When we experience personal growth in any facet of life, that growth didn’t just come out of nowhere.
“I was passing the days solely sleeping, watching TV, playing video games, and hanging out with friends, you know, all the things that bring me personal comfort. Didn’t do anything I didn’t feel like doing. And then as a result of this careful preparation, I discovered the meaning of life as I sat on my couch eating Doritos and watching ‘The Hangover,'”
SAID NO ONE EVER!
Growth is usually the result of some sort of challenge in our life. Let’s look at it from a non-religious angle:
When I was 11, my dad said we had to move 7 hours away! It was a really, really difficult time for me. In retrospect, I see that this change in my life helped me to be more adaptable. It also helped me to realize that the “unknown” isn’t that scary after all.
There are so many challenges that pop up in the lives of teens today. Examples include: moving, death of a loved one, divorce of parents, academics, drama with friends, bullying, body image, etc.
Usually these challenges ultimately lead to some sort of personal growth after some reflection.
So, if we want to advance in our spiritual lives, what are doing just staying in our comfort zones!? We need to challenge ourselves! And I think Catholicism offers so many excellent challenges that lead to spiritual growth.
Reconciliation. Is that comfortable? No– admitting sins isn’t terribly comfortable. But we grow so much when we realize God’s infinite mercy and forgiveness. We realize how much we need Him in our lives. Sounds like growth!
The Real Presence. Comfortable? No– you saw how so many people left Jesus in John 6 when He was basically like, “Guys, you gotta eat me if you want life in you. No, seriously. For the third time, I mean it.” But through receiving Christ in the Eucharist and resting in His presence at Eucharistic Adoration, we come to understand how amazing He is. Growth- check!
The Obligation to go to Mass every week and on days of Holy Obligation. Comfortable? Not 100% of the time. Some days we just don’t FEEL like going to Mass. But by going, we commit ourselves to God. We suppress our human desire to be lazy, realizing that God is more important. Yay growth!
Required days of fasting (Ash Wed and Good Fri for Catholics 18 and over) and abstinence (no meat on Fridays during Lent and on Ash Wed). Comfortable? No– Most people love eating. But by following what the Church has outlined for us, we understand that our carnal desires aren’t everything and that God is worth the suffering (even though it’s actually not TOO much suffering when you consider that people go hungry EVERY day of their lives in third world countries). Growth: now dat’s what I’m talkin’ about!
The list continues.
Sometimes things like fasting and the obligation to go to Mass get dismissed as unnecessary “works.”
“So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”
AMEN! You say it James!
You can have faith in Christ, but if you aren’t doing things to show it and further it…sounds like a pretty dead spiritual life with a paucity of personal growth on the side.
So go out there and challenge yourself this summer!!
“The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort; you were made for greatness.”
~Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI