I wanted to spend a little time talking about how one progresses to the door of the interior life and how we can come to a basic understanding of this most critical concept. This is really specific for those that are lukewarm, converts and potentially some hardened sinners who just want to break free from the chains of sin. Those who are not either one of those three are perhaps moving along steadily and this may serve just as a refresher. I will share some advice on this matter that I have found invaluable on my journey and that is very easy to start, even today!
I have written on this in previous posts but I want to emphasize that as one progresses deeper into the faith, we will be at times infused with divine light that gives us more knowledge, understanding, and wisdom that will enable us to understand God’s will and His truths. This is a very gradual process for those on the normal path to sainthood. Let me give you a practical example of this. Have you ever had the pleasure (or displeasure) of talking to someone in your family or group of friends about certain aspects of your faith and they just don’t seem to get it? Maybe you are sharing something that is so profound and beautiful to you but the other person does not feel the same way? Perhaps you get flustered and annoyed that others are not grasping your insight? You are not alone but there is a reason for this. Now, if what we are saying is true and is said with some charity, the primary reason that the other does not respond is either that person is steeped in sin and not able to grasp the divine light you were given or perhaps that person, having a firm commitment to proceed up Mount Carmel, has themselves not been given that divine light yet.
All of what I said above I want to relate to the interior life. This is truly a topic at times that is not understood well and for that reason often left on the sidelines. For a refresher, what is the interior life?
The interior life is a life which seeks God in everything, a life of prayer and the practice of living in the presence of God. It connotes intimate, friendly conversation with Him, and a determined focus on internal prayer versus external actions, while these latter are transformed into means of prayer.
The interior life is a life focused on God and primarily achieved by a life of prayer. Prayer is the means by which we build and grow our relationship with God, grow in understanding of scripture and the sacraments, and grow in virtue. It really is the means where we come to union with God. This is a life long process and one that is necessary for all Catholics (and the whole world). But you will find that as you grow in this interior life, others may not understand your language, your thoughts and perhaps even question the merit of all that you do. Again, one can only understand was has been infused by God.
So how does one even come to a basic understanding of this? How does one receive this divine light to understand these truths from God? How does one even combat some of the difficulties of life and overcome mortal sin and lukewarmness? I recommend two things: devotion to the Blessed Mother and perseverance.
Devotion to the Blessed Mother for those starting off on the path of recovery can simply consist of a single Hail Mary said everyday asking her to intercede for us that we may be granted the grace by God to overcome our sin. One of the current books I am reading, The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus Liguori states that even with one Hail Mary the Blessed Mother will come to our aid. She is the refugee for all sinners and as the Mother of Mercy and the mother of Jesus Christ, her goal is to lead the worst of the worst to her son. Unlike Jesus Christ, the Blessed Mother is not the final judge of souls, so a soul devoted to her will only be shown mercy and she will take our petitions to her son who will not refuse His mother.
Perseverance is absolutely required as well. It may take many days, months, even years to overcome some of our major roadblocks. This perseverance has to be rooted in the belief that the Lord will grant you the good thing you ask but He will do it at His time, not ours. So this is not senseless perseverance, it truly is one that believes the holy physician will provide us with our remedy when it is necessary. We cannot think of prayer to be something that will be answered instantly because we think it should be, rather we must leave it up to the Lord and firmly trust that He will help us. We also must let Him administer the correct remedy and not the one we think we need. This could perhaps mean that suffering may be required but again, our faith in the Lord must be rooted in the belief that He loves us and that He is doing this for our own good. Scripture shows this time and time again.
Will you keep falling into sin during this time? Very likely but with greater resolve to get back on your feeet. Will it be easier with prayer? Overtime. Will you eventually overcome your fault if you stick to a simple devotion to the Blessed Mother and have perseverance? Absolutely!
What I want to mention is that devotion to the Blessed Mother does end with a Hail Mary. What I found in my own experience is that this devotion leads to greater devotion to Christ and truly drives us to seek a holier life and conformity to God’s will. This also manifests a greater desire to go to confession and to receive holy communion. The devotion is merely a seed and once this seed blossoms it will produce a lot more fruit from that basic devotion.
Start small and go from there. Once you begin to delve deeper into the interior life, I can’t even tell you the things you will understand and the change you will experience through the infusion of divine light. Trust the Lord, read about the lives of the saints and grow in prayer.