It’s important to break from the heretical idea that the spiritual life is going to be all “favors and consolations”. Teresa of Avila says some have enjoyed spiritual “favors and consolations . . . and think it would be a very great thing to be enjoying these gifts all the time. Let them take my advice and become less absorbed in them”.
An addictive or consumer approach to the spiritual life is misguided. We must “endeavor to be free from this error, and make every effort to avoid [the] absorption” of trying to attain a continuous spiritual high. Teresa says, “I assure you, daughters, that I consider this a perilous road” and it’s “very bad for the brain and the head”. And on a practical level you’re “losing a great deal of time, without advancing in the virtues or making progress in prayer.”
In more serious cases, some have ruined their spiritual life by becoming obsessed with their spirituality. They neglect ordinary life while their home, their relationships, and their body falls apart. When portions of their broken life come to light, they convince themselves they don’t have time to take care of the ordinary things of life because they’re doing the work of God. Teresa says, “consolations in prayer are not so frequent that there is not time for everything. If anyone told me that she experienced them continuously . . . I should consider it suspicious.” (Remember — something’s always wrong in paradise!)
We need to recognize “life is long and there are many trials in it and we have need to look at Christ our Pattern” to learn how to bear the trials that accompany our life. They won’t go away by striving for some continuous spiritual ecstasy, becoming a bible scholar, or serving excessively in the church. The pain-free life through spirituality is an illusion. Neglecting ordinary life is a sin.
So what do we do? Quit being obsessed with spiritual experiences and religious activity. Have faith that God can work through trials and ordinary life. Love your neighbor. Be humble. Be attentive to what God is doing. Incorporate some basic practices of prayer and meditation. Let God intervene as needed. And don’t make excuses — you have time to do everything you need to do.