In today’s world, it is not uncommon to make a plan, a plan of success. In the spiritual life, this is also important. In fact, in the spiritual life, developing a plan for holiness is more important, for our fullness of life here and our eternal destiny is at stake. One woman who I have written a lot about, Venerable Concepcion Cabrera, developed the “chain of love” as a sequence of 14 aspects of holiness for herself and the members of the Five Works of the Cross to consider on a daily basis. She charges us to be systematic in our pursuit of holiness. For the next few posts, I”m going to share about developing a personalized plan for holiness. We do it at the gym, to get physically fit. We can use these same skills to grow our spiritual muscles: to stay closer to God and more loving towards others.
“The ”Chain of Love”describes 14 rules for the spiritual life that we all can benefit from considering. While a rule conjures up ideas of the “have to”s” of the spiritual life, rules really are just a description of certain boundaries to respect. In the spiritual life, rules or better, parameters help us know where we are aiming. For people living in the world, for lay people especially, we need to be intentional; we need to formulate a plan for we don’t have anyone ringing a bell for us signifying that it is time for prayer or service.
The “Chain of Love” describes the characteristics of holiness. The underlying theme is how to become a prayerful person, a person guided from within and able to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to love others, even those who hurt us or present us with a Cross. The first rule or boundary of the “Chain of Love” is to be intentional with the virtues or good habits of soul and action. Christ told Venerable Concepcion that, “Above all, the virtues of humility, purity and sacrifice are particularly important.”
If we compare ourselves to a small stream or brook in the woods, we can understand humility as the virtue or disposition that clears a path, that empties us to receive the flow of grace. For the brook, humility is the channel for the stream to flow. Purity relates to the cleanness or clarity of our souls/ our spiritual vision. With the stream, purity denotes how sweet, and clear the water is. Sacrifice or self-offering love shows us how free we are to love and extend ourselves for others. Sacrifice is the current or flow of the stream.
Consider your own habits of soul, of the parameters that guide your life. How free are you to offer yourself for the salvation of others? How pure is your vision towards others and how empty are you to receive the inspirations of the Holy Spirit? This week write 1-2 parameters that could help funnel you towards the virtues of humility, purity, and sacrifice. I find praying with the Litany of Humility really helps orient the “flow of my heart.” ~ Mary