While feeling spiritual may come naturally to many Catholics during Mass, it can be difficult to maintain that feeling during the week. Like the apostles of Jesus, many Catholics’ faith is often tested by ordinary trials, and a strong foundation in spirituality can help the devout withstand them. One of the best ways to ensure spiritual health is to first understand what spirituality is, and then how to live out those beliefs.
Measuring Your Spiritual Health
Taking a self-checkup of spirituality is important to personal faith formation and development. It provides people with a chance to reflect on what’s going well, and where we can improve. By truly understanding the meaning of life and Catholics’ role in it as children of God, we can live in His love and carry out His charge to us. As we participate in prayerful worship at Mass, share His word, and live by the teachings of Jesus, we, too, grow in faith. But what does being spiritually healthy actually mean? For some, it’s a struggle to feel assured of doing it right.
There are several commonly accepted characteristics of spirituality. These include having a purpose in life, and the ability to reflect upon that purpose. Spiritual people generally acknowledge that there are a true right and wrong; they can distinguish between the two, and act in the moral way to pursue what is good and avoid evil. Spiritually healthy people also have a thorough understanding of their beliefs and the ability to put that understanding into words. And finally, people with a strong sense of spirituality carry out regular works of service toward others; in the Bible, Mark 10:45 reads, “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Catholics are quite fortunate to have a road map of sorts to follow in the form of spiritual works of mercy.
Relying on the Spiritual Works of Mercy
The spiritual works of mercy are long-ago established principles of the Christian faith; “So also the faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:17). Catholics acknowledge seven works of spiritual mercy. They are to counsel those in doubt, instruct those who are ignorant, admonish those who sin, comfort those in sorrow, forgive others, bear wrongs with patience, and pray for all, including those who have gone before us to meet God. By acting in accordance with these principles, Catholics can live the word of God in their day-to-day lives, growing in spirituality and ever closer to God’s will.
Maintaining a strong sense of spirituality takes care and effort. But Catholics aren’t alone in their struggle. The tradition of spiritual works of mercy provide a framework for living and growing in spirituality according to the principles of the Catholic faith.