It is the will of God that we should leave undone what we cannot do without trouble. There is a point in the spiritual life when God does most for us when we do the least for ourselves. There are two shoals against which we may make spiritual shipwreck: self-activity and idleness. Freedom of spirit will guide us safely between these. For without interior freedom there can be no fidelity to divine grace… for this liberty is of God. As Paul writes in Romans (8:15) “For you have not received a spirit that makes you a slave to fear, but you have received the spirit of son-ship whereby we cry Abba Father.”
All that the soul can ask, and what ought surely to be granted, is to follow faithfully the invitations of grace and the impulses of God’s Spirit. If the soul is guided by the Holy Spirit, it would not do the least thing contrary to faith or the church, for we are taught inwardly by the Holy Spirit and outwardly by the holy church in the same grace.
RESPONSE: FR. PAUL ROBICHAUD, CSP
Servant of God Isaac Thomas Hecker explains some spiritual basics in today’s reflection. He writes that it may be in what we leave undone and not in what we do, that we grow in grace. To some reading Hecker this may sound confusing. After all being a Christian is an active vocation and Hecker was a very active pastor, author and evangelist. We are called to follow Jesus who and has come to redeem the world. Doesn’t that suggest that we should be busy doing this through what we do as his disciples?
Faith is a relationship with God. The Holy Spirit within us takes us to the Son who presents us to the Father. But a relationship is also a partnership. As the adopted children of the Father and the adopted brothers and sisters of Jesus we are called to work in partnership with God. God loves, forgives, heals and challenges others through in what we say and do. But like any substantial partnership, there are times when we let God act through us and there are times when we let God act without us. Learning to let go and let God act is an important lesson as we grow spiritually.
Hecker writes that there are two mistakes people make in the spiritual life: attempting to do too much or too little. The answer lies somewhere in between the two. How do we do this? Father Hecker gives us another basic teaching. Listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. If we become attentive to the Holy Spirit in our souls, then through the Spirit God will instruct us when to act and when we should not. For Hecker it is acquiring this soulful sensitivity to God’s presence in our lives that assists us in growing in faith.