The Interior Life
1. Human life is threefold. First, there is the physical life, that is, the life of the body animated by the soul. Then there is the intellectual life, through which the soul searches for truth and controls the powers of the body. Finally, there is the supernatural life, which leads us towards Christian perfection and unites us to God, the source of goodness and happiness.
These three levels of life are all good in themselves, but form a hierarchy in which the primacy is held by the spiritual life. Physical life is a gift from God, but must remain subordinate to the spiritual life. If it were given precedence over reason and over the natural and divine law, our proper scale of values would be upset and we should fall prey to a host of sinful inclinations. The same applies to the intellectual life. God endowed us with intelligence to enable us to know the truth, explore the secrets of the universe, and use them for our own welfare. If the intellect fails to ascend to the knowledge of God from its knowledge of worldly objects and ceases to be inspired by a high regard for virtue, its achievements can lead eventually to death and destruction.
The supernatural life, which is nourished by divine grace, perfects man. All our physical powers and spiritual faculties should be dominated by this life, which Jesus Christ came into the world to bring to us. We can have this life if we obey His commands, control our passions, pray fervently, resign ourselves to His will, and perform all our actions for love of Him.
2. The daily struggle for existence gradually wears down both the physical and the intellectual life. The same can happen to the supernatural life. The long process of self-denial, acceptance of crosses, and efforts to achieve perfection, can be very difficult and very tiring. Often we feel weary and discouraged, but on these occasions we must recall the words of Jesus. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) “Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Mt. 11:28)
3. Let us go to Jesus when we are worn out by conflict and have no strength left. Let us go to Him when we feel that we can walk no farther along the stony path to perfection. He will help us and restore our courage; He will grant us an increase of grace, which is the source of the spiritual life.
It is essential, however, that we should have a spirit of recollection. If we are dissipated, we shall be unable to hear the voice of God. We must speak with God and open our hearts to Him; we must tell Him that we love Him and wish to learn to love Him more and to conform more completely to His designs for us. Then we shall find peace and contentment in the interior life such as the world can neither know nor communicate.
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