“Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.’” (John 6:67-68)
Searching for answers to life’s difficult questions can break one out of the ordinary routine and set one on a spiritual journey.
Part of my life is certainly routinized. I have many small habits in my daily routine which help organize my day and my life. I need them. Without them, I would constantly have to ask myself: “What should I do now?” These habits stabilize my life. I have tried-and-true solutions for many of life’s small challenges.
But is the Christian life characterized simply by routine? I believe not. While there are daily rituals to our Christian lives, an authentic Christian life goes beyond routine tasks (in a mundane, ordinary sense) into spiritual, intentional actions.
Habits do certainly have a role to play in the spiritual life. Thomas Aquinas defines virtue as “a habit that disposes an agent to perform its proper operation or movement” (Cf. De Virtutibus, 1). Or, more simply, virtue is a habit of doing good things well. Habits can help facilitate the spiritual life, to the extent that we develop a pattern of doing good.
However, developing good habits should not numb us to seeking greater perfection. Jesus calls us to a very high standard. He says, “I am the way,” and, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” If you want to follow Jesus (the way) and strive towards perfection, you need to operate not out of a mindless routine but with intention.
In my early adulthood, many changes in my life occurred. It was a turning point. My faith deepened, and I became more aware of it. I started asking myself questions such as: What is really important in my life? What do I want to spend my time on? What should I be focused on? Seeking answers to these difficult life questions set me on a journey that led me to the choice of following Christ with all my heart.
I have found that asking hard questions is a true part of the art of seeking God, who is Truth Himself. These questions nurture one’s search for faith. In John’s gospel cited at the beginning of this post, Jesus puts a difficult question to the disciples which calls them out of their ordinary routine and forces them to think about their faith and relationship with him. Jesus asks simply, “Do you also wish to go away?” He expects his disciples to make a decision, not simply to follow their habit of walking with him. He wants his disciples to be intentional in what they are doing. It is this reflection that leads Peter to say: “You have the words of eternal life.” We, too, need bold questions to grow in our faith.
Br. Jacek Kepinski, O.P. | Meet the Student Brothers in Formation HERE