The Goal of the Spiritual Life

As part of our New Year’s Resolutions, many of us have resolved to take up practices that will help us grow in the spiritual life. But before you begin any journey, you need to know the destination. What is the goal of your spiritual resolution, and of the spiritual life in general?

Recently on The Inner Life® Father Eric Nielson, pastor at St. Paul University Catholic Center, stopped by to discuss perseverance. He helped us understand what the spiritual life is for, and how we can persevere in prayer.

“In the beginning, people start in the spiritual life because they want to become virtuous, or save their marriage, or feel good about themselves,” said Fr. Nielson. “But in the end, the goal of the spiritual life is to know, love, and serve Jesus Christ.”

Not that these ulterior motives are bad, but Fr. Nielson encouraged us to not stop there. “So often, our Lord uses these secondary motivations to keep us going,” he said. “But in the end, the only motivation that will work for us is if I want to know Jesus, and I want to have a close relationship with Him.”

Fr. Nielson also discussed the importance of perseverance in reaching the goal of the spiritual life – and that perseverance is necessary in good times and in bad.

“A lot of times when we achieve that first goal – my life is put together, my marriage is back – we can start to slack off,” he said. “And if we’re not careful we can become like that room that’s tidy and swept that the devil returns to and brings more demons than there were before. So keep persevering in your spiritual life, especially when things look good.”

And in those times when it is difficult and you don’t want to persevere in prayer, keep your eye on the goal – your love of the Lord. “I want all of you to realize that the little inspiration you got to pick up that [spiritual] habit, so often that is from the Holy Spirit,” Fr. Nielson said. “It’s given directly to you, and you sadden the Holy Spirit when you give up that habit, or you don’t follow through on that resolution. Persevere in those little things.”

Listen to the full conversation below:

The Inner Life airs weekdays at 12:00 p.m. Eastern/9:00 a.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio® and the Relevant Radio App.

Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.