The passion to pursue our hopes and dreams is often what makes life worth living. People who embrace the art of living well and cultivate the attitudes and dispositions to live out this pursuit are often the people that make good friends and family. They shine with the intensity of one who has found the pearl of great price, and, setting aside all the trivial things of this world, falls head long into the chase of something that requires maximum attention, focus, and effort.

Often, people lack the energy to seek the good, true, and beautiful because they have become comfortable with mediocrity. I do not mean that everyone must strive to be famous or rich or any tangible external worldly goods. However, I mean that people often get stuck in ruts in which they no longer are thrilled and excited by the idea of growth, the idea of being transformed into something more than their current self. Instead of moving forward, they get stuck and fail to take up the Cross of Christian maturity. They fail to realize that in avoiding the suffering, they also avoid the prize.

The Catholic tradition has a well-developed understanding of what Christian maturation looks like. You may have heard of the distinction of three ages (the purgative, illuminative, and unitive). This vision of Christian formation teaches us that transformation involves much more than simply adapting a set of characteristics and behaviors which are demonstrated by the saints. No, instead the Church fathers have explained that our goal is nothing short of God himself. Communion does not mean fellowship in the superficial sense of two people occupying a similar location, but rather a profound interpenetration in which we participate in God’s divine life.

As we enter into this mystery, we soon discover that the Holy Spirit was the primary agent in our life all along. We discover that our desire, our zeal, and our efforts all required the inspiration and assistance of God’s grace and that it was our Lord all along who was leading the way. Transformation is about gaining a sensitivity and awareness to God’s activity in our lives and then learning to cooperate with that activity. Our growth is not about our solitary effort, but rather learning to surrender to God working within.

Today, let us pray for the grace to let God work within us. Let us work to remove the obstacles that prevent the Holy Spirit from bringing us the healing and peace that our Lord longs to give mindful that this path of sanctification is long and takes time and patience.