REFLECTION: Developing piety PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 07 July 2011 14:37

This is a concern for all of us. Though at bottom we are a religious being, since we have an innate yearning for God—whatever and whoever that may be for us—we oftentimes get aborted in developing this relationship with him, because we don’t go all the way in developing piety.
We easily get stranded somewhere. It could be because of laziness, or disordinate attachments to self and things, or an impoverished life of prayer and sacrifice, or a neglected effort to cultivate virtues, etc. Many are the factors and causes that prevent us from developing piety.
Yet one fundamental cause for this arrested or stunted spiritual growth is the lack of proper understanding of the pivotal roles of the practices of piety that we need to do.
Especially these days when we are constantly barraged by exhilarating commercial images and messages, we find it increasingly hard to appreciate the value of these pious practices that require grace and a certain kind of attitude and outlook.

For some, these practices of piety just get in the way in the pursuit of their plans, ambitions, projects. For others, these practices have fallen to the category of the meaningless, the time-wasters and the useless.

There certainly is a crying need for a basic catechesis on piety. If just understood well, this virtue ought to command not only respect from us, but also a sense of duty and obligation. It actually gives meaning and substance to our life.

These practices that foster our sense of piety can cover a lot of things: prayer, sacrifice or mortification, recourse to the sacraments like confession, Holy Mass and communion, visit to the Blessed Sacrament, rosary, examination of conscience, spiritual reading, etc.

They should correspond to all the different aspects and needs of our spiritual life as it impacts on our daily activities and concerns.
They can be described as guideposts in our journey of life full of challenges, problems, pressures and other confusing elements. Or they can offer us the needed respites in our activities, giving us moments to recharge ourselves spiritually so we can maintain a supernatural outlook in life.

They are like home bases in our pilgrimage of life where we can recover our spiritual and moral strength. There we can have God in a more direct and intimate condition. There God makes himself available to us, while in our work God expects us to look for him.

They are supposed to be vital organic parts of our day that comprise mostly of mundane activities that need to be sanctified and offered to God and to others. Like meals and our sleep, they are supposed to be availed of by us in a most natural and regular way.

We should just flow into them, since in the end all our activities should be oriented toward the ultimate goal of our life, and that is worship of God. These practices should not be considered alien to our daily routine.

This is the task we have to do—developing an attitude of relating everything to God by letting all our activities to lead us to these practices. We just have to find a way, with God’s grace, to cultivate a spiritual hunger or urge for these practices.

If sin and moral evil just do not die by natural causes, neither do piety and a spiritual and supernatural outlook in life just flower by natural causes. We need God’s grace for this, and our unrelenting and ever creative correspondence.

This is precisely the challenge we face these days. Even many of those who are supposed to be close and dedicated to God—priests, nuns and other religious and consecrated persons—find it hard to make these pious practices an integral part of their day. Many still find it awkward to do them.

What is needed is a certain plan, much like a regimen to which many of us willingly submit when we work out our physical fitness, so that a working and fruitful piety would really take root in our life.
So, in the beginning, much like little children, we need to be initiated into this kind of lifestyle, often forcing ourselves a little and submitting ourselves to some experts—our confessors and spiritual directors—so that the seeds of piety can really grow to maturity.

We have to go from the fundamental to the more complex levels of spirituality, from the amateur to the professional, from the beginner’s stage to the veteran’s, until we reach what St. Paul once described as the “fullness of God” to which we are destined. --FR. ROY CIMAGALA