St. Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians: When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. As we grow in age, we are expected to put aside our childish ways and grow in maturity. And this includes spiritual maturity.
Recently on St. Joseph’s Workshop, Fr. Matthew Spencer, OSJ discussed spiritual maturity, what it looks like, and the steps we can take to become spiritually mature adults. He said:
“What is spiritual maturity? What does spiritual maturity look like? I think it begins with a dependence on God. Learning what it means to depend on a savior, on a God, and realize this is not about my own skills, my own capacity to provide for myself.
Spiritual maturity recognizes that I am not the center of the universe. And that God doesn’t exist for my satisfaction, but vice versa. I was created out of love for love. And God wants me to be happy, but it’s not about me finding happiness in myself or creating it myself.
I think that dependence on God needs to teach us to trust in God. So once we recognize that we are dependent on Him, then we realize we have to trust Him. And then when we learn to trust Him we start turning our lives over to Him more. We start to live our lives as dependent on God, so we start to pray more. We start to be in relationship with God more, we communicate with God more, we talk about God more to our friends and loved ones.
Our faith becomes mature when it is not just a tool for my own happiness, it’s not based on a fantasy about how God works, that He’s just here to please me and give me what I want. But instead to call me to a new way of life, to holiness. He’s here in my life to challenge me, to lift me up, to call me to be more than I can even imagine I can be.
All of this, I think, leads to the real hallmark of spiritual maturity, which is embracing suffering. When we really become spiritually mature, I think we recognize not only the necessity of suffering but the great value that can be found in suffering when we unite our sufferings to Jess on the Cross.
We recognize the need to have discipline in our life as spiritually mature people. So we go to Mass, whether we feel like it or not. We go to Confession whether our emotions are telling us it’s a good idea or not. We’re going because we know we need it. Isn’t this a hallmark of maturity naturally, as well as spiritual maturity, that we do things not because they make us feel good but because they’re right. Because they are necessary. Because these are things that we have to do in order to be the human beings we are called to be.
I would encourage you to realize that it doesn’t happen on its own. And I think that leads to a lot of growth in and of itself. When I realize that I can’t become a saint on my own, I can’t become spiritually mature on my own. But I need the Lord, first of all. I need His Church, I need others around me who will challenge me, keep me accountable, lift me up when I’m discouraged, and also provide opportunities for me to practice charity. All of these are ways that we grow in spiritual maturity.”
Listen to the full reflection below: