Come Holy Spirit, Fill the Hearts

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful… –Prayer from Emmaus Retreat

As we pause before completing John Climacus’s final three steps of spiritual formation, the Ladder of Divine Ascent, we reflect that nowhere does he say that all we have to do is memorize a proposition found in the scripture, say we believe it, and that’s it.

Much as Jesus always commanded us to do, John teaches us to recognize a progression of evil thoughts and actions and then teaches us to overcome them. Then he teaches the habits we replace the old with.

You can love that old motorcycle with great sentimental attachment. You can believe in your heart that it will run. You can memorize all the parts so that you know the difference between a piston and a crankshaft or valve or chain or bearing. It’s not going to run until you discern the faults and fix them. Only then can you ride in the countryside with the wind blowing in your hair experiencing that feeling of freedom.

John left us with a guide to the faults we need to fix on our path of spiritual development. And he left us with tips on overcoming them.

We might study to gain knowledge. That’s not a bad thing unless it leads to pride. But the real work we do is to fill up with the spirit. It’s a matter of heart, not head.

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