For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Phil. 2:13)
From the perspective of a healthy diet, we might after drinking a Coke regret the fact that we didn’t opt for a V-8. And with respect to the spiritual life, we might react to a failure in virtue by regretting that we failed to grow in holiness by sanctifying that passing moment. It is important to remember that God is always sending us real and actual graces to sanctify the present moment! That’s encouraging! These actual graces direct our will and actions towards the good ( see Phil. 2:13 quoted above). When an inordinate anger rises up within us, God gives us ever present graces to let meekness descend into our hearts. A moment of anger is thus transformed into a moment of virtue and merit (that’s holiness!).
In a great spiritual book, Manual for Interior Souls, a highly acclaimed spiritual writer, Father Grou, states a principle well worth remembering. He says:
“Great occasions of heroic virtue are rarely presented to us. But little things are offered to us every day….A soul which is faithful to its resolution of pleasing God in the smallest things will most assuredly gain the Heart of God; that it will draw to itself all His tenderness, all His favors, all His graces; that by such a practice it will amass every moment inconceivable treasures of merit….”
The great Father Lallemant adds in The Spiritual Doctrine:
“The smallest measure of holiness, the least action that increases holiness, is to be preferred before scepters and crowns. Whence it follows, that by losing everyday opportunities of doing so many supernatural actions [i.e., little sacrificial acts done out of love for God] , we incur losses of happiness inconceivable in extent and all but irreparable.” P.197
OUR SURE PATH TO HOLINESS IS DOING EVERY LITTLE ACT, EVERY LITTLE SACRIFICE, FOR THE LOVE AND THE GLORY OF GOD. Each time our motive is supernatural in this regard we amass amazing treasures of merit (that is, an increase in sanctifying grace). The more we sanctify the present moment, the more we grow in virtue. The more we grow in virtue, the more we grow in holiness. The more we grow in holiness, the closer we draw to God. Think of the amazing merits St. Therese accumulated using this “little way”! Every moment is an opportunity for growth in holiness through love of God! It is the purity of intention that counts. “All for Jesus.”
These are two great Jesuit and French spiritual writers – Fathers Grou and Lallemant! Saint Therese was French too (although a Carmelite)!
Tom Mulcahy, M.A.
P.S. Now to purify your mind simply get rid of all useless thoughts. Discipline the mind only to dwell on God-centered thoughts. The mind is the switchboard for everything. Train your mind to think kind thoughts, reversing any learned process to think unkind thoughts. This is all about watching over your interior life and practicing purity of heart. Junk out; God in.