As we end one year and look forward to a new one, Father Fidelis encourages hearts to grow into a mature spirituality. These are the best years with nothing to dread for the elder Christian.
As we approach the dusk of our lives, we are offered the tremendous opportunity of commencing a new chapter which will focus our attention on what it means to grow "spiritually graceful." We have heard the statement "I don't mind growing old, but I do want to grow old gracefully." Growing old gracefully may mean many different things to many people. It may mean being well disposed to the inevitability of aging. Or it may mean to turn our attention outside our self-concerns with aches and pains and offer volunteer service to worthy causes and organizations. There are those too who have developed the art of leisure throughout their lives and find purpose and meaning in spirituality. These I would say have grown "spiritually graceful."
But what does being spiritually graceful mean? First of all, it means we are fully alive in the consciousness of God. It means all of our experiences find their connecting point in God. It is God who gives meaning to our lives as we advance towards our sunset years. It means we have become receptive to God's grace which empowers us to be patient with other's limitations and infirmities; a grace that enables us to mirror the beatitudes. Consequently, we have developed personally in such a way as to become approachable because of our peaceful, nonjudgmental, compassionate nature. Spiritually graceful people find it hard to be busy-bodies, gossips, sour in their view of the world, in finding a twisted pleasure in pointing out all that is wrong.
On the other hand, pessimism is what propels the spiritually ungraceful. For them their point of reference is the self. They have failed to mature spiritually. There is the old axiom "As you live now so you grow old then." A person who lives a superficial, perfunctory spiritual life focused on religious legalisms and observances and not on a dynamic spiritual relationship with God will reach their senior years with a mediocre, stale spirituality.
Those who have developed what I would call the spirituality of hope and optimism find a rainbow after a storm, believe that sunrise follows sunset, are able to understand life's challenging situations in such way that they have avoided being sucked into sinful dramas, and have come to understand the motive behind the behaviors which could lead them to be ungrateful in how they deal with others. They have developed grace and composure.
Being spiritually graceful means we have the grace to be patient with others while at the same time knowing when to remove our self from a person or situation which refuses to be receptive to God's assistance to grow. It means respecting our own boundaries and the boundaries of others. Seeking spiritual maturity in our lives we allow God, first of all, to develop in us the fruits of the Spirit and the grace to cultivate them.
How to become spiritually graceful?
Awareness: A consciousness of God's presence in our lives
Gratitude: A recognition of the gifts which God has given us
Acceptance: Fully embracing the gifts given in the manner God has chosen to give them
Surrendering: Always attentive to God's will in our lives by living according to God's Word
Generosity: Responding generously to the needs of those around us
Forgiveness: Not allowing the sun to set with a resentment in our hearts
Prayer: Lifting our hearts to the presence of God
The path to spiritual gracefulness as we mature is simple. All that we need to do is remain on the path which Jesus has laid out in the Gospels; to love God above all things and our neighbors as ourselves. And as Saint Benedict says in the Rule "Never to despair of God's mercy."
-- Father Fidelis
Note: the picture is Sunset number 11
Diego Rivera 1956
From the collection of
Museo Dolores Olmedo