity and clergy are not actively attempting to go up the path of perfection, then there will be little drive and energy to tackle some of the larger problems in the world. It will also be quite futile to attempt any sort of offensive because the interior life is what unites our will with God’s. If we are not united with Him, we can very easily start going in wrong directions. I think this passage from the gospel of Matthew gives some support to my claim:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean. – Matthew 23:25-26
I love this quote. To me it really highlights the primacy of the interior over the exterior, which is something I have written in previous posts. The problem is this message cannot just end at this passage and it cannot be something that gets forgotten behind the exterior, as it often does. Time and time again it needs to be brought to the center stage for each member of the body of Christ. All of the saints in history could only have reached such holiness through the interior life. It is the life of the Catholic. It is in the interior life that our spirit is replenished with grace, where our sin and vice is revealed and destroyed, where our wills are united with Christ and where all virtue is found. While we are saved only by grace, without the interior life there is no salvation because by not developing in the interior life we are effectively rejecting God’s saving grace that he has prepared for those that go up this path.
Unfortunately there is a big misconception about the interior life. For example, I have often heard that the interior life is really only for the mystics, the religious, perhaps priests but its not really necessary for the day to day Catholic. False! Some also make the claim that the interior life is really only for a certain type of Catholic, perhaps those that are melancholics and are easily able to dwell within themselves. False! The interior life is for all, not just for melancholics but for the external sanguine and the fierce choleric. Some are uncomfortable with the method of the interior life, which often employees silence and solitude, and use that as an excuse to not practice the interior life. Let us again simply turn to scripture on this matter and do as the Lord has instructed us:
When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you – Matthew 6:5-6
To me inner room takes on two meanings: the first meaning in the sense of physical privacy where we are alone and the second meaning the inner room within ourselves. Sensory silence and solitude is required in order that we may shut out the world to reduce distraction. Once we have that we proceed to our own inner room in our heart where we can begin to communicate heart to heart with our Lord. We find the Lord in silence as we see with Elijah:
Then the LORD said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound.
When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave… 1 Kings 19:11-13
The Lord is giving us the exact method by which we can all achieve a holy interior life and gives us the means by which we can proceed towards sainthood. Scripture supports this time and time again. If we were to pick out a few saints throughout history and read their biography or some of their other works, we would without a doubt see the interior life as the main tool used in order to draw closer to the Lord.
The positive benefits of the interior life are many: a restful heart that trusts in the Lord, deeper understanding of sacraments and scripture, a heart of stone that is made to a heart of flesh, love of God above all things and love of our neighbor as ourselves, joy in suffering, being able to do active works safely due to the overflow of grace and much more. Are there any negatives to the interior life? None!
So why the lack of focus on the interior life? I took a look at a seminarian curriculum to see what courses are offered on the interior life. From the few that I looked at, 0. I didn’t go through all the seminaries or the exact course details but it truly was shocking to see that the interior life is not a reoccurring course every year in the life of a new priest. If it is truly the means of salvation by which we come to our Lord, should this not be one of the most important things anyone can learn? To me it would seem one should prioritize their energy on the interior life first prior to anything else but this does not seem to be the case. I personally never understood the importance of the interior life until a few years back and that was honestly the first time I came upon it. It was like a treasure that was hidden from my eyes and when I found it I knew I had found something truly special. And to be very clear, the interior life draws us to fully understand the wisdom of God in all things such as scripture and the sacraments. A life of prayer doesn’t mean we give up those things but rather these things take on the true meaning through a life of prayer!
I think the enemy has some part to play into this naturally. By drawing us away from the teachings of the church doctors, to focusing more on the active vs interior works, by the weariness of mortal and venial sins, the interior life has fallen off the radar for most. Not all, but most. I think we have to make very firm efforts to grow in the interior life at all costs and to share its life giving power to all that we come across. This is what will transform people, just as the apostles were transformed from weak men to champions of the faith after Pentecost. United Body needs people who are champions of the interior life because those are the people who are united to God’s will.
Let us pray that the Blessed Mother will take us quickly to our Lord Jesus Christ, that he may grant us the grace to grow in the interior life so that we may do the will of God all the days of our lives.