Prayer opens up the vast interior life in our souls.
Between pandemic isolation and the onset of winter in the northern hemisphere, we’ve been spending a lot of time indoors. Our world is smaller, and we find ourselves trapped between four walls. The days seem long to those who are working or living alone. Here we are, then, facing ourselves, and facing this question that naturally arises: What do we know about our own interior life?
Our interior life is like a “secret garden,” an intimate shelter where we can withdraw from the gaze of others. It’s like a refuge or escape from the problems of the outside world.
Interior life is dynamic, first of all, with the dynamism proper to life itself and to every living being. On a physical level, we human beings, as living things, receive from outside of us the oxygen, sun, water, and food that will contribute to our growth, and which give us the necessary strength to act on the world around us.
Similarly, our inner life has a psychological dynamism. Events produce impressions on us that resonate in our imagination and memory, and which provoke reactions from us. A death saddens us, and an injustice arouses anger in us. We do not remain neutral in the face of events.
How can we nourish our interior life?
Who is the “inner man” of whom St. Paul speaks? Can we say we truly know ourselves completely when we’ve named our emotions and inventoried our projects? Far from it: our spiritual and moral interior life is infinite. It is the source from which the best of ourselves springs.
Interior life consists precisely in the capacity we have to welcome and experience the truth, to savor it, to love it, to be nourished by it. It’s the very place where actions are born and matured—actions which can transform us profoundly, and which can powerfully transform our world.
Our inner life is like a spring that brings water from the depths of the earth. It’s not strictly contained within us; quite the contrary! The richer and deeper it is, the greater the power of action it confers, and the greater the strength of commitment it gives us. Many people have seen great decisions born and strengthened in the solitude of a retreat or a solitary pilgrimage.
Here are four ways we can nurture our interior life so it can bear more fruit …
1Aim for profundity
We need to go beyond immediate impressions, emotions and feelings, beyond our spontaneous reactions of “I like/don’t like this” which we can be so quick to express. Instead, let’s take the time to reach a true understanding of moral issues.
2Aim for the heights
We must fight against inertia, the internal lethargy that makes us content with mediocrity. Aiming for the heights means letting our desires for conversion, justice, and forgiveness speak and act within us. It means choosing to put effort into life, which alone can lead to greatness of soul.
3Aim for depth
A book has depth of meaning when it lends itself to rereading and to meditation. It’s the same for our inner life.
The richness of our inner life is the result of a long and patient mental accumulation. This process includes reflecting on experiences, slowly “digesting” discoveries, and pondering encounters in the light of God. This depth and richness is formed in silence, recollection and meditation.
4Aim for breadth
When we do the steps above, our inner horizons become wider. We gain the ability to embrace new experiences, to understand unfamiliar ideas and to integrate them into a larger picture. This broadens our minds and hearts.
These things, then, are what strengthen the “inner man,” to whom St. Paul says:
I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:18-19)
Our interior life, even when we are trapped within the four walls of our homes, is infinite, for the soul is the place of an intimate encounter with the infinity of God.
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