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serb1389
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« on: February 02, 2006, 12:16:03 AM »

In my readings I have come accross a rather interesting way of looking at the progession of spiritual life.   It goes as follows:
Asceticism
Contemplation of nature
Contemplation of God
These three steps are used regularly by church fathers who would like to see the spiritual life as a progression.  They explain each section and how it applies to the spiritual life. 

My question is, the contemplation part.  How many of us really contemplate our spiritual lives?  Do we ever really look back on our lives and see God in them?  Do we strive to have moments (or days) of peace in which we can truly go over our spiritual formation, and concretely progress? 

How important is this, and how can we achieve it?  What would stop us from making this effort?  etc. 
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« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2006, 12:40:38 PM »

Well,
 IMHO it first starts with always having a rememberance of God.  One cannot be very contemplative about their spiritual life if we leave God in the background and live for our own pleasure.  Of course I am still working on this first step myself.  One thing that puzzles me is how I can tell if I am doing what is God's will and not my own.  Maybe I should be praying about most decisions I am pondering before I act.  I sometimes wish I were a monk under strict obedience so these decisions can be left to someone else. Ha.     

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« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2006, 04:24:56 AM »

My question is, the contemplation part.  How many of us really contemplate our spiritual lives?  Do we ever really look back on our lives and see God in them?  Do we strive to have moments (or days) of peace in which we can truly go over our spiritual formation, and concretely progress? 

How important is this, and how can we achieve it?  What would stop us from making this effort?  etc.

I know I spend a lot of time in contemplation. The important thing is to use the past as a tool, and not get stuck on it. Besides that, it's just a matter of making time. If one's own home is too distracting a place, a public park will usually suffice as a mini-retreat.

Of course I am still working on this first step myself.

Indeed. One temptation is to jump ahead to later steps when we have not mastered even the first. I think once a person masters the first, then the path for the second will be made clear.
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serb1389
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« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2006, 08:23:12 AM »

To the first question:

I try to use my conscious as a guide, in terms of figuring out God's will.  If you look at it all of God's 10 Commandments are straight from our conscience, or our conscience is straight from them.  If I were to steal I would feel guilty.  I use this as a barometer for where God is directing me (on a most basic level).  Obviously nothing beats a great relationship with a good spiritual Father. 

The Second question:

I totally agree.  In fact, staying in the past is a GREAT temptation and one of the hardest to avoid or get out of.  being stuck in the past can be worse than just about anything else (IMHO).  We have to strive to "use the past as a tool" and make sure that our focus is on God and not our problems, sins, etc. 

I believe it is key to find God in our lives, and that if we were to do this, we could use examples from our own lives just as often as examples from the Lives of the Saints.  It can be an awesome motivating factor to know "how did I get my job?"  or any number of things, and see God as the focus of it (because ultimately He always is). 
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