Behold, ten words all beginning with the letter “M” to help you on the highway to holiness, which terminates in your heavenly homeland for all eternity. Hopefully these ten hints and nudges will fire your spiritual engine to pursue the true purpose of your life—to be holy as your heavenly Father is holy and attain true sanctity of life! Let us dive in, head first!
1. Map in Life
If you are traveling to a new destination but without your map, then rest assured you will end up in the wrong place. Common sense! Get your GPS, plug it in and follow directions; then you will arrive with speed and graceful ease. Our life has an ultimate destiny, but we must have a correct map to navigate us in the right direction. Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits and the composer of the Spiritual Exercises, gives us the map to arrive at our eternal destiny; it is called principle and foundation (Spiritual Exercises # 23). The first sentence of this short meditation or consideration paves the way: “Man is created to praise God, reverence God, serve God so as to save his soul.” The classical catechism expresses this same concept with a slightly different twist to it: “We are here to know God, love God, and serve God in this life so as to be happy with Him forever in heaven.”Therefore, in all we say, think, plan and do, may God and eternal life in heaven be our primary focus. This is our map in life.
Without a deep prayer life our spiritual life will be superficial, mediocre, tepid and stagnant. God does not want this. He warns us in the Book of Revelation: “You are neither hot nor cold but lukewarm, I will vomit you out of my mouth.” Strong words! Find some quality time on a daily basis to meditate on the Word of God. As the Psalmist reminds us: the Word of God is a light and lantern for our steps. Our Lady is our example. Two times in the Gospel of Luke we contemplate Our Lady pondering the Word of God in her Immaculate heart: at the visit of the Shepherds to the baby Jesus, and when the boy Jesus is found in the Temple after being lost for three days! Jesus accentuates the importance of the Word of God in His rebuttal to Satan: “Man does not live only on bread but on every word that issues forth from the mouth of God.”
3. Mass and the Eucharist
Not only should we meditate on the Bible, the Word of God, but we should have a daily hunger for Jesus who is the Bread of Life. If possible, try to set aside time daily to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and to receive Holy Communion with faith, with devotion and with an ever-growing love. In the Our Father we pray: “Give us this day our daily bread.” A Eucharistic interpretation of this passage could be to receive the Bread of Life in Holy Communion on a daily basis. Indeed, the greatest action that the human person can do on earth is to receive Jesus, the Bread of Life, into his heart in Holy Communion with a heart overflowing with love. Try it; you will never regret it!
Jesus commanded us: “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful.” Mercy must be a two-way street—meaning, that if we want to be recipients of God’s inexhaustible fount of mercy then we must practice mercy to others, and especially at home to those who are closest to us. Indeed, “Charity begins at home.” In this year of mercy, we highly recommend reading and meditating on the spiritual classic, “The Diary of Divine Mercy in My Soul” by Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska. Jesus called her the Secretary of His Mercy. May we all be secretaries of God’s mercy, recipients of God’s mercy, preachers and livers of God’s mercy, missionaries of God’s mercy, living icons of God’s mercy. Mercy is the greatest attribute of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and it is simply God’s loving Heart forgiving the moral misery of the sinner. At the end of our lives we will all be saved only by God’s infinite mercy. “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever.”
5. Meal time
Let us try to rediscover the importance of fortifying our families by treasuring and cherishing MEAL TIME. We should always start off our meals by inviting God to be with us as we eat by saying a short prayer. Then may spouses, parents, brothers and sisters enjoy the company of each other as a gift and treasure! Allow every family member to speak freely and let us learn to listen attentively. Bonding is so necessary for family members; the daily meal-time is the prime time to bond as a family. Jesus sat down at the table with friends; so we are invited to sit down at the table with our family. One suggestion: during this relatively short time together no t.v., radio, phones, electronic gadgets of any kind; these all put a damper on this time for family connection and family bonding.
The spiritual life can be compared to a bird taking fight. A bird will never take flight unless he has full use of both his wings. A one-winged bird will never ascend beyond the ground he hops on. Likewise, in our spiritual life we urgently need two wings to soar into the spiritual atmosphere of holiness that God desires for us. What are these two wings? They are fervent prayer and the constant practice of penance or mortification. In other words, we are called to live a life of sacrifice. Jesus states this in unequivocal terms: “Whoever wants to be my follower must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” If you have never been spiritually trained to live a life of penance and mortification, then start by giving up small things so as to build up will-power; then add to your spiritual muscles.
7. Meekness of Heart
One of the most beautiful qualities of heart is that of meekness. On one occasion Jesus actually described His Sacred Heart: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”(Mt 11:28-30) Meekness is not weakness, but powerful emotion and feelings under control. A meek person practices patience on a constant basis even when he encounters the most trying and burdensome crosses. Jesus of course is our supreme model and example. A meek person is not cutting, abrupt, sarcastic, biting, rude, careless or inconsiderate. A meek person has great respect for all people that cross his path because he recognizes that they are all creatures of God and destined for heaven.
8. Missionary Spirit
If we love God, then we should love what God loves—the salvation of souls. The last words of Jesus before ascending to heaven were the following: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you. And behold I am with you always, until the end of time.” (Mt. 28: 19-20). Pope Saint John Paul II was possibly the greatest missionary in the past century, if not millennium. In his encyclical on the call to be missionaries, The Mission of the Redeemer, the pontiff challenges all believers and followers of Jesus, who was sent by God the Father, to be engaged in the missionary work of the Church. From Baptism we are all called to be missionaries. In Confirmation the Bishop states that the newly confirmed are called to both defend the faith and spread the faith. In the same encyclical Saint Pope John Paul II asserts that the modern mission territory is the big cities. “The harvest is rich but the laborers are few.” Pray to the Holy Spirit to enlighten you on how you can be a modern missionary, so as to work with Jesus to save souls and gather an abundant numbers of souls into the eternal granaries—heaven!
9. Mass Media
We live in an electronic world that can be used either for good or evil, for our sanctification or our condemnation. Take a step back and look at all of the modern technological means or tools that we have at our finger tips and pray to the Holy Spirit to discern how you can use these to please Almighty God and to save souls. Here is a list that you might examine and pray over for discernment: t.v, radio, YouTubes, Podcasts, Instagram, Facebook, blog articles, books, pamphlets, pictures, paintings—all of these are means that can be used for good, but also for evil. Is there any one of these that you feel inspired to look into and utilize so as to promote the Kingdom and bring souls closer to God? Saint Thomas Aquinas highlights the fact that one soul is worth more than the whole created universe.
10. Mary: Our Life, Our Sweetness, and Our Hope
In the midst of the torments, storms, trials and sufferings of life we should lift up our minds, our hearts and our souls to Mary, the STELLA MARIS—THE STAR OF THE SEA! It was the great Doctor of the Church, the mellifluous Doctor Saint Bernard, who presented Our Lady as the bright and shining Star of the Sea. By lifting our gaze to her in the midst of the storms of life, our bark (our soul) will not capsize and sink, but will sail smoothly to the port of salvation—our heavenly homeland. Therefore, let us always make a constant and concerted effort to get to know Mary, talk to Mary, confide our joys and sorrows to Mary, invoke Mary, trust Mary, imitate Mary, love Mary and die in the arms of Mary. “Never was it known that anyone who fled to her protection was left unaided.”(Marian prayer—the Memorare)
In conclusion, read and meditate upon these TEN M’S of your spiritual life. Then after meditating upon them try to put them into practice on a daily basis, at least some of them. If done your spiritual life will grow, flourish and blossom filling the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary with immense joy. My friends, God has given us one life to live and to live to the fullest extent possible. Let us work diligently in this life, and then we can rest forever in heaven.