“In our world today, so many people feel lost and confused. We are all search for meaning in our lives.” These are the opening words of Fr. Phil Estrella for his Adult Lay Spirituality Talk. Though, he usually gives his talks over a weekend, he compressed it into a single day for the parishioners. It was a jampacked afternoon filled with wisdom for the spiritual life.
His talk draws from many of the spiritual masters in the Church’s tradition. He says, “Mysticism in not just for a chosen few but for all. We each have to learn how to look at our daily lives from a spiritual perspective.” This teaching comes from the wisdom of St. Ignatius of Loyola, who teaches about discernment and St. Francis of Assisi, who sees God in every created thing.
Fr. Phil wants to inspire a shift to a more mature faith. This means seeing our lives for what it is, and then responding to it in the right kind of way. The first step to this is to know what we our lives are like. He says, “No matter who you are, there are givens that we need to know about. Firstly, happiness does not last. Secondly, we all encounter disappointment. Finally, we all suffer loss, both in the things and people that we love.”
This is a part of what it means to be human. In this valley of tears, we cannot avoid having these experiences. They are a part of our lives. Everyone goes through it. Fr. Phil goes on, “A mature faith is one that has moved away from asking God to remove these problems – or to remove the givens from our lives. Instead, a mature spirituality means making sense of these trials in the right kind of way. It is a matter of changing our perspective.”
Borrowing from St. Ignatius, he says, “Sanctity then does not depend on removing these given from our lives, but making the right decisions in the face of these trials. Ignatius calls this discernment. How we look at the challenges, pray and think about them, and finally make a decision to act is the process of good discernment and the mark of a mature faith.”
Finally, he says that we must always look to Jesus. He is the one who became human, not to take away suffering but to transform it. A big part of a mature spirituality is being able to see how Jesus’ experiences are connected to our own. Fr. Phil ends saying, “There are many gifts that Jesus can give us, but the best one is the fact that he experienced what we experience. He is the one that gives meaning to our own individual struggles.”