Here’s the archive of my interview on EWTN’s “The Journey Home” with Marcus Grodi that aired tonight. I explained how I got to Russia, met my wife, became an ordained Vineyard pastor and church planter, joined staff at the International House of Prayer Official Page, then finally returned to the Church of my childhood by reading the lives of Catholic saints and mystics mixed with fasting.
John Paul ll cites several reasons why turning to holiness of life and depth in prayer is important. Besides the fact that it is quite simply part and parcel of the Gospel message, he points out that the supportive culture of “Christendom” has virtually disappeared and that Christian life today has to be lived deeply, or else it may not be possible to live it at all. He also points out that in the midst of this world-wide secularization process there is still a hunger for meaning, for spirituality. It is especially important now for Christian believers to be able to respond to this hunger and “show to what depths the relationship with Christ can lead” (NMI 33, 40).
John Paul makes clear that this depth of union isn’t just for a few unusual people (“mystics”) but is a call that every Christian receives for Christ Himself. “This is the lived experience of Christ’s promise: ‘He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and and manifest myself in him’ (Jn. 14:21).”
It is a journey totally sustained by grace, which nonetheless demands on intense spiritual commitment and is no stranger to painful purifications (the “dark night”). But it leads, in various way, to the ineffable joy experienced by the mystics as “nuptial union.” How can we forget here, among the many shining examples, the teachings of Saint John of the Cross and Saint Teresa of Avila? (NMI 32)
These four principles that John Paul identifies are basic to a proper understanding of the spiritual journey.
- Union with God of this depth is totally unattainable by our own efforts; it is a gift that only God can give; we are totally dependent on His grace for progress in the spiritual life. Yet we know also that God is eager to give this grace and bring us to deep union. Without Him, we can do nothing, but with Him all things are possible (Jn. 14:4-5, Lk. 18:27, Phil. 4:13). Without God, successful completing the journey is impossible, but with Him, in a sense, we are already there. He is truly both the Way and the destination; and our lives are right now, hidden with Christ, in God (Col. 3:3).
- At the same time our effort is indispensable. Our effort is not sufficient to bring about such union, but it is necessary. The saints speak of disposing ourselves for union. The efforts we make help dispose us to receive the gifts of God. If we really value something we must be willing to focus on doing those things that will help us reach the goal. And yet without God’s grace we cannot even know what’s possible, or desire it, or have the strength to make any efforts towards it. It’s God’s grace that enables us to live the necessary “intense spiritual commitment.” “You will seek the LORD you God and you will find Him, if you search after Him will ALL your heart and will ALL your soul” (Deut. 4:29).
- As the Gospel tells us, it’s important to assess what’s required before undertaking a task (before starting to build a tower, or entering into a battle in war) if we want to successfully complete it. Much has to change in us in order to make us capable of deep union with God. The wounds of both original sin and our personal sins are deep and need to be healed and transformed in a process that has its necessarily painful moments. The pain of purification is called by St. John of the Cross the “dark night.” It is important not to be surprised by the painful moments of our transformation but to know that they’re a necessary and blessed part of the whole process. “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
- And finally, we need to know that all the effort and pain is worth it! Infinitely worth it. The pain of the journey will appear in retrospect to have been light, compared to the weight of glory that we were being prepared for (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
I am reading during this 40-day fast a book by Ralph Martin called “The Fulfillment of All Desire”
YOU MUST READ IT
This is not a book only for those who think that they are called to a “life of prayer” (by the way, how else can we communicate and fellowship with God Himself?). It is not only for those who recognize an intercessory role as their primary function within the body of Christ. It’s not only for those who identify themselves as Catholic, Evangelical, Charismatic, Mystic, or Emergent church.
It’s for those who:
- desire to acknowledge that there is a depth to the knowledge of God, which we, in our “instant society” are lacking profoundly
- those who are experiencing hunger for God
- those who love challenges
- those who believe that inspiration of the past generations can be valuable
- those who want to go deeper in understanding the ways to reach their Creator
- those who need biblical proof that all of these mystics are right
- don’t understand why things are happening, when they laid down their whole lives to Jesus
- those who struggle with prayer life
- those who are tired of seven-points-to-successful-prayer
- those who are searching for the ancient truths spoken in a modern language
- those who love God Himself above everything else, who burned the bridges, who know that there is nothing else to come back to, but are apprehensive of stepping into the unknown
- those who want to become saints ( and I am quite serious about that one)
If you were struggling while reading “Fire within” by T. Dubay, this is “easier to read” version for the same subject – prayer.
You will be messed up for some time, possibly for life…
You will discover (if you don’t know yet) that the whole body of Christ should be grateful to the Catholics for their wisdom…
You will wonder why no one told you these things before, and how come all of it is in the Bible…
You will discover something about yourself that someone else already knew hundreds years ago…
You will feel that you are a part of something bigger…
I will be quoting from this book during the fast to provoke you to buy it, read it, and live it! I hope you enjoy it as I do.