As Lent rolls around again – and with it, the first-year anniversary of my Rite of Election – I find it apt to reflect on spiritual health. Now, in terms of the other levels of health one can have, I have been pretty physically healthy over the last few months (praise God!), my mental health and anxiety has been mostly stable, and emotionally I have hardly in my life been as happy as I am at the moment, in spite of the stress of work.
But have I been spiritually healthy?
First instinct – be that my disparaging mind or the voice of God – says no, loudly and clearly. I am a sinner and sometimes I am not as humbled or penitent of the fact. I can count the sins I commit every day, and sometimes my sincerity is lacking when I ask Him for forgiveness. I try to pray to some extent every day and to read a page of the Catechism every day, but I fail often as more than weekly, and sometimes through my own mind, saying I can’t be bothered.
These thoughts of forfeiting God’s attention for living in the moment have haunted the Christian throughout time. Wherever there has been Christianity, there has been the Devil in the temptation, sometimes of Sloth – and sometimes of giving us a happiness that we think we do not need the Lord by our side.
You see, it is so easy to forget God when one is having a good time. I don’t mean the act of going out and, for instance, indulging ourselves on substances and activities (though the stoic may argue that we offend God with our pleasurable sin), but in the emotional resonance of having a good time: being happy.
When we’re happy, one may argue, we have no need of petitionary prayer. We have nothing for which to ask God. Why pray when all one would be saying to God is thank you and praise you?
Well, that exactly. For starters, God appreciates it when we acknowledge that He is behind the source of our happinesses – He is happy that we, His children, are happy, and He will always be happy when we thank Him for even the small joys. God is worthy of our praise, regardless of how we are feeling in the transitive moment.
Too, there are always things for which to pray to God. It is easy to slip into the mindset that we can only pray to God when we need something, but actually God’s creation may be suffering elsewhere. It is always worthwhile to extend prayers to God for the needs of others, be they friends, family, the old lady who lives down the street – or those on the other side of the world suffering famine and tragic loss. We will always need to pray for our souls and others’. In the same vein, the human will always be the imperfect sinner, so it is best to pray for forgiveness even if one does not know what sin exactly has committed today.
However, I understand that this is easier said than done. I have been trying to say grace before my main meal every day, but I’ve found my memory so lost in the day’s activities and the people I have seen to remember to say grace.
How can we find, or remember to talk to, God in those giddy-positive and happy moments in our lives? How, my question is, can we stay spiritually healthy and aware when we are living in the moment and enjoying it?
It is the little things, I think. Little moments of quiet one can seize when companions have left or popped into the next room. That little thank you prayer to God after a moment of success. I find that statues and tokens in the house help me remember to think of God as I bustle around my busy life.
Because even the simple act of giving Him thought – acknowledging that He is the Master of all life and time – is a start towards keeping Him in mind in whatever we may do.
With every day that I consider my spiritual health and that I may have strayed from God’s plan for me, I am in the mere act replenishing my spiritual health. With this in mind, I am thankful for Lent, thankful for Jesus’ sacrifice, and thankful that God knows exactly what the plan for my life is. I believe that the happiness I feel is a gift from God, rather than a Devil’s temptation, and so I try to keep my mind turned Heavenward for His sake.