How do you grow spiritually? Or is there even such a thing as spiritual growth?
Ever since my conversion experience in high school, I recognized the Holy Spirit working in my heart to draw me closer to the Lord; to serve God with my whole heart, mind, and soul; to love others, and; to become more like Jesus.
The question is not so much “what” God desires, however, as “how” it comes about. We are powerless to produce this growth in ourselves. We need the help of the Holy Spirit. But that work also requires our cooperation.
Early on, I learned about the importance of practicing spiritual disciplines. I encountered “The Wheel” illustration used by the Navigators, with its four “spokes” of prayer, scripture, fellowship, and evangelization. The Church teaches that we receive grace and open ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit through the Sacraments and practicing works of charity.
The hang-up comes, however, with the part about our cooperation. It’s all too easy to begin thinking of spiritual growth as a matter of gaining more knowledge and practicing more devotions. Yet, we still struggle against the tendency to sin, and we may never really have a sense of where we’re going or how we need to change. We have a good idea about what is spiritually unhealthy (i.e., sin), but we’re less clear about what it means to be spiritually well.
That’s part of the reason I wrote the book, A Shot in the Arm: A Guide to Diagnosing and Improving Your Spiritual Health. In the book, I use my medical background, theological training, and personal experience to draw a comparison between a body area or function and the spiritual life. In each of twelve areas, I help the reader:
1) Learn how a healthy body works.
2) Discover what it means to be spiritually healthy.
3) Understand spiritual disorders and how to recognize them.
4) Develop a treatment plan for the particular area of concern.
Over the years, I have sought out practical materials for mature disciples. Instead, I have found most books either too abstract or written for beginners. The writings of the saints are filled with gems, but medieval language, dated metaphors, and content meant for the members of religious communities makes them difficult for the average disciple to understand and apply. Therefore, I worked hard to make sure this book would be accessible and practical, for both beginners and those who are more advanced.
It’s my hope that this book will give your faith “a shot in the arm.”
I remember the first time I got a shot of penicillin. I had a sore throat, high fever, and I felt awful. I didn’t look forward to going to the doctor because he gave me vaccinations, but this time I didn’t care. I wanted to feel better. Sure enough, the doctor came in with a needle and syringe, gave me an injection, and sent me home. I didn’t like the shot, but I did like the results. By that evening, my fever broke, and I felt much better.
There have been many times in my life when I wish I could have had a spiritual “shot in the arm.”
Excerpt from A Shot in the Arm by Kevin Luksus
You can find out more about the book and how to order it at everydaycatholicdisciple.com/bookstore.