How does one actually grow in the Life of Grace?

How does one actually grow in the Life of Grace, toward holiness - toward sanctity - toward the perfection of Charity? It can take a long time to find trustworthy, readable information by a Catholic for other Catholics looking to learn exactly how we can grow in prayer, in communion with God and one another as is our vocation. I’ll recommend a book below.

It is interesting that this forum has “Trust Levels”, whereby in levels, or stages, a member can grow in trustworthiness in and with the Forum.

It is interesting that human persons naturally can grow toward maturity in their human nature through “levels” or the “stages” or “ages” of a human person: a fetus in the womb, an infant in the mother’s arms, a child, an adolescent, a teen, a young adult, a mature adult.

And what about the spiritual life?

St. Teresa found seven “mansions” of spiritual life possible in a growing child of God, who is growing toward the most interior home, the center in the soul where “His Majesty” dwells. This is described in her book The Interior Castle. (The book can be found, for example, on Amazon - paperback or Kindle)

St. John of the Cross describes three major “levels”, or “stages” of the interior, spiritual life, within which are two transitional stages of “Dark Nights”: a Purgative Stage, leading to a Dark Night of the Senses, leading into an Illuminative Stage, leading to a Dark Night of the Spirit, leading into a glorious transforming Unitive Stage. This path leads, that is, to the full spiritual maturity of Union of the soul with the Triune God - our holiness with His. John of the Cross describes this progression in several works, including The Ascent of Mt. Carmel. (The book can be found also, for example, on Amazon - paperback or Kindle)

The Catholic Church has this spiritual wisdom entrusted to her, for us! This wisdom is God’s intention for us!

I recommend - for a beginner in this spirituality - a contemporary book, by a Catholic layman, describing this journey of stages, specifically for Catholic laity: Link to Amazon: The Ordinary Path to Holiness. (The EWTN “Bookmark” interview with the author on this book, on his website, is HERE.)

This ought to be taught in every Catholic parish! We Catholics need to learn how to really, actually grow in holiness - to become “a saint” as God calls us. All are called to Holiness, and the perfection of Charity, as the Vatican II Council taught.

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And, lest we forget, Thomas á Kempis’ classic “The Imitation of Christ.” I have both modern translations as well as Bishop Challoner’s and I prefer his, for the more classic and sacred tone. The emptying of self allows room for the Holy Spirit to fill us.

Yes, but there is more involved than “The emptying of self allows room for the Holy Spirit to fill us.” There must be the emptying of self and the seeking for Truth, for Love, for God - that is , for making room for Him. Remember the story:

Mt 12:43 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest, but he finds none.
Mt 12:44 Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes he finds it empty, swept, and put in order.
Mt 12:45 Then he goes and brings with him seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. So shall it be also with this evil generation.”

Therefore the “three stages” of Tradition include Thomas a Kempis and many more, gathering the fullness of the wisdom that we need. Yes, the disordered love of self - unto effectively an idolatry of Self - is death for the soul. We must, at the same time as when we reject that idolatry, seek holy Truth with hearts of obedience. Then, the Holy Spirit can begin to find room within us.

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A first step. We must tread water before diving into the deep end of the pool, no?

Yes, and so the pool has three stages of depth, from shallow to moderate to deep - and boundaries to keep the children where it is shallow, and the older children to where their feet can still touch bottom, but swimming is possible. - Well, let’s not push that analogy too far!

Are you familiar with the three stages? with John of the Cross, and his “Dark Nights”? Of great importance, I believe, is the wisdom to be gained in this spiritual theology concerning the very positive empowerment of the soul, in the (Isaian) seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, and their role in the perfecting of the supernatural and infused virtues of faith, hope and holy charity. These treasures are essential to our salvation - our sanctification - our divinization.

I have TofA and JofTC and if I do not die tomorrow or the next day, I might begin reading them.

Spirituality is how much air is in your balloon. I am struggling to keep the lead out.

I have recommended a contemporary book in the OP above, written for beginners (of any age). This, from that post:

“TofA and JofTC” are well-represented and presented in this book. It’s an excellent place to start - gradually - in the “shallow end” :slightly_smiling_face:

It would be good to point out in this thread, that an understanding of at least some who have understood and written about the spiritual life, say this:
“There is no standing still in the spiritual life. One is either advancing - growing, or he is regressing - falling back.”
Perhaps this observation explains the passage in Revelation:

Rev 3:15 "'I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot!
Rev 3:16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.
Rev 3:17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

I hear in this passage a people who chose to stop “where they were” in the spiritual journey (They had satisfied God’s requirements; they had finished His minimum expectations; so now they could enjoy and advance in the pleasures of this world.). But in fact they had fallen and were falling deeper into destruction. To be tepid - lukewarm - is in fact to be “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” before God.

My point is, we need to learn how to grow precisely because if we do not, we will stagnate. But only for a moment, before we begin the descent of the lukewarm to become, before God, “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”

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