Remember the Point, or Lose Your Way

Remember the Point, or Lose Your Way

I used to meet with a friend of mine every week for dinner and a drink. We enjoyed each other’s company because we were two peas in a pod in terms of our ideas and philosophies. And so, every week, we would masterfully solve all the world’s problems from the comfort of the table at our favorite pub.

Our conversations were sometimes light and witty and sometimes deep and complex, with topics ranging from politics to religion to social theory. My friend was a brilliant guy, and there were always multiple layers to any point he was trying to make. He often broke off onto various branches and sub-branches of topics in every direction and then somehow was always able to work his way back to the real point he was trying to make. He could seemingly deviate from the subject by ten degrees and then backtrack all the way to his original point without skipping a beat.

That was always impressive to me because I’m very good at breaking off in various directions of sub-topics, but often I can’t quite remember what got me onto the branch I eventually find myself on. “Now, why did I get into that? What was I just saying a few minutes ago?”

We get so involved in the practice of our religion…that we forget the point of the practice of our faith.

We often do the same thing in Catholic life. We get so involved in the practice of our religion, which can have many layers, that we forget the point of the practice of our faith—Holiness. Living holy lives, avoiding sin, and practicing virtue is the object of the Catholic Faith. We can very easily forget that.

Regular mass, rosaries, and other prayer devotions, as well as reading scripture or other spiritual books, are all very good, helpful, and important. These practices provide spiritual nourishment and build spiritual armor. But it can be easy to forget the point of it all and to lose sight of where we’re supposed to be going and why. Just like breaking into various sub-topics in a complex conversation, we can find ourselves saying, “Now, why did I get into that? Where was I going with that? I can’t remember.”

We have to keep holiness in the foreground of our thinking.  Holiness is not an exercise, it’s the result of our efforts in the Good. It’s the fruit of our spiritual practices but also of the choices we make in every moment of our daily lives.  Holiness is ultimately from the Holy Spirit, but it results from the our cooperation with Him, through the practice of virtue. Virtue comes from consistent good practices like kindness, gentleness, mercy, charity, and yes even piety.  We must apply our will to these practices of virtue. Grace alone will not reform our will. We have to consciously make an effort and cooperate with the graces afforded to us through our spiritual practices, and only then can our will—and our nature—be converted to holiness.

Our spiritual practices bring us the grace that enables us to be virtuous, but spiritual practices alone do not reform our wills. If we are practicing our religion without remembering the whole point, we could be spinning our wheels and getting nowhere fast. Remember the point. Don’t be so busied with your practices that you forget why you’re doing them. “Why did I t into this? Oh, I remember…to grow in holiness!”

God keep you, my brethren

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