Christian Counseling Certification on Spiritual Mentoring and Spiritual Formation

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)

Virtue is a consistent and habitual quality or disposition of the soul towards a particular good. Please also review our Christian Counseling Certification

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.

Spiritual mentors can be elders, ministers, priests, confessors, or close spiritual friends who can help guide you towards God

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.

If you would like to learn more about AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification or would like to become a certified Christian Counselor, then please review the program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  For other spiritual traditions, please also review our Spiritual Counseling Certification

References

  1. https://bible.org/seriespage/8-virtues-leading-christlikeness
  2. https://www.loyolapress.com/our-catholic-faith/scripture-and-tradition/catholic-basics/catholic-beliefs-and-practices/theological-and-cardinal-virtues
  3. https://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/tic/tic05.htm
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins

 

Christian Counseling Certification Article on St Teresa and the First Mansion

St. Teresa’s Interior Castle

The first castle is the first step into meeting Christ. Many are unable to enter into this initial relationship due to the many traps of the evil one.

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.

Christian Counseling Certification Article on Pentecost and 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 grace of the Holy Spirit is essential to Christian spiritual life. Please also review our Christian Counseling Certification

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

Please also review our Christian Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional needs.

 

Christian Counseling Certification Article on Challenges of a Pastor

Ministry presents a multitude of challenges.  Pastoral care from caring for the sick, dying, as well as the grieving can strain any minister.  The time and energy it also takes to spiritually guide a flock can be demanding.

There are numerous challenges to a minister and pastor. Please also review our Christian Counseling Certification

The article, “10 common pastoral care challenges” by Thom Rainer explores ten common challenges in pastoral care and ministry.  He states,

“So, for the most part, the challenges are not the members themselves, but the capacity to meet all the pastoral needs members have. Here are how the pastors expressed ten of their greatest pastoral care challenges.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review our Christian Counseling Certification and see if it meets your goals.

Christian Counseling Certification Article on Pastoral Care of Suicide

Suicide for the longest time was considered only to be a sin of despair.  It was a stigma and received more condemnation than care.  Today, individuals who attempt suicide are treated more like victims fortunately.  Family is also given the care and love they deserve from a pastoral perspective.

Suicide is not always a sin of despair but also sometimes a mental condition. Please review our Christian Counseling Certification

The article, “SUICIDE: MOVING BEYOND CONDEMNATION TO CARE” by Elizabeth Evans states,

“Numerous faith traditions have a history of criticising suicide as a sin – and one that leads to damnation.  But some faith leaders are now working not only to offer those facing despair help in addressing the root causes of suicide but to remove the stigma that keeps so many suffering families quiet after the death of a loved one.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Christian Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.

Christian Counseling Certification Article on Raising Christian Children

Discipline and a good Christian upbringing for children is difficult in this secular society.  Christian parents must work hard to preserve the faith and also raise good, moral, and respectful children.  Discipline is important

Raising children in post Christian America is a struggle. Please also review our Christian Counseling Certification
Raising children in post Christian America is a struggle. Please also review our Christian Counseling Certification

The article, “Christian parents, you’re not alone in discipling your kids” by Lyndsey Koh states,

“In America’s post-Christian society, it can be daunting to make sure your kids have a strong foundation of faith. Today’s Generation Z kids tend to be less religious and more relativistic than the generations before them.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review our Christian Counseling Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional needs.

Christian Counseling Certification Article on Suicide

Suicide is a very stigmatizing act.  Fortunately, it is being more and more seen from a pastoral way than a condemning way.  While it can contain elements of the sin of despair, modern psychology is showing more than not, it is a mental issue revolving around a deep depression.  In essence, it is a sickness.

Suicide can be brought on by multiple issues. Most contend suicidal thoughts are more pathological than sinful. Please also review our Christian Counseling Certification
Suicide can be brought on by multiple issues. Most contend suicidal thoughts are more pathological than sinful. Please also review our Christian Counseling Certification

The article, “What does the Bible say about suicide?” by Jim Denison takes a closer and theological look at the sinful history and nature it can have but also its inherent relation to pathological state of mind.  In this, Christianity is less harsh on this “unforgivable” sin as maybe in the past.  This is not only good news for the deceased but also for the state of the mind of the family who endures this horrible cross.  The article states,

“More people die from suicide than from homicide in America. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for those aged fifteen to twenty-four and is most common among those aged sixty-five and older. Suicide rates among the elderly are highest for those who are divorced or widowed. In the last half-century, the suicide rate among adolescents and young adults has nearly tripled.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Hence a theological as well as a pastoral standard are needed when dealing with suicide and the family.  Grief Counseling, Crisis Counseling, as well as Christian Counseling are all important disciplines in helping those facing suicide or families who have been hurt by the act itself

Please also review our Christian Counseling Certification

Christian Counseling Certification and Lenten Fasting

Lent is a time of renewal and rebirth.  We enter into the desert with Christ for forty days and hope to re-emerge stronger and ready.   We die with Christ in hopes of resurrecting with him.

Part of this rebirth is fasting and prayer.  Prayer is the first step because it directs our fasting and begs for the graces to fulfill the tasks of Lent.   We commit acts of goodness and self sacrifice during Lent to strengthen our souls in our reshaping of our spiritual lives.

As Lent approaches we must prepare to spiritually renew ourselves through the cross. Like all crosses, this involves self denial and fasting. Please also review our Christian Counseling Certification
As Lent approaches we must prepare to spiritually renew ourselves through the cross. Like all crosses, this involves self denial and fasting. Please also review our Christian Counseling Certification

Fasting helps one to curb inclinations and passions.  Fasting that is self imposed has benefits in this but the greatest fasting is from above.  This is why the Church provides general fasting and days of abstinence.   The first day of Lent is a full day of fasting, while Friday, in the West, and Wednesday and Friday in the East are days of abstinence throughout the Lenten calendar.

It is critical when targeting vices in our spiritual life to utilize prayer and fasting as a way to overcome our human weaknesses.  Prayer and fasting strengthens the soul against the inclinations of the flesh and reinforces spiritual discipline.   Both personal and social fasting is key.  This is why we not only observe the Church’s Lenten rules, but also offer our own small sacrifices during Lent.

During Lent, we carry our crosses with Christ. Please also review our Christian Counseling Certification
During Lent, we carry our crosses with Christ. Please also review our Christian Counseling Certification

Ultimately our sacrifices are not just for the sole purpose of spiritual rebirth but also as an offering to Christ.  Christ gave us his life as an example of how to live the good life in a fallen world.  Lent helps us to show Christ our love and thankfulness in emulating and imitating his ways.  Through the grace of the Holy Spirit through prayer, we are able to fulfill our Lenten goals.  We must remember, our own works are fruitless before the Lord, unless done in His name and through His grace.

Please have a blessed Lent and find strength and growth in Christ through the Holy Spirit.  May this Lent also bring us not only closer to Christ, but also to our other Christian brothers and sisters through the variety of Lenten services.

Lent prepares us to walk with Christ. Christ is our ultimate example in carrying our crosses and fasting helps us give back to Christ.
Lent prepares us to walk with Christ. Christ is our ultimate example in carrying our crosses and fasting helps us give back to Christ.

Please also remember to review our Christian Counseling Certification to see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The online program is best for counselors and clergy who wish to utilize Christ in their counseling.

Christian Counseling Certification Article on the Epiphany

Great article on the Epiphany.  Christians celebrate this solemn feast because it celebrates the worship and divinity of the Christ child by the magi.

The coming of the magi. Please also review our Christian Counseling Certification
The coming of the magi. Please also review our Christian Counseling Certification

The article, “What do Christians really celebrate at Epiphany?” by Mark Woods takes a closer look at this feast.  The article states,

“This Sunday churches in the Western tradition will be marking Epiphany, traditionally the end of the Christmas season. It commemorates the visit of the Magi to the infant (or toddler) Jesus in Bethlehem, a story usually folded into the Christmas carol service but actually separated in time by as much as a couple of years.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review our Christian Counseling Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional needs.

Christian Counseling Certification Article on Examination of Conscience

To know oneself is critical in any form of life, but especially spiritually life.  Knowing our weaknesses and being able to examine ourselves critically and honestly is important to becoming closer to God.  Examining our conscience is how we acknowledge our faults before God, express sorrow, confess them and work to avoid those sins and faults in the future.   God’s grace is there for all to change a sinful life into a virtuous life.  Please also review our Christian Counseling Certification

Knowing our faults and sins is key to spiritual life. Please also review our Christian Counseling Certification
Knowing our faults and sins is key to spiritual life. Please also review our Christian Counseling Certification

The article, Examination of conscience, states

“Every evening, make an “examination of conscience”, like a prayer, to determine if it was “the Spirit of God or the spirit of the world” that prompted us throughout the day. This is a decisive action in our “spiritual battle” which leads us to “understand His heart” and the meaning of Christ.”

To read the entire article please click here

Please also review our Christian Counseling Certification