Spiritual Battle

In The Book of Her Life, St. Teresa of Jesus says that when she began to pray, it helped her a lot to think about the beauty of creation. Even just looking at the flowers in the chapel helped her pray, because she saw God in all of creation. The gift of science, one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, consists precisely in this: in allowing you to see the hand of God in all creation.

When you contemplate creation, you come to understand the necessity of the existence of a creator, a good being who has decided to create everything we see, everything that is beautiful. It opens your heart to the praise of God, the King and Lord of creation, who has made everything to show you his love and allows you to understand many realities of the faith.

This summer, I had the opportunity to go on a lot of hikes in the mountains, contemplating truly beautiful landscapes in nature. It is amazing to think that, since human beings are the culmination of creation, God has created everything for us. As we gaze upon the beauty of creation and admire it, we understand that God loves us, cares for us, protects us and desires our good.

On one of the hikes, we had to climb to the top of a peak. It took us four hours to get there, and the hike was quite hard! The whole path was a climb through the forest, fighting against heat and tiredness.

On the way up, we had been talking about the struggle for virtue. Many of us were thinking about the spiritual battle. When a soul decides to seek holiness with intensity and radicality for the love of Jesus Christ, when it fights with God's grace to live a virtuous life, it also must face numerous challenges, and even spiritual exhaustion.

As I was saying, the climb to the peak was exhausting. We had to stop from time to time because we got tired quickly. It took us hours to get there! However, the descent was much easier. It took us half as long and we did not have to make as much of an effort. 

Doesn't the same thing happen in the spiritual life? Attaining virtue is difficult, but it’s easy to let yourself be dragged down by temptation. Almost without realizing it, you stop fighting and you lose all the ground you had gained. 

On the hike, we had to move forward despite the bushes that were almost covering the path. We literally had to push the branches away with our hands in order to pass through. Many of us ended up with small wounds because the branches kept scraping our legs. Those who had their legs covered by pants, however, had no problem. This reminded me of sin. We often put ourselves in occasions of sin. Although we try to remove sin from our lives, it leaves a mark on our soul and body. However, souls that protect themselves with a serious spiritual life and clothe themselves with the grace of the Sacraments truly prevent sin from affecting and damaging their soul.

Although the climb was difficult, some of the girls were able to get up much easier thanks to the help of a walking stick. Afterwards, we reflected on how the same thing happens in the spiritual life. Fighting alone is much more difficult than fighting accompanied and supported by a good spiritual guide. A spiritual guide gives you good advice, directs you towards the goal, and prevents you from tripping or falling over a stone on the way.

Thank God, in the struggle, we are never alone; the Lord never abandons us!

Another thing that happened to us was that several of us ended up with sunburns. When we were at the top of the mountain, it was cold and the sun wasn't strong; sometimes we could not even see it. However, its presence was very real, and little by little, it was burning our skin. God acts in the same way. Sometimes we don't feel His presence; it seems that He is not there, that He has abandoned us. But little by little, if we persevere in His presence, He marks our life with His grace and sustains us with His warmth.

Finally, on certain occasions, especially on the way up, when the heat was more suffocating, a light breeze would come and relieve our fatigue. We were so grateful for that! This is the breath of the Holy Spirit, who comes to our aid when we call upon Him as a comforter in battle.

The spiritual life is a battle. It is tiring and requires much strength and courage, but you are not alone! God encourages you and accompanies you. The Virgin Mary and the saints come to your aid. And when you succeed, when you reach the goal and enjoy the view, you will understand that it is always worth fighting. Our goal is Heaven!