Spiritual GPS: The 3 Stages of the Spiritual Life, Part III – Lent 2017


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Reflective Study Guide Questions

“The first duty which is incumbent on man is to give up sin and resist concupiscence, which are opposed to charity; this belongs to beginners, in whose hearts charity is to be nursed and cherished lest it be corrupted. The second duty of man is to apply his energies chiefly to advance in virtue; this belongs to those who are making progress and who are principally concerned that charity may be increased and strengthened in them. The third endeavor and pursuit of man should be to rest in God and enjoy Him; and this belongs to the perfect who desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ.”

St. Thomas Aquinas
  • In the Illuminative Stage of the spiritual life, you start to love God more — not for what He has done for you or gives you, but for who He is. Do you know God well? Do you know who He is, what qualities and characteristics He has?

  • In the Illuminative Stage of the spiritual life, you also start to become detached from worldly things. Has this happened to you before? Or, do you struggle with attachment to things? What are some things you feel attachment to that you can intentionally work on detaching from this Lent?

  • You may begin to lose your taste for the things of this world as you progress in your spiritual life, and that is because you may begin to realize what lies ahead of you with God in heaven. St. Therese of Lisieux said, “Thy world is thy ship and not thy home.” Do you forget that once in a while? That our destination is heaven, and that this world and all the things in it are passing? They are just a foretaste of what will exist in heaven. How does this truth change things for you?

  • As many people progress in their spiritual life, they begin to accept their sufferings more easily — even to the point of enjoying carrying their crosses. It’s sort of an acquired taste. If you’re not there right now, that’s okay. But what are some small steps you can take to help you get there?

  • Matthew Leonard says, “The dark night of the soul is a feeling of abandonment by God that occurs with people who have reached the higher stages of prayer in the spiritual life. It’s the final purging process where we learn to see God no matter how distant He seems… The Dark night is being united to Calvary.” As our Lenten journey also leads us to Calvary and to the Cross, take some time to reflect on how you can be better united to Jesus on the Cross. When have you ever felt abandoned by God? Did you allow that feeling to move you closer to the Cross?

  • If we are not united to the cross of Christ in this life, we will be in the next — provided we’re in a state of grace. Meaning, we’ll have to go through Purgatory. Have you seen yourself trying to escape from carrying your cross in this life? Can you commit to trying to carry your cross with greater faith this Lent?

  • We’re supposed to mature in our spiritual lives and help others do so too. Matthew Leonard mentioned one word as being the key to advancing in our spiritual lives. Reflect on that word, on how you can live out that word in your live, and help others do the same.

About Matthew Leonard

Matthew Leonard is an internationally known speaker, author, podcaster, filmmaker, and Vice President of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology (founded by Dr. Scott Hahn). A convert to Catholicism and former missionary to Latin America, Matthew is a frequent guest on radio and television programs across the country appearing on SiriusXM, EWTN, CBS, and the Magnificat. He hosts a podcast on iTunes titled “The Art of Catholic.” Matthew is the Executive Producer and host of the best-selling Journey Through Scripture video series and is a featured speaker by Lighthouse Catholic Media. He also holds a Masters in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville. In addition to numerous articles, he is the author of two books, Louder Than Words: The Art of Living as a Catholic and Prayer Works! Getting A Grip On Catholic Spirituality. Matthew lives in Ohio with his wife Veronica and their five children.