Orthopathy: Developing the Interior Life

[This is a response to Tony’s post: Orthopathy: Right Passions. Other responses are at the bottom]

Tony did a great job with his post and Chad did a great job on defining the Catholic and Orthodox perspective, so I would highly suggest reading their articles for more information (links at the bottom).

As Chad points out, it is important to understand that orthodoxy informs orthopraxy (Orthopraxy: A Critique of Oversimplified Theology), which develops orthopathy. The development of the interior life is imperative, and it is important to know that this will be deeply purgative (purification) and penitential (sacrificial). This process is different based on the specific spirituality and charism being developed, but each has the common goal of developing the internal life which benefits the Church and the world. Here are a couple examples of the main Catholic spiritualities, but there are many more.

  • Benedictines (est. 529 A.D.): Focus on Scripture – St. Benedict, St. Scholastica, St. Gregory the Great, St. Romuald, etc.
    • Hence, brethren, if we wish to reach the greatest height of humility, and speedily to arrive at that heavenly exaltation to which ascent is made in the present life by humility, then, mounting by our actions, we must erect the ladder that appeared to Jacob in his dream, by means of which angels were shown to him ascending and descending (see Gn 28:12). Without a doubt, we understand this ascending and descending to be nothing else but that we descend by pride and ascend by humility.” — Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter VI
  • Dominicans (est. 1216 A.D.): Focus on Intellect –  St. Dominic, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Catherine of Sienna, etc.
    • A man who governs his passions is master of his world. We must either command them or be enslaved by them. It is better to be a hammer than an anvil.” — St. Dominic
  • Franciscans (est. 1209 A.D.): Focus on Service – St. Francis of Assisi, St. Clare of Assisi, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Bonaventure, St. Padre Pio, etc.
    • We adore you Most Holy Lord Jesus Christ, here and in all of your churches throughout the world and we bless you, because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world.” — St. Francis of Assisi
  • Jesuits (est. 1534 A.D.): Focus on Asceticism – St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, Pope Francis I, etc.
    • Receive, Lord, all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. You have given me all that I have, all that I am, and I surrender all to your divine will, that you dispose of me. Give me only your love and your grace. With this I am rich enough, and I have no more to ask.” — St. Ignatius Loyola
  • Opus Dei (est. 1928 A.D.): Focus on Mysticism – St. JoseMaria Escriva
    • “In order to love and serve God, it is not necessary to do extraordinary things. Christ asks all men without exception to be perfect as his heavenly Father is perfect (see Mt 5:48). For the great majority of men, to be holy consists of sanctifying their work, to sanctify themselves in their work, to sanctify others with work, and also to find God on the road of their life.” — St. Josemaria Escriva
  • Carmelites (est. 1155 A.D.): Focus on Mysticism – St. Teresa of Ávila, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Jesus of the Andes, etc.
    • “Interior detachment, silence, solitude, the desire for spiritual progress, and insight into mystical experiences.”

Charisms, as defined by the Catechism (Article 799-801), is:

Whether extraordinary or simple and humble, charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of men, and to the needs of the world.

Charisms are to be accepted with gratitude by the person who receives them and by all members of the Church as well. They are a wonderfully rich grace for the apostolic vitality and for the holiness of the entire Body of Christ, provided they really are genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit and are used in full conformity with authentic promptings of this same Spirit, that is, in keeping with charity, the true measure of all charisms.

It is in this sense that discernment of charisms is always necessary. No charism is exempt from being referred and submitted to the Church’s shepherds. “Their office [is] not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to what is good,” so that all the diverse and complementary charisms work together “for the common good.”

With the above in mind, it is important for each person to determine, if possible, with the aid of a spiritual director, what spirituality best suits their personality and temperament. Some of us, like myself, tend toward the intellect and logic, others prefer emotive spiritualities, mystical spiritualities, etc. Once this is determined, then the individual can begin the long and, at times, arduous process of formation. One other note should be considered, while we each have a tendency toward one spirituality, it is important that we engage the other forms as well. There are some truths that are more easily expressed, understood, and/or practiced in one form of spirituality than others.

As Catholics, we have various types of prayers and methodologies of prayer to orient our dispositions mentally, physically, and spiritually. Here are some examples:

  • The Rosary: The purpose of the Rosary is to help the Christian to contemplate the mysteries of the life of Christ. Prayers utilized in the rosary are: The Apostles Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary, O My Jesus (Fatima Prayer), Glory Be, Hail, and Holy Queen.
    • Monday & Saturday: Joyful Mysteries
      • The Annunciation
      • The Visitation
      • The Nativity
      • The Presentation
      • The Finding of Jesus in the Temple
    • Tuesday & Friday: Sorrowful Mysteries
      • The Agony in the Garden
      • The Scourging at the Pillar
      • The Crowing with Thorns
      • The Carrying of the Cross
      • The Crucifixion
    • Wednesday & Sunday: Glorious Mysteries
      • The Resurrection
      • The Ascension
      • The Descent of the Holy Spirit
      • The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
      • The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
    • Thursday: Luminous Mysteries
      • The Baptism in the Jordan
      • The Wedding at Cana
      • The Proclamation fo the Kingdom
      • The Transfiguration
      • The Institution of the Eucharist
  • Divine Mercy Chaplet: A prayer, which uses the Rosary beads and focuses upon the divine mercy of God for the world. It was given through St. Faustina in the early 1900’s, and focuses on these words, “Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.”
  • Liturgy of the Hours (Breviary): This is a spiritual discipline that focuses upon scripture reading, intercessions, hymns, and prayer throughout the day. The laity are encouraged to participate, but all Catholic priests are bound, by their priestly promises, to pray the Liturgy of the Hours five times per day. Here is a quote from Ven. Abp. Fulton Sheen on the Breviary:

“If laborare est orare [work is to pray]then is it not sometimes true of the breviary that orare est laborare [prayer is to work]?” (PG. 144)

The breviary is not a personal prayer; it is an official prayer and therefore is weighted down “with the burden of the Churches.” And until we realize that we are vocalizing the prayer of the Church, will we understand both its beauty and its burden? (PG. 145)

If the breviary be approached as a work, as a wrestling with God, as an intercession on the cross, as something intended to bring us not consolation but struggle, we shall eventually learn to enjoy the battle and turn it to the glory of God” (PG. 145)

Aids to the breviary: (1) Pray it in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, (2) Connect psalms to today (suffering to Church, kingly psalms to Christ, etc), (3) Often appeal to the Holy Spirit during the recitation, (4) Offer certain hours for specific intentions, (5) Don’t do anything else while praying it.

The purgative and penitential process of developing the interior life requires deep intentional discipline, which forces the individual to deny the will. Just a Chad said, this process isn’t just about denying the negative vices in our life, but it’s also about sacrificing to good and beautiful things. Don’t take this to an ad absurdum state. It’s not a process of masochism, but it’s the denial of good things in our lives (food, drink, sex, entertainment, etc) so that we learn to appreciate the blessings that were given. For example, during Lent (40-days prior to Easter), many people think that we are supposed to give up bad things in life. In reality, we should sacrifice something good, and add something good.

Last year, I gave up the unnecessary use of all electronics and technology and committed to praying the Liturgy of the Hours every day. I’ll tell you what… giving up the unnecessary use of electronics freed up about 7-hours of time in my day for reading, prayer, socializing, and other beautiful things, but it was extremely difficult to break the habit of reaching for my phone or logging onto social media. As a result of Lent, I have a healthier attachment to electronics and technology, and I have continued praying the Breviary daily.

Here are the fasting and abstinence commitments that all Catholics are required to participate in through the year:

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.

For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onwards.

Members of the Eastern Catholic Churches are to observe the particular law of their own sui iuris [of one’s own right] Church. This means that Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Rites Churches, who realign with the Catholic Church, the Patriarch of that rite has the authority to implement and follow their own liturgical rights and laws, as deemed by canon law. Here is a list of the Eastern and Oriental Rite Catholic Churches:

  • Alexandrian Rite:
    • Coptic, Ethiopian, Eritrean
  • Armenian Rite:
    • Armenian
  • Byzantine Rite:
    • Albanian, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Croatian and Serbian, Greek, Hungarian, Italo-Albanian, Macedonian, Melkite, Romanian, Russian, Ruthenian, Slovak, Ukranian
  • Antiochian Rites:
    • East Syriac Rite:
      • Chaldean, Syro-Malabar
    • West Syriac Rite:
      • Maronite, Syriac, Syro-Malankara

Below, is a sermon from Saint Augustine, which I found very informative and helpful in understanding what it is to purge our negative passions and sacrifice, in healthy ways, our positive desires. This sermon is directed towards pastors, but is applicable to all people.

From a sermon on Pastors by Saint Augustine, bishop (Sermo 46, 10-11: CCL 41, 536-538)

Prepare your soul for temptation

You have already been told about the wicked things shepherds desire. Let us now consider what they neglect. You have failed to strengthen what was weak, to heal what was sick, and to bind up what was injured, that is, what was broken. You did not call back the straying sheep, nor seek out the lost. What was strong you have destroyed. Yes, you have cut it down and killed it. The sheep is weak, that is to say, its heart is weak, and so, incautious and unprepared, it may give in to temptations.

The negligent shepherd fails to say to the believer: My son, come to the service of God, stand fast in fear and in righteousness, and prepare your soul for temptation. A shepherd who does say this strengthens the one who is weak and makes him strong. Such a believer will then not hope for the prosperity of this world. For if he has been taught to hope for worldly gain, he will be corrupted by prosperity. When adversity’comes, he will be wounded or perhaps destroyed.

The builder who builds in such manner is not building the believer on a rock but upon sand. But the rock was Christ. Christians must imitate Christ’s sufferings, not set their hearts on pleasures. He who is weak will be strengthened when told: “Yes, expect the temptations of this world, but the Lord will deliver you from them all if your heart has not abandoned him. For it was to strengthen your heart that he came to suffer and die, came to be spit upon and crowned with thornes, came to be accused of shameful things, yes, came to be fastened to the wood of the cross. All these things he did for you, and you did nothing. He did them not for himself, but for you.”

But what sort of shepherds are they who for fear of giving offense not only fail to prepare the sheep for the temptatoins that threaten, but even promise them worldy happiness? God himself made no such promise to this world. On the contrary, God foretold hardship upon harship in this world until the end of time. And you want the Christian to be exempt from these troubles? Precisely because he is a Christian, he is destined to suffer more in this world.

For the Apostle says: All who desire to live a holy life in Christ will suffer persecution. But you, shepherd, see what is yours and not what is Christ’s, you disregard what the Apostle says: All who want to live a holy life in Christ will suffer persecution. You say instead: “If you live a holy life in Christ, all good things will be yours ion abundance. If you do not have children, you will embrace and nourish all men, and none of them shall die.” Is this the way you build up the believer? Take note of what you are doing and where you are placing him. You have built him on sand. THe rains will come, the river will overflow and rush in , the winds will blow, and the eleements will dash against that house of yours. It will fall, and its ruin will be great.

Lift him up from the sand and put him on the rock. Let him be in Christ if you wish him to be a Christian. Let him turn his thoughts to sufferings, however unworthy they may be in comparison to Christ’s. Let him center his attention on Christ, who was without sin, and yet made restitution for what he had not done. Let him consider Scripture, which says to him: He chastises every son whom he acknowledges. Let him prepare to be chastised, or else not seek to be acknowledged as a son.

Book suggestions on the topic of developing the interior life:

Ubi Caritas Est Vera, Deus Ibi Est.


Chad’s response to Tony: Orthopathy – the struggle with our passions

Rhys’ (Guest – Orthodox/Counselor) response to Tony: Orthopathy, Therapy and Integrative Neuroscience

Shea’s (Guest – Orthodox) response to Tony: Coming Soon

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