The redemption by Christ is referred to in Theology as Soteriology. Jesus’ death on the cross was the ultimate and perfect sacrifice which gave humanity a second change and a rebirth. It opened the founts of heaven once again. The blood of Christ energized the channels of grace to humanity. It reconnected the life of humanity with the Creator.
The historical incident, where the perfect man represented humanity as its high Priest, as a perfect sacrifice, being God as well, allowed humanity to repay the infinite debt of the sin of Adam. Where Adam said no, Christ said yes. Jesus hence offered reparation for our sins and brought humanity salvation.
The article, “5 Ways the Death of Jesus Saves You” by Lesli White looks at how the death of Jesus plays a pivotal role in our salvation. She states,
“To be saved, or born again is to accept the plan of salvation that Jesus offers us. In order to understand salvation, it’s imperative that we understand the death and resurrection of Christ which points to our salvation. The son of God was made human, and during His earthly life, he lived a perfect life, and died not because He wanted to but because we needed salvation”
Hence the sacrifice of Christ was a necessity. A sacrifice was needed. One that was perfect and offered atonement for the infinite debt of sin. Only a person could represent the offending party, but only a God could cover the infinite price. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity becoming man, or as scripture says, the Word became Flesh was the moment in history when God and man became unified in one person. Two natures that existed in perfect harmony.
Through the Incarnation, humanity was open to redemption. It is through Christ, and his mother Mary’s yes, that Adam and Eve’s curse was removed from the human race. Through the fonts of Baptism which are fueled through the Blood of Christ, original sin would be removed from the world one person at a time. Through one’s faith realized through Baptism, all are born again in Christ and put on Christ.
If you would like to learn more about theology or would like to learn how to become a Christian Counselor, then please review our Christian Counseling Training program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.
Grief in its deepest times can force us to question our very existence. We can question why and how one’s life has lost so much. We can question if there is a God, or a divine being. We can question our own moral code and way of living. Grief has the strongest ability to shake one to his or her very core.
Existentialism has for years questioned the how and why of existence. It has mourned over the fear of what is beyond the grave and what truly matters in this life. When torn by grief, many Christians may look feel this philosophy and its emptiness matches their current emotional state. The thought of nothingness and the fact that acts of loss or violence are merely random can in some ways maybe soothe the conflict within. The conflict that sees a contradiction between evil acts and a good God.
The temptation of existentialism to create one’s own code of existence and live by it alone may be strong in grief. It may be a way to get back at God and to create one’s own subjective reality based on one’s own existence. Or as existentialists proclaim, to bravely put aside pre-ordained moral paradigms and to venture into the unknown and to bravely create one’s own existence. It may seem attractive to dismiss all cares when in the pit of despair.
However, God is a loving father. He knows our grief. His Son, Jesus Christ, and his holy Mother Mary, all experienced this deep grief. Christ on the cross even in his deepest agony, questioned the Father, and mournfully cried out, ” My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me”.
We all come across grief and its darkness. We face the existential question and all the unknowns behind it. We question how evil can exist while a good God rules, and we can question why God would “punish” a loyal servant. We can mourn like Job but ultimately like Job not allow our own emptiness to lead us astray. We can follow in Jesus, who while mourning and isolated, still remained loyal to the father.
Grief disrupts life. It disrupts the very existence of our day to day plans. One needs to be able to understand how to incorporate grief and loss into one’s existential narrative without dismissing God or his plan. It is the most difficult cross but one Christ himself did not deny himself. He should serve as our example when we fall into the depth of agony and loss.
Tests can be difficult times. Grief is a test. Grief is a time when our loyalty to God can be tested at the highest level. We can question our existence or give it to God. It is ultimately our choice.
Spirituality is very lacking in the modern world. Excess narcissistic behaviors and materialism are abound. Spirituality is key in leveling one’s child and balancing him or her to the true reality. A healthy balance is important. The child needs to understand what is most important.
The article, “7 Ways Parents Can Help Foster Healthy Spirituality with Their Child” by Lindsay Elizabeth discusses how to instill spirituality in our children. She states,
“Parents spend time, money, and effort to make sure that their children are brought up to the best of their abilities, but, as a society, are we lacking the influence of spirituality in their young lives?”
Please also review both our Spiritual as well as Christian Spiritual Counseling Programs and see if they match your academic, spiritual and professional needs. In the meantime, realize that part of parenting is instilling good morals and spiritual values in our children. Neglect of a child spiritually is as negligent as any other temporal need.
A strong spiritual life involves prayer, detachment from the world and union with God. The world attempts to block this union through illusions and distractions. Grace from the Holy Spirit helps produce virtue within our lives that lead towards better habits in developing union with God.
Virtue is a good quality, or internal disposition towards good. It is habitual in nature and becomes part of one’s character. It guides one’s actions and leads one to a closer spiritual life with God. Virtue rejects the vices of the world and focuses on the good. In many cases, virtue are supernatural in nature or moral. Some virtues deal with one’s relationship with God while others direct one in proper relationship with others. (1)
The three theological virtues are faith, hope and love and direct one to God. The four moral virtues are prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude. While virtue can exist naturally in humanity, grace alone infuses them at a supernaturally level and allows one to utilize virtue towards the action of good. Without grace, one cannot earn virtuous merit. So while, one may cultivate virtue in one’s daily lives, it is only through co-operation with the grace of the Holy Spirit, that such endeavors can ever produce the fruit of a healthy spiritual life. (2)
Hence, it is critical to in spiritual life to cultivate virtue. Virtue and its natural disposition and habitual nature, allows the person to maintain a constant relationship with God and a healthy relationship with one’s neighbor. Grace is essential in feeding virtue. In this, one must cooperate with grace and indulge in spiritual practices that allow virtue to grow. One’s spiritual garden can become neglected without the Word of God, the sacramental life, and daily prayer.
The devil and the world have a way of eroding one’s spiritual garden with a variety of weeds and drought when one does not cooperate with grace and feed the soul the many graces the Holy Spirit affords the soul. Too many times, individuals become distracted from what matters most and the temporal illusions of this world and their false promises of happiness, lead good Christians away from God.
St Teresa of Avila refers to this in and out of one’s spiritual life as the first mansion with God. In this mansion, the individual discovers God and realizes there is more to this world than temporal things. While this is only an invitation to spiritual life, it is an essential mindset. In this mindset, the individual begins to seek out God. So many individuals walk and in and out of this mansion, regaining fervor only to lose it months later. Many spiritually are in this mud of the temporal world, escaping, only again to fall. (3)
This constant tug of the war of the soul between the world and God is a natural state of humanity’s broken nature. The scars of Original Sin, lead one to one’s lower flesh. The will identifies lesser goods as superior and in some cases, bad consciences identify evil ends as good. Without prayer, virtue and grace, the soul sputters into bad habits, or vices. The soul falls to the seven capital sins, of pride, envy, anger, lust, greed, gluttony, and sloth. (4)
In some cases, the spiritual war that leaves individuals in between the first and second mansions of spiritual union is a back and forth conflict, until one master emerges victorious over dominion of the soul. In this struggle, the soul eventually chooses a life of virtue or vice, God or the world, good or evil.
While Christ the Good Shepherd, will always run after the stray lamb, the lamb still must wish to be found. In this, Christian Counselors, pastors, spiritual advisers and confessors find the most common soul. This type of soul is neither truly saintly or evil, but is inherently good, but lost. These souls wish entrance into the first mansion of spiritual life, but falter. Virtue is far from a habit, prayer life is inconsistent, and the love of the world is still too high of a priority. Yet, the desire to be saved remains.
It is important in developing spiritual development in one’s spiritual children to help direct these souls to sources of grace and better habits. A confessor or spiritual mentor must be patient with the conflict. Habits, especially bad habits are difficult to break and one must gradually move from them and seek God. More frequent prayer, scripture and for Catholics, sacramental participation are essential to opening oneself to the graces needed to convert to a more spiritual orientated life.
As a spiritual mentor, one does not merely direct the soul to better choices and habits, but also teaches the soul how to better discern. Forming a good conscience that is based on the absolute moral law of God. One’s conscience must reflect the Ten Commandments and mirror virtue. It cannot be subjective, or worldly, but must be aligned firmly with God’s law. Only through this can a conscience be of any service to a soul and help it find a more healthy and balanced spiritual life.
What spiritual directors, mentors and pastors must also present is the image of God as a loving father. In this, God’s love is so intense, so passionate, that he seeks out the soul. Even beyond this analogy, God’s love is so strong, it even bypasses any of our most intense relationships. God is so passionate, He awaits our call, our time. It pleases Him so greatly to receive even the smallest token of our love or even our smallest effort to do good. As Christ taught, the Father rewards ten fold for even the soul’s smallest endeavors.
However, there is a very thin line a spiritual director must walk with a troubled soul when preaching God’s mercy and love. While it is infinite, one cannot over emphasize it at the expense of God’s justice. God demands change from the soul. Christ Himself forgave the sinners but also instructed them to sin no more. While the soul may falter, it still must look towards perfection. It must try despite the struggle and understand that change is necessary for union and salvation. Only a spiritual director who knows the soul in question can truly discern if mercy or justice needs to be emphasized at a given time.
In conclusion, spiritual life and union with God is a conscious decision. It is habitual and its ultimate end is God for the sake of loving Him. Grace fuels the soul’s broken ability to enter into this union. Prayer is the language and virtue is the map. The soul is fed through the Word of God and the sacraments in maintaining a healthy relationship. Through these tools given to the soul by God and the direction of a spiritual adviser, a soul is able to enter beyond the initial mansions and begin to enter into true union with God in the later stages of spiritual life.
I find the First Mansions St. Teresa talks about interesting because I believe they are the most difficult to enter as one begins a spiritual life, with all the distractions in the world that keep us from fully entering into a life with God. St. Teresa describes snakes, vipers and poisonous creatures, which could be analogous with technology, secularism, and the constant barrage of noise created by television and radio.
It is heartening to know that God has created within us, this beautiful castle that is ours to explore if we make the conscious choice to do so. It does not come without being vigilant to our own failures and constantly striving to do good so as not to offend God. He created us in his image and so we have the ability, love and support we need to become One with Him. Why then, do we not do what we need to do in order to obey him?
We have fallen short of the task God has set before us – to know ourselves through Him. We don’t take the time to understand and know God, so we do not understand ourselves. We are like zombies walking through life – without life. We don’t understand that God is an ever-lasting river flowing through us. We thirst for Him, but through our own ineptness, we don’t know that we thirst and we wouldn’t know how to quench that thirst even if we did. Only through Him can we hope to have life.
In our darkness we cannot see the beauty that lies within us. We look outside of ourselves to satisfy the need that resides within us, but it cannot be filled by outside influences, people or things. Only God can feed our souls and nourish us. The food of which I am speaking is in Scripture and in praising God for his goodness, for the blessings He grants us, and for the mercy He shows us.
By understanding ourselves, through God’s eyes, we see where we fall short and are able to enter the Mansion with hope and a will to succeed. Through prayer and meditation and an understanding of who we are praying to, we come to know God’s will for us and we strive to release ourselves from the ways of the world in order to please Him. This is not a one-time event. We must continually come into communion with Him so we are prepared as we move through the First Mansion and into the other mansions.
Unless we have the understanding that our soul belongs to God, and we always strive to please Him, we can, through our ignorance, fall into the darkness of mortal sin. We believe we are separated from God and because we are distant from Him, it gives the devil pleasure to do evil works through us. We must be constantly vigilant and discerning that our thoughts and actions are pleasing to God, and in all humility realize that He is our one and only source of good.
Through self-knowledge and our desire to know God, we realize our true nature and strive more every day to be in alignment with that. We put aside worldly concerns, even for just a little while, and commune with God. We come back to our true source and we live better lives in accordance with God’s will for us.
By Teresa Martens
“It is necessary in every state of life for our help to come from God.
May His Majesty grant us this through His mercy. Amen.”
~ St. Teresa of Avila ~
Please also review our Christian Counseling Certification Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study. After completing the four core courses, one can apply for a four year certification. Most individuals who apply for this certification are counselors, ministers or pastoral care givers. If you would like to learn more, then please review.
Also please review our Meditation Instructor Program. It is also online and independent study and focuses on mindfullness meditation and other stress reducing strategies in meditation. Various schools of meditation are identified and reviewed as well.
Spiritual leaders are not perfect. In the news we see corruption at all levels of spiritual leaders. On a smaller scale, spiritual leaders may be sincere but many have imperfections. We can come into conflict with various spiritual leaders over numerous issues in the life of the church. How we approach these differences and know how to react are key. Sometimes we may need to submit to their ideals other times they may be very wrong and need admonished but in a way of charity and respect.
The article, “The right way to disagree with spiritual elders” by Michael Brown looks at how we can with respect, disagree and work with spiritual elders. He states,
“I write these words as an elder in the Body, as a father in the faith, and as one who despises abusive and heavy-handed leadership. So, before I talk about how to disagree with a spiritual elder, allow me to speak plainly about the role of Church leaders.”
Respect is very important whenever we come into disagreement with our spiritual elders. It is essential we discuss the error or issue in a charitable, private and respectful way. Please also review our Christian Counseling Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.
Good article on discipleship and what it is not. So many times, we may feel or think we are following in the steps of Christ but good discipleship is guided by the Holy Spirit and imitates Christ in everything.
The article, “What discipleship isn’t” by Greg Garner looks at discipleship as not just a moment in life but a continued vocation.
Discipleship is a lifelong, till death do us part relationship between the Creator and His creation… between a Savior and those whom he has saved. Unfortunately, no Easy Button exists. Maturity in Christ is a slow, oftentimes painful process that requires the blazing hot fire of God’s refinery.
Spiritual gifts are given to everyone. Each person has their own unique gifts for their particular calling. Together, persons share their gifts for the building of the mystical Body of Christ. This is why the Holy Spirit shares unique talents with everyone. These talents are essential for the building of the faith.
The article, “Stewarding spiritual gifts” by Diana Myers reviews how important it is to steward our spiritual gifts and share them with the church and for own spiritual salvation. She states,
“FCA believes that every believer has a calling. And in order to fulfill our calling to the utmost, God has provided each of us with a unique set of spiritual gifts. Knowing and leveraging our spiritual gifts enables us to be more effective members of the body of Christ.”
With such importance, it is critical we all cultivate our own spiritual gifts and help utilize them for the greater honor and glory to God. Please also review our Christian Counseling Training Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.
Christian life is powered through the graces of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was promised to the apostles after Christ ascended into heaven. The Holy Spirit first manifested after Christ’s departure on Pentecost where he appeared like tongues of fire upon the them.
The apostles spoke in tongues and performed many miracles on Pentecost. They also spiritually themselves were revitalized. The gifts of the Spirit manifested upon them and gave them the courage and bravery to preach the Gospel. Pentecost was the first time Confirmation was experienced in the church. Through the reception of the Spirit, the apostles became soldiers for Christ.
The amazing power of the Holy Spirit is still experienced today in the Church. Believers who receive the Spirit are able to develop their particular talents for the betterment of the Church. These graces are open to the believer after Baptism. Through the blood of Christ, the Holy Spirit’s ability to communicate grace to baptized souls is once again realized. While confirmation is a reception of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit is communicating grace to believers well before.
The Holy Spirit is able to communicate life giving grace to the soul once Baptism occurs. This new life is referred to as sanctifying grace. Yet through Confirmation, new graces are received. Various sacramental graces are also given to the soul by the Holy Spirit throughout the course of one’s spiritual life, as well as multiple spiritual gifts.
These freely given gifts which are never earned but given to us through Christ’s death help individuals. This actual grace helps individuals to choose good and do good. So the Holy Spirit gives to the believer numerous types of grace. Sanctifying grace to give life, sacramental grace to help us grow and actual grace to help us with everyday situations.
These graces help promote virtue within the life of the soul. Some virtues are supernaturally given, while other virtues are moral virtues that are elevated through grace. Faith, hope and love are the three theological virtues which allow the Christian soul to first experience the life of God. Faith helps one believe, while hope helps one have the certainty that the graces needed for salvation will be given. Charity or love is the greatest of the three virtues. Love allows us to experience the love of God himself and share it with our neighbor. Love lasts forever, even unto eternity. (1)
The Holy Spirit also gives to the soul a variety of other virtues. The moral virtues help the soul deal with moral problems of everyday life. Prudence helps the soul make wise decisions. Fortitude helps the soul deal with spiritual adversity. Temperance helps the soul regulate the passions of the body. Finally, Justice helps the soul to treat all others fairly.
The Holy Spirit also gives a variety of gifts to souls. The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit help the soul guide itself and others to God. Wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fear of the Lord, fortitude and piety all help Christian better help others. (2)
It is of interest to note that counsel is one of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Christian Counselors can play a pivotal role with their gift in helping others cultivate the gifts of the spirit. With guidance and wisdom, a Christian Counselor can help others overcome doubt and fear and become better Christians.
Cultivating and forming spiritual life is based on the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit fuels the Christian life. Through prayer, meditation and the sacraments, one can better cultivate the Christian virtues. Christian Counselors can play the role as Christian Mentors in this way. Spiritual advisers or Christian Mentors can help younger and developing Christians develop their spiritual talents.
Christian Counselors can also play a role with the Holy Spirit through guidance. Spiritual formation is not just about developing one’s spiritual gifts but it also about spiritual growth in God. Christians need to understand the inner calls of God. The consolations and desolations of Christian life with its numerous peaks and valleys are experiences that many need help navigating. Learning to spiritually discern good and evil and true vocation are key elements of spiritual growth. Again, a Christian Counselor, pastor, mentor, or spiritual adviser can play a big role in helping and aiding others in determining their spiritual path.
The Holy Spirit is the ultimate guide in this path. Through the grace of the Holy Spirit, one is able to overcome all things. It is impossible without the guidance and grace of the Holy Spirit to achieve salvation. This is key in understanding. Christ’s death on the cross opened the gates of Heaven and its many graces, but we need to be open to these free gifts. Pentecost was the first outpouring of the Spirit, but it continues to this day.
The American Institute of Health Care Professionals offers a certification for those in ministry. The Spiritual Christian Counseling program is a faith based program that helps train ministers and Christian mentors in counseling from a Christian perspective. The program is online and open to qualified to professionals. The courses are all independent study, online and open enrollment. One then has the freedom to work at his or her own pace. This is great for working professionals who need time to continue in their ministry but also wish to progress in spiritual academics.
After completing the seven required courses, one can then apply for a four year certification in Spiritual Christian Counseling. One can renew every four years with five hundred hours of clinical experience and fifty hours of continuing education.
Christian Counseling is a calling and vocation. This calling and the spiritual talents that come with it can be further developed with the certification program in Christian Counseling at AIHCP. If you are interested in learning more or would like to become a certified Christian Counselor then please review the program and see if it matches your academic and professional needs and goals.
In the meantime, the Holy Spirit is the essential element in all spiritual formation. It starts and ends with the grace of the Holy Spirit who constantly feeds souls the necessary graces to work towards Christian perfection and salvation. God the Father is our creator, Jesus Christ, the Logos, is our Redeemer and the Holy Spirit, is the sanctifier
Let us all praise and worship our Triune God, who also found in the Third Person, known as the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is an essential part of Christian Life. This is why Christ sent Him to the apostles. The Holy Spirit sanctifies what Christ has redeemed. He is the fountain of graces that Christ has earned on the cross and the fuel of all sacramental life.
The article, “Pope Francis on Pentecost: ‘Christian life unravels’ without the Holy Spirit” by Hannah Brockaus states,
“Without the gifts of the Holy Spirit, Christians lack that which animates them and gives them internal life and harmony, Pope Francis said on Pentecost. “Without the Spirit, our Christian life unravels, lacking the love that brings everything together,” Pope Francis said at Mass in St Peter’s Square on June 9.”
The Holy Spirit is indeed the source of grace and infuser of virtue. To read the entire article, please click here