Maybe you were raised Catholic and have had a close relationship with the Lord your entire life. Maybe you discovered the Lord later in your life. Or maybe you have lived for decades without ever experiencing a deep relationship with the Lord. But no matter where you are on your spiritual journey, it’s never too late to discover God’s grace in your own life.
Barbara Lee is a spiritual director and author of the book God Isn’t Finished with Me Yet: Discovering the Spiritual Graces of Later Life , in which she shows how to live a life of purpose in your later years by discovering the grace God is revealing to you.
On the reason for writing her book, Lee said, “In the course of studying to become a spiritual director, I realized that there was very little out there for older people. And, you know, once we’re past middle age we are almost invisible in our youth-oriented society. In parishes there is a lot of help for the homebound and the sick and the dying, but there’s not a lot for active, mature people who are beyond middle age.”
Lee stopped by Morning Air® recently to share how mature Catholics can live so as to develop a mature faith.
“I know people who are converts and people who are cradle Catholics who grow in their faith as they mature,” Lee said. “Our religion is a big tent, and people have a lot of different degrees of maturity in their spiritual life.”
For many of us, our primary formation in the faith took place during our younger years. But Lee suggests that while we need to grow and develop our spiritual life as we age, we should also look back to our initial formation as we move forward on our journey.
“What we learned as children and young adults about our faith – think of that as the foundation,” she said. “And we build on that foundation by the way we respond to God’s grace at different times in our lives. The graces are different. The challenges are different. So we keep building on that foundation and becoming more and more aware of God’s grace.”
So how do we become more aware of God’s grace? Lee’s book focuses on the tenets of Ignatian spirituality, particularly how we can become more aware of how the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives.
“I think the most important thing is to have a regular time for prayer,” she said. “And whether it’s a short time or a longer time, to be fully present to God in that particular time. People who have very busy lives and long work schedules may only be able to set aside a short time. Some of us who are retired may have a little more available time. But the important thing is the regularity and being open to God’s grace.”
As we grow older, many of us are used to living an independent life, but Lee explained that the spiritual journey is not a journey we walk alone, but one in which continually recognizing our dependence on God’s grace.
“Be a little cautious about emphasizing what we’re going to work on,” she said. “There’s nothing wrong with that, but we can’t do it all ourselves. We have to be aware of that grace. Grace is the important thing here. Be open to grace, and if in the course of opening ourselves to grace we are moved to do something better or more, that’s wonderful.”
A key to growing in the spiritual life is to recognize what God is calling each one of us to do. He created only one you, and He has a particular calling for you in each stage of your life. Lee recognizes the beauty of our unique lives and callings, and so rather than setting out a roadmap for living as a mature Catholic she offers tools to help each person navigate their particular path.
“Everybody is different. And the people in their 70s and 80s I can’t really generalize, they’re all very different. Some are aware that the time remaining is short and how to approach that spiritually, and others are focused on what they can do now. It’s as varied as individual people, and God takes us where we are. I was just reading a little summary of Gaudete et Exsultate and Pope Francis stresses that the way to be holy is to be yourself.”
Listen to the full conversation below: