Ask a Carmelite Sister…

Dear Sister,

At least once a year I see a doctor and check out my physical health. Is there any kind of a spiritual health exam that would help me check out my spiritual health?

Dear Friend,

Thank you very much for you most timely question.  The answer, of course, is an old-fashioned phrase. Perhaps you have heard of it – the examination of conscience. There are many ways to examine your conscience and, I might add, form a right conscience.

The following is a handy check list to check out your spiritual health. It is very simple and so powerful!

The Galatians 5 Spiritual Health Exam:

List A

List B

Immoral Loving
Impure Joyful
Sensual Peaceful
Idolatry Patient
Sorcerer Kind
Hateful, Hostile Good, Decent, Integrity
Fighting Faithful
Jealous Gentle
Outbursts of Anger Self-control
Divisive, Critical
Carousing (excessive partying)

Which list describes your life?  The lists above are not exhaustive. Every fault or sin has a virtue which can combat it. The idea is to practice the virtue, little by little, day by day until you have formed a habit. List A are bad habits which are vices. List B are good habits which are virtues. Notice yourself at home, at work, at play and just notice which list is predominant in your life. “Life by the yard can be hard, but inch by inch it is a cinch.”

Galatians 5 states:

“For you were called to freedom, brethren. Do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.”

* * * * *

I should point out that the Galatians 5 Spiritual Health Exam also works very effectively with teens.

Thank you for your question and until next time,

Sister Laus Gloriae, O.C.D.

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