by Fr Richard Heilman | February 23, 2020 3:23 PM
On the Sunday before Lent, Jesus challenges us to leave behind a base and brute level of existence and break through to the “Higher Life.” So, do not “lower the bar” and simply do what the tax collectors and pagans do, but live the “higher life” as genuine children of God (See HERE).
Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote about this “Higher Life” …
Christ’s reason for taking upon Himself a human nature was to pay for sin by death on the cross and to bring us a higher life … This higher life which is divine, distinct from the human, is called grace, because it is gratis or a free gift of God …
Man may live at three different levels: the sensate, the intellectual, and the divine. These may be likened to a three-story house.
The sensate level, or the first floor, represents those who deny any other reality except the pleasures that come from the flesh. Their house is rather poorly furnished and is capable of giving intermittent thrills which quickly dry up. The occupant of this first floor is not interested in being told of higher levels of existence; in fact, he may even deny their existence.
On the second floor, there is the intellectual level of existence, that of the scientist, the historian, the journalist, the humanist; the man who has brought to a peak all of the powers of human reason and human will. This is a much more comfortable kind of existence, and far more satisfying to the human spirit. Those on the second floor may think their floor is “a closed universe,” regarding as superstitious those who desire a higher form of life.
But there is actually a third floor which is the floor of grace by which the human heart is illumined by truths which reason cannot know; by which the will is strengthened by a power quite beyond all psychological aids, and the heart is entranced with the love which never fails; which gives a peace that cannot be found on the two lower levels …
The world, therefore, is divided into the ‘once born’ and the ‘twice born’: between the sons of the old Adam, and the sons of the new Adam, Christ; between the unregenerate and the regenerate. There is a real inequality in the world. There are ‘superior’ and ‘inferior’ peoples, but the basis of distinction is not color, race, nationality, or wealth. The superior people of the earth are the supermen, the God-men; the inferior people are those who have been called to that superior state but, as yet, have not embraced it.
Boil everything down, and we see that this is at the heart of the battle today. While we are called to be “Supermen/God-men,” the “influencers” of our culture are pulling us down to that base and brute level of existence. These “influencers,” known as the “ruling class,” are actually the “inferior people” who dwell on the first two floors, who believe and promote that we are nothing more than another animal species. The media, Hollywood, TV, universities, public schools, theater, the arts, literature — they relentlessly promote the false gods of sexual hedonism and radical narcissism. “If it feels good, just do it.” This is the “law of animals.”
Under the power of supernatural grace, we are called to lift ourselves up, along with the entire world, into the “higher life” of the principals, morals, ethics, values, and virtues of God that raises every society out of darkness and chaos into the light of truth and peace. President Ronald Reagan once famously stated, “We maintain the peace through our strength; weakness only invites aggression.” Spiritual warfare is about our resolve to become strong in God’s supernatural power; the only power capable of “shining out” the dark and aggressive satanic forces of evil (Ephesians 6:10-12).
Okay, then this begs the question: “How are we best suited to receive this supernatural grace?”
The word “Lent” actually translates to “Spring.” Springtime is when farmers, after a cold Winter, set out to prepare for another “planting season.” How farmers prepare the soil acts as an excellent analogy for how we must prepare the “soul” to receive the seed of faith – belief in the supernatural power of God – and allow it to break open (germinate) in order to reach its fullest potential … how we become “Supermen/God-men” in the power of grace.
Recall the Parable of the Sower:
Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown (Matthew 13:3-8).
Using the soil preparation analogy of farming, the following are best practices of an authentically strong Catholic. If you obey Christ and His Church 100% (remain loyal), and practice the following, you will be strong in God’s supernatural grace, and you will live in peace.
NB: We have been talking about a “higher life” or a “superior life.” Once you see this as a way to, pridefully, count yourself as “better than others,” grace will leave you in that moment. No, we must see it as a way to “inspire others” to want this “higher life” for them too.
Now we are ready to receive the seed of God’s life found in the Most Holy Eucharist, the greatest gift ever given to man. Now we are ready to say our life is not our own for, like St. Paul, we “become Christ” for others:
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20)
Now that seed is able to germinate; break open and reach for its greatest potential, bearing the Fruit of the Holy Spirit:
“Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23)
Under the power of supernatural grace, be extravagant with this fruit. Let others be shocked by your lavish love, exaggerated joy, deep peace, etc. (See Fruit of the Holy Spirit above). This kind of “flamboyant fruit” is what sets your light on a lamp stand for all to see, and to inspire souls to come out of the cold, dark world into the “higher life.”
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