Spiritual Food-A Reflection from Bishop Barron

07-28-2019Pastor's LetterRev. Gregory B. Wilson, VF

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ – Please enjoy this excerpt from Bishop Robert Barron at wordonfire.org, which he wrote after spending several days in the hospital unable to move or eat very much. God bless! – Father Wilson

“Without food, the body quickly collapses; without spiritual food, the soul atrophies. It really is as simple as that. Though materialists of all stripes want to deny it, there is a dimension of the human person that goes beyond the merely physical, a dynamism that connects him or her with God. Classically, this link to the eternal is called the soul. …

“What the soul requires for nourishment is the divine life or what the spiritual masters call “grace.” It is of this sustenance that Jesus speaks in John 6: “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life.” Most people are at least [a little bit] aware of the soul and its hunger, but they feed it with insufficient food: wealth, pleasure, power, and honor. All of these are good in themselves, but none of them is designed to satisfy the longing of the soul. And this is precisely why some of the wealthiest, most famous, and accomplished people in our society are dying of spiritual starvation.

“So where and how do we find the divine life? First, I would suggest, through prayer. The soul wants to pray every day, to speak to God and to listen to him. So we should spend time before the Blessed Sacrament, pray the rosary, do the Stations of the Cross, read the Bible in a meditative spirit, confess our sins, and above all, go to Mass. A second way in which we encounter grace is through serious spiritual reading. One of the principal marks of an engaged Catholic is the faithful reading of spiritual and theological books. Most of us fill our minds with junk; but the mind, the soul, wants to be filled with the lofty things of God. Why have so many Catholic bookstores faded away? Because Catholics have stopped taking spiritual reading seriously. A third way to feed the soul is to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. If you are spiritually hungry, feed the physically hungry, give drink to the thirsty, counsel the doubtful, visit the sick and imprisoned, pray for the living and the dead. You’ll find that the more you empty yourself in love, the more satisfied your soul will feel.

“Finally, and most importantly, you can receive the Eucharist regularly. In his discourse on the Eucharist in John 6, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” The divine life is found, par excellence, in the transfigured bread and wine of the Eucharist. … What the soul is hungry for, finally, is the person of Jesus, the body and blood of Christ. Without feeding regularly on that food, the soul will atrophy.

“Why are so many Catholics feeling lost today? Well, 75% of them stay away from the Mass and the Eucharist on a regular basis. This is not rocket science: if you want to be healthy spiritually, you’ve got to eat!” – Bishop Robert Barron