January 1, 2017 | JOHN RAY
Ever had one of those moments of clarity, of sudden understanding, an “epiphany”, that hits you so hard it feels like a punch to the gut? I’m not talking about those joyful ecstatic moments of revelation or reassurance, but the sudden sobering, the cutting clarity of coming to see something you clearly misunderstood. Something you were assured was one way, but turned out to be something different altogether?
I’ve had a few, probably could’ve had more if I paid better attention. One of the biggest came through the words of M. Robert Mulholland Jr. in his slim but profound volume Invitation to a Journey. In it he writes “Spiritual Formation is being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others”. Simple right? Might not strike you with the same force it did me (or at all). But it continues to ressonnate, even haunt me, as the deepest of truths do.
The impact has everything to do with how badly I misunderstood the purpose of what Mullholland calls Spiritual Formation (others call it discipleship or practicing Spiritual Disciplines). I had assumed they were all for me, for my development, somehow to make me into who God wanted me to be in the first place. I also thought somehow the better I was at them, the more favor I earned with God. I thought they were a means to my own ends.
Mullholland’s words broke that. I have come to modify the statement a bit and adopted it as something of a mantra “Spiritual Formation is being conformed to the image of Christ for the Glory of God and the sake of others”. For me it finally opens a way of discipleship that makes holistic sense. One that is motivated by grace fueled freedom instead of earning motivated works. It gives over the evaluation of my heart, my efforts and my life to God and not some illusion of moral perfection.
As we talk over these next few weeks about what practices to incorporate,
to the glory of God and the sake of others,
take time daily to pray the prayer of St. Fursey found in Chapter 4 of The Attentive Life.
Consider praying this with your kids as well and maybe even develop movements with it?
A Prayer of Saint Fursey
“The arms of God be around my shoulders,
The touch of the Holy Spirit upon my head,
The sign of Christ’s cross upon my forehead,
The sound of the Holy Spirit in my ears,
The fragrance of the Holy Spirit in my nostrils,
The vision of heaven in my eyes,
The conversation of heaven’s company on my lips,
The work of God’s church with my hands,
The service of God and my neighbour in my feet,
A home for God in my heart,
And to God, the father of all, my entire being.
Read chapter 5 of The Attentive Life and read and reflect on the following article.
Remember no meeting Sunday. Let’s continue to pray for all those traveling and all those holding down the homefront.