We all have deep in our hearts a place that God has built for Himself. He invites us to meet Him there, away from the distractions of the world for a time, to know Him more deeply. This place is like an Inner Abbey.
But for most Catholics, our inner Abbey has been neglected, and often even ravaged by sin. Before we can meet God we must first unlock the rooms of our Inner Abbey and then restore them. We don’t do this gargantuan task alone. In fact, we respond to the invitation of grace. But cooperating with grace to rebuild our inner Abbey means establishing the fundamental virtues of the inner life.
This bookstore has all the resources you need to rebuild your inner Abbey. The categories in the bookstore are the rooms of the Inner Abbey. Each room represents an area of spirituality we need to grow in. Each room has a “Key” – a foundational virtue that represents a beginner’s level of spirituality – and the main “room” – a spiritual discipline that represents more advanced spirituality.
The Entryway is the first area of your Inner Abbey that you need to reclaim. This area of spirituality is the preparatory work necessary to start a spiritual life.
The virtue of Prudence is the KEY that unlocks this room of your inner abbey. Prudence helps you to center your life on God and order everything else around Him.
Spiritual Discernment is the ROOM of the Entryway. This is the practice of paying attention to your interior life and listening to the currents and influences within you. Some of them come from you. Some of them come from your cultural environment (sacred and secular). Some of them come from God, and others from Satan.
The Chapel of your Inner Abbey is where you develop your intimacy with God through prayer.
The KEY that unlocks this room of your inner abbey is establishing the habit of prayer and overcoming your internal and external resistance. Here is where you learn how to overcome distractions from prayer and distractions in prayer.
The ROOM of the Chapel consists of deep prayer. To get to the place of deep prayer we must travel the spiritual path laid out for us by great saints like Saint John of the Cross (Ascent of Mount Carmel), Saint Francis de Sales (progress toward true devotion), and Saint Teresa of Avila (Interior Castle).
The Crypt of the Saints
The Crypt of the Saints is where you grow in your imitation of the saints by embracing God’s goodness and living the moral life.
Virtue is the KEY that unlocks the Crypt. Virtues are good moral habits. They’re important because they make good moral choices a natural part of who we are. That’s the beginning of true conversion of heart.
Once the door to the Crypt is open you can start making the room of the Crypt a fitting place to honor the saints and heroes of the faith. The room of the Crypt of your Inner Abbey is deep conversion. Conquer those habitual sins. Get rid of your attraction to sin. Squash your venial sins. Sound impossible? Well, it’s not easy. But with the right strategies in place – and of course with the call and empowerment of grace – this level of conversion is definitely within your power!
The Cafeteria is as much about relationships as it is about food. The Cafeteria of your Inner Abbey is ALL about relationships. Jesus commands us to love one another as He loves us – to give ourselves as a complete gift of self to others. But He knows this is difficult for us. So He first calls us to love those who are closest to us. Our vocation is our primary “school of love.” That’s where we start. But God also gave us friendships, close working relationships, and other close relationships to teach us to love as well. To cooperate with grace in the area of relationships, we need to develop friendship skills that can prepare our hearts for loving sacrifice.
Once the Cafeteria is unlocked and we’ve grown in our ability to love the people closest to us, Jesus will call us to rebuild this room of our Inner Abbey by learning how to become a disciple of love. To fix up our Cafeteria we need to learn how to cooperate with the grace of Charity and to go beyond our own relationship skills to love God and neighbor with the inexhaustible love of Jesus.
We enter our Inner Abbey through the Entryway. We exit through the Courtyard. What will be the difference in our hearts between our entrance and our exit? Within the Inner Abbey we spend time with Jesus. But more than that – we allow Him to truly enter into our hearts by forming our lives around sanctifying grace and being empowered by actual grace and charismatic grace. When we exit our Inner Abbey – if we’ve spent our time there well – we can proclaim with Saint Paul, ” I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” This means that we exit our Inner Abbey ready to truly share in the life of Christ. And we participate in His Divine Life by participating in His Office and in His Mission. We move through the world as ambassadors of Jesus, as priest, prophet and king. The key to the Courtyard is to learn what it means to serve the Church and the World in His name through your Office and your Mission.
But the Great Commission was not to go out and do good things. It was to “Go out and make disciples.” So rebuilding the Courtyard of your Inner Abbey means making disciples – leading others into a deeper relationship with Jesus. Just as we’ve been introduced to Jesus by others, so we are called to introduce others to Jesus.