A while back, I wrote an article outlining some spiritual analogies to common activities that can illustrate our journey of salvation. Here are a few more activities applied analogically to our spiritual lives.
Climbing Mount Everest
Mount Everest is the tallest mountain on the surface of the earth. People either have the desire to climb it with all of their heart, or they just acknowledge its existence and go on about their everyday lives. The climbers of Mount Everest have to travel a long way to Nepal to start their journey. But before that, they have to spend a lot of time getting into shape. They must invest in a lot of equipment, like tents, thermal gear, hiking boots, walking sticks, oxygen equipment, and food. Then they must hire a Sherpa, a guide who not only knows the way with its crevices and pitfalls, but also knows your language. Failure to do any of these many things will likely result in death.
Our lives are a lot like that. First we have to acknowledge and desire the existence of salvation. A lot of people ignore this fact, and just go about their daily lives, earning money, watching TV, and raising families, as if there was no afterlife. But ignorance of heaven and hell doesn’t mean they don’t exist. It just means they will become apparent to us after death, when it is too late to change our destination. Our salvation too, is a very long journey, starting with our Baptism as infants (for cradle Catholics), and hopefully ending with the Anointing of the Sick. Getting into spiritual shape means that we must spend a lot of time in prayer (oxygen for the soul), frequenting the sacraments and daily Mass, showing acts of kindness to our neighbors (even our enemies!), and acknowledging our TOTAL reliance on Christ.
Our physical equipment needs, unlike the Mount Everest climbers, are really simple – A rosary, a Bible, and a Catechism are all recommended support items. Getting a guide to lead us into heaven is easy as well, because every saint in heaven and our guardian angel is standing by to guide us to the Lord. Our mother, Mary, who is totally and perfectly united with the Holy Spirit, is an especially good guide. For sure, she knows the way, she can speak to the language of our heart, and after two thousand years of being mankind’s spiritual mother, she knows every pitfall and danger to our eternal salvation that there is.
For those who say that these guides, or saints, are “dead,” Luke 20:38 says that God is the God of the LIVING, not the dead. In other words, dead in the body does not equal dead in the soul. Revelation 5:8 and Revelation 8:3 tell us that the saints and angels present our prayers to God in the form of sweet smelling incense. Some say that it is forbidden to talk to the dead, as if that were necromancy (summoning the dead to obtain hidden knowledge), but nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus talked to the dead, when in raising Lazarus, he said “Lazarus, come forth!” and when he talked with Moses and Elijah about his upcoming exodus from earth during the Transfiguration. Surely, Jesus did not sin in talking to the dead. St. Peter also talked to the dead when he raised up the dead disciple Tabitha by saying “Tabitha, rise.”
Walking the Dog
Those of us who are dog lovers really enjoy taking our dogs for walks. Nothing excites my terrier more than when she sees me put on my hiking boots and then asking her if she wants to go for a walk. I have to keep her on a leash, though, or else she will start chasing deer and get lost in the woods. Even worse, if she wasn’t on a leash, she might get run over by a car and die. My dog has no idea on where we are going on our walk, or how to find our way home. I do all the navigating for her. She just totally trusts in me to take care of this.
God also enjoys it when we walk with him, both in worship and in performing the good works in which he wants us to walk. Being in uniformity with God’s will should excite us all, because that means we are on the fast track to salvation. Thankfully, God keeps us on his leash as well, which consists of the sacraments, the Ten Commandments, and the truths of the Sermon on the Mount. If we are true to His Word, then we don’t have to worry about getting lost in this very secular society. It’s only when we voluntarily cast off his leash and try to go it alone in the world that we are in danger of losing our soul. And like my dog’s trusting me to get home safely, if we trust in God TOTALLY, then He will also lead us safely through the events in our life, and He will see to it that we reach our real home in heaven safe and sound.
Crossing an Ocean
It is not an easy thing to cross an ocean. One has to make sure that he is a passenger in a large ship with abundant fuel. This vessel must know the safest route to its final destination. It must have ample lifeboats in case of an emergency. The ship has to have abundant food and drinking water aboard. There must be competent navigators sailing with you who have made the trip before, so as not to get lost at sea. There must be radios on board, for communication. Attention must be paid to the weather patterns, in case of hurricanes or other massive storms. Doctors and nurses must be available in case of a medical emergency. All of the support staff on the ship must make it their main focus to accomplish the goal of getting to their destination safely. If they are distracted in this, or if they get drunk and abandon their mission for even a second, it could spell disaster. In this hemisphere, looking up to the North Star will help in navigating safely into the harbor, should the equipment fail.
Getting to heaven is very similar to this. We cannot make it there on our own. We have to join the Church that Jesus Himself started (the Catholic Church). Why? Because it is very large, universal in fact, and its fuel is the grace of God, which is very abundant. Noah’s Ark is a symbol of the Church, safely getting Noah and his family through the flood. The Church with its catechism, its sacraments, and its interpretation of scripture, provides us with the safest route to heaven. Its lifeboats in case of an emergency are the sacraments of Confession and the Anointing of the Sick, which forgive sins. The Church provides all who are in the state of grace with the finest food, the Eucharist, which is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. The Church also provides streams of living water in the person of the Holy Spirit, to guide and heal us. The Pope and the Bishops guide their flock along the safest way, which is the teaching authority of the magisterium. Our communication system is known as prayer, which consists of adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, petition, and meditation. Our doctors and nurses are the saints in heaven who have gone before us, and who will heal us with their intercessory prayers to Jesus.
Of course, if anyone has been paying attention to the news lately, it seems that many of our priests, bishops, and Cardinals are very distracted from the sole goal of salvation. Child abuse, stealing from the collection plate, coverups, and lavish lifestyles of some of these ordained ministers have certainly distracted them and their flock from the love of Christ. Many people drop out of the Church because of these wolves in sheep’s clothing. Only those who are true to the faith, and who look upward to the Star of the Sea, the Blessed Virgin Mary, will make it safely to harbor. It’s obvious that the religious who fall away from the Church’s mission of salvation for mankind and who embrace modernism, socialism, and hedonism do NOT have Mary for their mother. If they did, she would see to it that none of these shenanigans would ever take place.
Writing a Novel
Writing a good novel requires that one must have a good plan for a plot in mind before the ink hits the paper, and with a beginning chapter that piques the interest of the reader. Otherwise, the remainder of the book will never get read. It must set the table for the remaining chapters. The writer must have lots of interesting characters in the book, that readers can both identify with and enjoy. Most great novels mix the happy with the sad. The middle portion of the novel must have great dialogue, interplay between very different character personalities, love and adventure themes, and it must make the reader hunger for more. The end of the story is where all of the story twists and turns reveal the outcome of the initial plot, i.e., the identity of the murderer, the location of the buried treasure, or the marriage of two former enemies who have come to realize that they were made for each other. In most novels, the heroes live happily ever after.
God also has a plan for us, even before we were born. Our beginning chapter consists of growing up with our parents and our grandparents, siblings, aunts, and uncles. For sure, all of these family members usually have many different and varied personalities, ranging from introvert/extrovert, drunk/sober, serious/comical, and monied/poor. The dialogue between these various family members can make us either happy or sad. This first phase in our life prepares for the middle of our life, where we grow up, go to college, get a job, marry, have kids, etc. During this phase in our lives, there are many happy events, such as births, weddings and baptisms. The sad is mixed in with this, with funerals of parents and other relatives, marriage problems, and money problems. At the end our life, we will also discover the identities of true friends, and who are real enemies are. Our buried treasure, which consists of all of our faith and good works done in the name of Jesus, will be our great comfort on our deathbed. And the bridegroom, Jesus, who we disdained as an enemy during parts of our life through willful sin, will come to receive us into our heavenly home, if we repent and are truly sorry for our sins.
Going to the Grocery Store
When we go to the grocery store, we buy a lot of food and drink, and sometimes magazines and household goods. Some of the food we buy is healthy, and some is junk food. Some of the magazines are great, and some are trash. One thing is certain, though, and that is we cannot get out of the store until we pay for it all at the checkout.
Life is like that. Some of our activities are healthy, like exercising, being with family, and going on vacation. Other stuff we do, like looking at porn and cheating on our taxes, is not healthy for our soul. And like in the grocery store, we must pay for it all, with suffering instead of money, before we checkout of this life. The good news is that Jesus has paid the debt for our sin. The bad news is that purgatory may await us before we enter heaven, if we haven’t fully repented and atoned for our sins. So pay now, while the rates are low. After death, the rates go up!