DISCERNMENT ARTICLES

Climbing the mountain

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Becoming a mountain-climber is not a one-time event. You don’t just “go climb a mountain” without ever having done it before. It takes knowledge, hours of practice, patience and perseverance. It’s hard work!

But what compels a man to climb a mountain? If he’s never been to the top, how does he know what it feels like? What knowledge does he have of the spectacular sight which awaits him at the peak? Where does he gain practical knowledge – how to place a chock, the correct knots to tie?

He listens to an experienced climber, an advocate. He can’t just say, “I’m going to make the effort, persevere, and then I’ll be a great mountain-climber.” He has to open himself up to being formed as a climber, to receive the gift of knowledge from someone who wants to help him.

You’ve heard the analogy that prayer is like climbing a mountain. It’s even in Sacred Scripture in a literal sense: “He went up a mountain to pray” (Mk 6:46). It makes sense – after all, prayer also takes knowledge, practice, patience and perseverance. It’s hard work! But it is worthwhile. This is how we become saints, the whole point of the Christian life. Union with God is the spectacular view at the mountain-top!

Fortunately, we have an Advocate in holiness, Someone Who wants to help us to understand the spectacular beauty of climbing to the heights, and Who will help us to reach them.

Who is the Holy Spirit?

We receive the Holy Spirit’s presence in the Sacraments. At baptism and confirmation, He comes to anoint us as God’s own, separate from the world. His Presence is renewed and strengthened each time we receive the Eucharist or absolution.

Our relationship with God doesn’t end at the Sacramental moments – it begins there! The Holy Spirit, present in us from the Sacraments, works as our Advocate (which literally means “He who is called to one’s side”), drawing us to a life of deeper communion with our Creator.

He is at our side:

  • Informing us: revealing the Truth to us in our prayer, study, and work
  • Hearing our prayers and helping us to pray better
  • Strengthening and consoling so that we can be strong against temptation

How do I better listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit?

How do you become a better climber? By continuing to be informed, by practicing, by experience.

Similarly, to “climb the mountain” of holiness—to become a saint—you need to continue being informed by the Holy Spirit, practice praying and living virtuously, and gain experience in being who God wants you to be. As you become more attuned to His promptings, He will inform your prayer and influence your actions.

To begin becoming a closer friend of God, you need to open yourself to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Here are some practical ways:

  • Sacraments – Frequent reception of Holy Communion and Penance transforms the soul to be more docile to the Holy Spirit. As you live more in Christ, He will be able to work more in you to be influenced by His Spirit.
  • Prayer – Spending time with God can only help a man to know Him better. Sit quietly every day in His presence and you will become great friends.
  • Study – Read the Scriptures, the Saints, the Catechism; God works best on the material you give Him.
  • Work – Whatever work you have – as a student, your job, keeping up your home, volunteering at your parish – offer it to God as a means of transforming the world through you.
  • Sacrifice – Allow God to be more in control by surrendering to Him your own will and allowing Him to conform you to His image. The more you are like Christ, the more you will be able to be influenced and motivated by the Holy Spirit.

What does this have to do with my vocation?

Everything! There are different paths when climbing mountains. And there are different paths when climbing God’s mountain. Fortunately, He knows the best way for you, and will help you know what it is and how to climb it effectively.

Ask yourself the question: “Do I really want to see the spectacular view at the peak? Do I want to become holy? To give myself to God in whatever vocation He has planned for me?” Open yourself up to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and climb the mountain!