The system


Do you want to be a free, moral and creative, mature person? There’s a system for that. You get it by linking to people who have lived a long life and whose understanding of life is gained through a rich variety of experience.
Or, if such a wise individual isn’t readily available, you link with a group. This is probably the best way. The group we know best and have learned to trust for the long haul is the Catholic Church. Its system is based on thousands of years of experience. In simple outline its steps for personal development are these:
First, find Jesus. He is in the Bible and in the lives of saints and some of the people you may know today. He is present in your active celebration of Mass.
Second, remember that mystery is fundamental for all of us: there is always more, always a beyond. We never capture anything fully. Humility is always appropriate.
Then remember ultimate values, or those things that naturally draw us to them: unity, truth, goodness, beauty.
Then there are the virtues that keep us aimed toward God: faith, hope, and charity, or love as it is expressed in the Gospel.
Becoming more practical, four virtues place us firmly on the road to maturity as we practice them: prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance.
Then we begin to realize and value as possessions these gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel, courage, piety, and desire for God. We call these the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
People will also notice what we call Fruits of the Holy Spirit in the way we live. They will see charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity.
We won’t be complete models of this spiritual life, and we won’t be an exhibit for any of these virtues all the time, because we are sinners. We may be stretching toward the goal but we haven’t reached it yet. So it is important always to remember number two above: we live in ultimate mystery. Be humble, admit setbacks and keep the focus on Jesus.
In our system we’ve found seven behaviors, tendencies, habits that point us the wrong way. We call them Deadly Sins because they lead away from our goal of becoming free, moral, creative, mature persons. The “deadlies” begin with pride: a solemn, heavy cloak of imperious Me and Mine overshadowing everything in life. Then there are the misdirection sins of greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth.
Finally, since our system is meant to make us free in a radical way, it has to have room for paradox, for surprises that liberate us in ways we don’t expect. In the Gospel according to Matthew (5:3-12), Jesus lays out the surprises:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after justice, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Blessed are you when they revile you and persecute you and speak evil against you falsely on my account: be glad and rejoice for your reward is very great in heaven.”
That’s it. Let this system go to work and enjoy the results.
Frank Wessling

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