Living By the Spirit

I’ve been praying with the Letter to the Romans over the last week or so. This morning, my passage was the beginning of Romans 8, a chapter of Romans I prayed with during my retreat several weeks ago.

Paul writes, “But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.” (“Flesh” for Paul means human nature apart from God, unaided by the Holy Spirit.)

A commentary to this passage, contained in Romans and Galatians: A Devotional Commentary, asks the question how can one tell if one is living by the power of the Holy Spirit or by the flesh in a given moment. Simple, suggests the author:

We can examine ourselves periodically during the day to see if we are experiencing peace, joy, love, and the other fruits of the Spirit. If we are not, but rather see anger, frustration, or division, we have probably slipped back into living according to the flesh.

Considering the fruits of an experience is not foreign to me; part of Ignatian discernment (both in decisionmaking and in discernment of religious experience) includes examining whether one is in a state of peace, whether something leads to greater faith, hope and love, or the opposite.

But I found this passage a great reminder of our need to pay attention to what it going on in us. And of the fact that this is something that can be done easily at any time. Easily, that is, so long as we are in a mindful state, aware of what is going on in us as well as around us.