Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Some Spiritual Guidance While on the Mountian


Dear Parishioners,

Have you thought about the many times a mountain is mentioned in Sacred Scripture? Often there is an encounter, in some manner, with God.

Think of Abraham and Isaac in today’s first reading. The sacrifice of Isaac was about to take place on a mountain (Mt. Moriah) before the angel stopped it from happening. Moses received God’s commandments on Mt. Sinai (Mt. Horeb). The prophet Elijah challenged the false prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. Jesus gave us the Sermon on the Mount on the Mount of Beatitudes and prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. Jesus’ disciples experience His Transfiguration (today’s Gospel) on Mt. Tabor. He died for us on Mt. Calvary (Golgotha). In these and other situations, the mountain is the location for encountering God.

In the spiritual life, people frequently describe some intense religious event as a mountaintop experience. Perhaps, we might identify the Transfiguration of Jesus as such an experience for the apostles Peter, James and John. They saw Jesus in His glory. While Moses and Elijah—both commanding respect and obedience from the Jews—are seen with Jesus, they disappear. They represented the Law and the Prophets, respectively, to the people.  However, we are told, Jesus is the one to whom we must listen! He is the beloved Son of God! He alone!

As you progress through Lent, realize you may experience many types of situations in the spiritual life.  Perhaps there will be some mountaintop days when the presence of God is powerful, real and apparent. Other times there may be aridity and dryness in your prayer, like being in the desert. There may be occasions when you can seem to be drowning like St. Peter (see Mt. 14: 22-33) and you need Jesus to come to the rescue. Moreover, there can be times when nothing whatsoever seems to be happening. Is God there?

What God seeks is our fidelity to Him at all times. Emotions are fleeting and circumstances can change quickly without warning. Our emotions or feelings are not necessarily the best guides for sanctity or holiness. Many saints have had days of spiritual darkness (a dark night of the soul) or a tremendous cross or suffering in their lives. The Lord may allow this for the increase of grace and holiness in us.

Here's some spiritual advice: work to create and fortify virtues (good habits) in your life. Virtue involves discipline and a regular routine in your spiritual life. Otherwise, we can develop vices (bad habits) when we fail to pray, fail to go to Mass and receive Holy Communion weekly, fail to frequent the Sacrament of Penance, etc.  When we find a fault or weakness in our lives that leads to sin (for example, selfishness), we should attempt to cultivate the opposite virtue (charity, generosity).

As you read the Scriptures, we see Jesus had to teach, guide, reprimand and warn his chosen disciples. They did not necessarily understand Him or comprehend His motives. However, He did perform miracles in their presence and even allowed some of his closest followers to accompany Him up the mountain where they experienced His glory. Nonetheless, He gave them all what they needed to know so that they would find eternal life and salvation in Him. I suspect He will do the same for you and me in whatever way He sees fit. Trust Him and be faithful to Him, no matter what. 

Our spiritual journey may not necessarily involve some fantastic mountaintop experience, but it will be whatever God determines is for our ultimate good.

Fr. Ed Namiotka


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