Essential Spiritual Life

God, You are my God; for You I long.
For You my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for You,
like a dry, weary land without water.

Psalm 63:1-2

Essential Spiritual Life

Before Easter, our county’s Public Health Officer clarified: “A church is not an essential business under the ‘stay-well-at-home’ order for the purpose of defeating this virus.” Of course, I disagree with the tone of that order; the spiritual life is essential at all times, as essential as food. But what does it mean to say the spiritual life is essential?

Essential Bodily Nourishment

Governments on the state and county levels have classified their businesses: some are essential and others are non-essential. I understand our county’s mistake. Those that provide spiritual well-being are essential, but this is not easy to see.

We all know bodily food is essential. We can measure how much food a person needs to survive. We have all experienced weakness due to lack of food. We know that if we go without food for a certain period of time, our bodies will die.

Essential Spiritual Nourishment

The spiritual life is not so easy to measure. It is a hidden life, and the death of the spirit is often hidden as well. How can we to explain to someone who has never noticed the anxiety, sadness, weakness caused by lack of spiritual sustenance?

Compare it to trying to establish the necessity of physical exercise. While experts agree some form of physical exercise is essential, not everyone has experienced this in the same way. There’s no easy line to draw; we can’t say with scientific certainty, “You will die if you don’t walk 12 miles/week.” All we can do is to express our own experiences: “I’m so much happier if I get exercise every day!” If someone has not experienced it, however, we may have difficulty coming to an agreement.

In the same way, the spiritual life is essential. We will not immediately feel its lack. Even when we do, we don’t feel like we’re dying. We feel anxious, sad, and weak. Our tempers are short. Our hearts begin to harden.

These are not immediately measurable results. Someone who is not attentive to those experiences might think we’re making it up or exaggerating. But to let him make the orders about where the line is would be like giving a couch potato the right to determine how much exercise is necessary!


While we may disagree with the government for its mistaken classifications, in all of this we must trust the representatives of Christ’s Church.

Have you ever noticed, in apparitions of Jesus and Mary, how they revere the authority of even the lowliest churchman? When Jesus chatted with Marcel Van, He always told him to obey his spiritual director. When Mary appeared at Fatima and Garabandal, she followed the priests’ orders without question and taught the children to do the same.

When St. Faustina’s superior did not permit her follow the orders of Jesus, she declared, “I will follow Your will insofar as You will permit me to do so through Your representative. O my Jesus, I give priority to the voice of the Church over the voice with which You speak to me.” (Diary, 497) The Lord confirmed her action and praised her for it. In the same way, we must trust the voice of Christ in His Church.

Divine Mercy


Day Six of the Divine Mercy Novena

We are in the midst of the Divine Mercy Novena, a prayer requested by Jesus and encouraged by His Church. It consists in praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet for nine days, beginning on Good Friday–the day Our Lord’s Heart was pierced–and ending on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday. Through our prayers, may He bring all of this suffering world into the abode of His Most Compassionate Heart.

Jesus will surely praise us as He did St. Faustina if we, like meek and humble little children, obey the orders of His Body, the Church. Do not be afraid; He will give us all we need. We long, we thirst, we pine to be reunited with Him and each other in the Sacraments, and we offer these sufferings to Him. He will use the graces we merit to soften the hearts of those who do not long, do not thirst, and do not pine for Him. He will help them understand.

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