Spiritual Direction: Which Way Are You Headed?
Over the course of the last several articles we have been looking at the different aspects of spiritual direction. The purpose was to get the reader’s attention on the importance of spiritual direction. Now that we have your attention, draw your attention to how spiritual direction actually works.
On Jan. 20, 1961, President Kennedy ended his speech with these words:
The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavour will light our country and all who serve it — and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.
And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.
My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.
Sixty one years ago, we were led by a man who was not afraid to invoke the name of God and ask for his guidance and blessing. We were led by a President who understood that we were working on God’s team here on earth. We were Him not against him. We would not succeed if we were against him. Today for many different reasons this simple truth has escaped our leaders and the general public. We are more concerned with our own lives than with the problems of the world. We turn a blind eye to the troubles of our neighbors and our country. We are being led to phony problems and being “awoken” to create reality that is not consistent with our belief in God or in the teachings of the Church. How could we have fallen so far?
Brothers and sisters, we have a great example of this same type of behavior in the Bible. There are four examples of this in the story of Lazurus and Rich Man.
First, neglecting the poor is a damnable sin – There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.
Here is the problem. We as individuals can not neglect helping others. Helping the poor is something we can not and should not leave up to the government. If you let the government take over your responsibilities what will happen to you? What will happen to your soul? What reward will you receive? What in the end did you really do? Remember the words of President Kennedy: my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country. Did President Kennedy realize by helping the poor individually and not through a government program, we would in effect be doing something that Rich Man in the parable did not do? Or, did President Kennedy realize that society should put their sights on eternal goals and not to obtain riches here on earth?
Second, although he is in torment, the rich man has not changed – The rich man, in torment, raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, “Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.” Here, we see that people no matter what they say often are judged more by their actions than their words. Did the Rich Man learn anything from his torment? He asked to get out of his predicament but was he truly sorry for what he had done here on earth? What does this say for us today? How do you apply this aspect of the parable to your own life? What can you do today to show that you do realize the mistakes that Rich Man made in his life here on earth?
Third, the rich man does not ask to come to Heaven, instead he asks Lazarus to be sent to Hell. Here, we see problems that many of us face here on earth. If we can not succeed we wish that no one succeeds. If we see a person who we believe does not deserve something we want to take it away from them. Is this right? Is this what we should do? We should not worry about what others have or do, we should worry about what we do for ourselves and others.
Fourth, Abraham further indicates to the Rich Man and to us the “great reversal”: My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Should we truly be worried about accumulating wealth in this world? Can you take it with you? Can you enjoy the riches of this world in the next world? If you can not take it with you while you are on this earth and then leave it, is it really that important?
Gospel (Lk 16:19-31)
At that time Jesus said to the Pharisees:
“There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus in his bosom. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.’
But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.’”
In this passage it is interesting to note that Jesus uses a name for the poor but no name for the rich man. Who was important in God’s sight? Who did he know by name? What does this say about who was actually important to God? Therefore, brothers and sisters would it not be important for us in this world to make sure that God knows our name? Do you really want to go through this life and in the end not even have God know our name?
How do we do this in the 21st century? Take an online class through Newman College or share your views on Spiritual Direction at The Catholic Talk. Remember that this is your eternal life and you need to begin to act accordingly with that premise in mind. Amen