February 6, 2023

As a kid, I had a lot to learn about how my mind, emotions, body, soul and spirit interrelate for full human and spiritual flourishing. Perhaps like you, it was a lot of trial and error and a lot of help from others and God to get to good human and spiritual flourishing with ups and downs, one step forward, and sometimes two steps backward.

Full flourishing requires experientially two things: knowing we are unconditionally loved by God and receiving that love. This enables us to rise above our many weaknesses and even sins through God’s loving mercy for us. It also requires an experiential understanding that we are completely dependent upon him for everything.

In sacred Scripture, we hear Jesus say, “Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). A very simple acknowledgement of our absolute dependence upon God and his unconditional love for us opens wide the doors of our heart, mind, and will to discover each day how we can flourish through God’s daily help for full flourishing.

The deep desire we each have for full integration of mind, body and spirit is only a reflection of the intense desire God has for that very same thing because he loves us even more than we can possibly love ourselves.

We struggle as humans to fully love ourselves and be completely dependent upon God because we have disordered desires and limits but a strong desire to be self-sufficient. This can be observed from early on when toddlers become strong willed and love the words “no” and “mine.” They go headlong into adventures that can be harmful for them without understanding the consequences of such choices.

Full human and spiritual flourishing requires that our desires (sometimes called passions or emotions) be governed by reason (to ensure we do what is prudent), enlightened by faith (that which God has revealed in Scripture and Tradition as fulfilled in Jesus) and motivated by love (charity, which seeks the good of God, others and ourselves as God loves us).

As we make our way through Lent, I hope the insights offered in this month’s Bishop’s Bulletin will help you imagine how taking your next steps in being healthy in mind and body will help you to also spiritually flourish. When our mind, emotions and body are healthy, we are then more disposed and more free to receive God’s spiritual help (his grace).

That is why the Church asks us to practice the disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving so we become more free from the pleasures of our mind and body. We are then more free to receive, desire and strive for the greatest of all things as St. Paul says: “Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts” (1 Cor. 12:31).

Know of my prayers this Lent for full human and spiritual flourishing.