by Sister Elise Cholewinski
In a book that I recently finished reading the author makes the distinction between the term “spiritual experience” and the term “spiritual awakening”. He explains a spiritual experience as a one-time event involving a sudden change. It can be compared to a person walking into a dark room and turning on the light switch. He describes a spiritual awakening as a gradual change. It’s like walking into a dark room and turning on the dimmer switch. A spiritual awakening eventually leads to a spiritual transformation.
In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus invites a man to give all his possessions to the poor and become a disciple. Later Jesus promises a reward to all those who leave family and home for the sake of the Gospel.
I thought I had lived the Gospel. When I entered religious life I left my family, my boyfriend, my teaching position, my bank account, and many of my clothes and other possessions. I truly wanted to follow Jesus. It was a one-time experience of letting go. However, as time went on, I realized a deeper call. Was I willing to let go of painful childhood memories that I had dragged into adulthood? Was I willing to let go of resentments that I carried from confrontations in my ministry? How possessive was I of my gifts and my time? Did I recognize the poor in the person right in front of me?
Living today’s Gospel is like turning on the dimmer switch. We gradually are enlightened to recognize that the poor are always with us, and that we are always on a journey that requires a process of letting go of what we would like to possess. How will we respond to this wake-up call? Do we really desire to be spiritually transformed?
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Thanks Sister Elise for the most thoughtful and inspiring reflection. -- Millie
Just a note of appreciation to Sister Elise for her beautiful reflection. She has inspired me to use a few of her thoughts in my weekend homily. God's Blessings to all the Dear Sisters & staff. -- Fr. Bill Jacobs
I read and prayed with delight Sr. Elise’s distinction of spiritual experience and spiritual awakening. Using the metaphor of “dimmer effect” of a gradual turning to the Lord really struck me, as I look at my own religious transformation. Her questions for self-reflection were right on point.
In the Gospel, we hear the disciples pleading, “Then who can be saved?” “Who can stand?”- is possible for God, for all things are possible: even the lifting up of our broken bodies and souls, lifted up and freed gradually of our burdens, and freed of the “weights”we can’t release alone. So, we welcome the One who transforms us with His “dimmer light” in the darkness. Thanks, Sr. Elise! -- Sr. Anne Dorice DeFebbo, osf