Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Growth in the spiritual life

A passage from Lonergan that I have never really reflected on:
"Christian development is over a long series of barriers, barriers to purification, barriers to enlightenment, barriers to loving God above all and our neighbour as ourselves. The first barrier to purification is habitual mortal sin.... The second barrier to purification is the occasional mortal sin; we have to study the occasions that give rise to temptations, to ferret out the feelings that give the temptation its attraction for us, to plan how we can evade the occasions and encourage countervailing feelings. There remain the barriers that are habitual venial sins; but now the struggle is on a new front; the campaign is essentially the same as before, for there are bad habits to be broken; but it is not so urgent; as the evil, so the risk is less. But the very slackening of urgency can give place to tepidity, and when that danger appears, we have to proceed against the barriers to enlightenment." (Lonergan, "Pope John's Intention," A Third Collection [1985] 236.)
Lonergan goes on to speak of Newman's notional and real apprehension, notional and real assent. The attainment of enlightenment, he says, is the attainment of real apprehension, real assent, and the motivation to live out what we have learnt. "It is brought about through regular and sustained meditation on what it really means to be a Christian, a real meaning to be grasped not through definitions and systems but through the living words and deeds of our Lord, our Lady, and the saints...." (236)

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