By Lenora Grimaud

Spiritual maturity means to be free to be the persons we were created to be, in the image and likeness of God; free to be ourselves. If we are completely free, we will be like Jesus, our true model, and do the things he did. We don’t become Jesus, we become like him—full of love, full of light, full of truth, full of the power of the Holy Spirit.

If we are spiritually mature, our “will” will be completely free, and enable us to be and do what we intend to be and do. There is no conflict between our “free will” and God’s will. If our will is free, it will be in union with God’s will. God’s will for us is our greatest good, and the greatest good of all humanity; it is “love.” When our will is free, we will want our greater good, and love will enable us to will the common good over our personal good. When our will is free, it is not in bondage to sin.

Sin is anything that prevents us from freely and fully loving God, others, and ourselves. Sin is anything that causes us to “grieve the Holy Spirit,” hurt others, or hurt ourselves. Sin causes us to become fragmented, destroying our integrity and wholeness; it ruptures our relationships with others and isolates us from the human family; and it separates us from intimacy with the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Spiritual maturity is to become aware of everything that makes us a slave or victim of sin, and to become free of our slavery through the grace—the power—of the Holy Spirit.

“The Twelve Steps to Spiritual Maturity” does not focus on any one addiction or sin, but sin, in general—whatever has a hold on us and prevents us from being free to love as Jesus loved. We don’t confess, or name our sins, publicly, but to God in the Sacrament of Penance, where we can receive the grace to over-come them. Recovery from sin is a life-long process, but the day will come when we will be fully mature and free; transformed into the image and likeness of God. In the process, we continue the mission that Jesus began—to establish the Kingdom of God on earth and in the hearts of all man-kind.

Step One:
We admit that we are powerless over sin and evil—that without God’s help, our lives are unmanageable.

I know of nothing good living in me—living, that is, in my unspiritual self—for though the will to do what is good is in me, the performance is not, with the result that instead of doing the good things I want to do, I carry out the sinful things I do not want. (Rom. 7:18-19).

Step Two:
We believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to wholeness and to union with God.

I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom.7:23-25).

Step Three:
We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the providence of God, the Father; the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Son; and the power of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate.

He who believes and is baptized will be saved. (Mk. 16:16). I tell you most solemnly, unless a man is born through water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (Jn.3:5).

Step Four:
We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves and our lives.

God, examine me and know my heart, probe me and know my thoughts; make sure I do not follow pernicious ways, and guide me in the way that is everlasting. (Ps. 139:23-24).

Step Five:
We confess to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs by receiving the Sacrament of Penance.

If we say we have no sin in us, we are deceiving ourselves and refusing to admit the truth; but if we acknowledge our sins, then God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and purify us from everything that is wrong. (1Jn.1:8-9).

Step Six:
We are ready to cooperate with God in order to have him remove our vices and defects of character.

As once you put your bodies at the service of vice and immorality, so now you must put them at the service of righteousness for your sanctification. (Rom. 6:19).

Step Seven:
We humbly asked God to give us the grace to overcome our sins and defects of character.

Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you…If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him. (Lk.11:9, 13).

Step Eight:
We made a list of all persons we had harmed and were willing to make amends to them all.

Everyone who comes to me and listens to my words and acts on them—I will show you what he is like. He is like the man who when he built his house dug, and dug deep, and laid the foundations on rock; when the river was in flood it bore down on that house but could not shake it, it was so well built. (LK. 6:47-48).

Step Nine:
We made direct amends to those we hurt, unless it would hurt them even more, to do so, and made “acts of reparation” (penance) for those whom we could not make direct amends to.

So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering. (Mat. 5:23-24).

Step Ten:
We continue to examine our hearts, minds, and behavior, and when we are wrong, we promptly admit it, and make amends.

Examine yourselves to make sure you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you acknowledge that Jesus Christ is really in you? (2Cor.13:5).

Step Eleven:
We continually seek, through prayer, meditation, and the Eucharist, to deepen our relationship with God—always praying for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out.

Pray all the time, asking for what you need, praying in the Spirit on every possible occasion. Never get tired of staying awake to pray for all the saints (Eph.6:18).

Step Twelve:
After having a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we are zealous to proclaim the Gospel, in word and deed, to others; to share with others the reason for our hope.

So stand your ground, with truth buckled round your waist, and integrity for a breastplate, wearing for shoes on your feet the eagerness to spread the gospel of peace and always carrying the shield of faith so that you can use it to put out the burning arrows of the evil one. And then you must accept salvation from God to be your helmet and receive the word of God from the Spirit to use as a sword. (Eph. 6:14-17).

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