File:Gherardi, Cristofano - Transfiguration - 1555.jpg

The Transfiguration by Gherardi (Wikimedia Commons). What must you let go of to grow closer to Christ?

 

Last week’s Gospel was about the Transfiguration of Jesus. As you recall, Jesus took Peter, James, and John up Mt. Tabor. Moses and Elijah appeared and spoke with Him about His coming Passion. Hearing the Gospel, I was struck by what it teaches us about detachment in the spiritual life.

Moses represents the Law. Elijah represents the Prophets. The Law and the Prophets together form the basis of the Old Testament.

From the good to the perfect

When Peter saw Moses and Elijah, he said, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.” He suggested building booths or tents in which the three religious figures could stay. No doubt he wanted to speak with Moses and Elijah and hear their wisdom in person.

But this was not God’s plan. God the Father spoke to the Apostles from the cloud. Then they looked up and saw Jesus standing before them alone.

The Law and the Prophets prepared the way for Jesus. But now that Jesus had come, they had to give way. They were good, but the Gospel is better. Moses and Elijah served their purpose in pointing towards Jesus. As St. Paul said, “When the perfect comes, the imperfect passes away” (1 Corinthians 13:10).

Letting go of the merely good in our lives

Like the Apostles, we need to leave behind all that is “merely good’ in order to be perfectly conformed to Christ. We cannot cling to anything or anyone but Him.

Children–and beginners in the spiritual life–have different needs than adults. Infants need milk. Adults need solid food. God weans us from the practices that nourished us in the beginning so that we can be spiritually mature.

Moving beyond the Law

As we grow, we need to let go of these things that metaphorically relate to the Law:

  • counting our merits
  • comparing ourselves with others
  • knowledge
  • meditation on Sacred Scripture

Now, obviously, we cannot give up knowledge in the sense of becoming ignorant again. We can’t start ignoring Church teaching. But we can come to recognize that God is immeasurably greater than all human knowledge. We can stop nitpicking, stop judging. We can move from a spirituality based on knowledge to one based on love.

And so with the other items in the list. We give up meditation for contemplation. We give up comparisons that in the beginning may have inspired us toward holiness, but now foster pride. We stop weighing our sins against our merits, realizing that the scale will never be balanced.

Moving beyond the Prophets

We need to let go of these things that metaphorically recall the Prophets:

  • visions, dreams, and prophesies
  • miraculous signs
  • spiritual consolations
  • ecstasies and raptures

As good as these things are in the proper place and time, they are not the goal. There are merely means to the end, which is union with Jesus. We cannot take any of these things to Heaven. If we cling to them, God will have to pry them from us in Purgatory.

St. Paul says, “Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24). Adults should not need a disciplinarian! Instead of mere teachers, we have a Bridegroom. We must “throw off everything that hinders us” from marriage to Him (Hebrews 12:1).

Let this Lent be a time for letting go!

Connie Rossini

Share with us: What are you most struggling to let go of? How can you begin to let go?

Written by Connie Rossini
Hi, I'm a Catholic writer and homeschool mother of four boys. I practice Carmelite spirituality. Check out my Books page for publications to help your whole family grow in holiness.

    9 Comments

  1. Joyrunr March 25, 2014 at 9:46 am Reply

    Christ being The Living Word, with this being so why would we give up on meditation of the Sacred Scriptures? I understand your points on all the rest but don’t understand why this was included. He is a living Person that we encounter in the Sacred Scriptures… All else BUT THIS PERSON we should abandon; which was your central point.

    • Connie Rossini March 25, 2014 at 10:30 am Reply

      Joy, that’s a great question and I think my point needs clarification. St. Teresa of Avila said that Jesus must remain central to our prayer throughout our entire spiritual lives, even in the final stages. So I don’t mean that we abandon thinking about Christ. However, meditation is work on the part of the Christian. WE read, WE think, WE speak. Our actions can only advance us so far towards Christ with ordinary grace. In the more advanced stages of spiritual growth, we need special graces. God Himself must do the work. So a soul reaches a point where she finds meditation impossible–perhaps not every time she prays, but at least sometimes. She cannot focus her mind on the Scripture passage. She cannot make images in her head. God is infusing supernatural contemplation into her soul–a prayer that is beyond concepts and images, a prayer she can never produce. If she insists on clinging to meditation, she is fighting against the Holy Spirit.

      It’s like St. Therese’s elevator image. Jesus cannot pick up and carry a toddler who is hitting and kicking Him. But if He doesn’t pick us up and carry us, we cannot make it to the higher levels of the spiritual life. So we have to be willing to leave meditation behind when God asks us to.

      Does that clarify the issue?

  2. Michelle March 27, 2014 at 6:01 am Reply

    Great post Connie.

  3. Cristina March 27, 2014 at 11:31 am Reply

    Excellent post! Thank you, Connie.

  4. Susan March 31, 2014 at 11:44 am Reply

    This is an excellent post! Very insightful. That’s a good point that sometimes we even need to give up good things if they are getting in the way of our relationship with Christ

    • Connie Rossini March 31, 2014 at 2:58 pm Reply

      Thanks, Susan. It’s a point w probably don’t think about–certainly we don’t talk about it–often enough.

Leave a Comment

Share your thoughts with us.