Developing our spiritual character and personality

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

WITH the celebration of Pentecost Sunday, we are reminded that the Holy Spirit is always with us, always intervening and directing our life toward its proper end and its fullness or perfection. He is leading us toward how we should be, that is, that we truly become God’s image and likeness, sharers of his divine life and nature.

For us to correspond properly to this basic truth of faith about ourselves, we need to see to it that our basic natural humanity, with its given temperament that is the effect of our biological constitution, develops a character and personality that is guided by the Holy Spirit and eventually adapts the spirit proper to us, which is none other than the spirit of Christ who is the pattern of our humanity, the savior of our damaged humanity.

This is how we direct our life and our humanity toward its fullness, enabling us to transcend our natural self to our spiritual and supernatural self when we eventually would share God’s life and nature.

It’s important that we understand the process of how our basic temperament can develop its proper spiritual character and personality. Each of us, of course, goes through this process in a unique way, but we all have a common goal and the means we need for this process are also common or shared.

We know that a person’s temperament refers to one’s most instinctive reactions or automatic behaviors. It is determined by genetics and can be seen in the early stages of childhood or even in infants. It definitely needs to be educated and developed, otherwise it remains in the primitive stage of our humanity.

This need for education and development of the temperament is what is called the formation of one’s character. There, of course, are many elements that can go into such education and development. The social and cultural environment, and many other factors, greatly affect one’s character.

It is important therefore that for one to have a proper character, he should be educated properly. And that can only mean, in the end, having a truly Christian formation which is not simply a matter of knowing Christian principles and values but rather of truly living and being consistent to these Christian principles and values.

This is where the skill of how to discern and follow the abiding promptings of the Holy Spirit should be truly learned. This is where we have to learn to be truly contemplative souls such that even while being immersed in the things of this world, we would still be with the Holy Spirit.

The result of educating our temperament and of forming a certain character with its corresponding ways of behaving and reacting to anything in life is what would constitute as our personality. There can be as many kinds of personalities as persons themselves, but what should be common in them is that it is a personality that is animated by the spirit of Christ precisely through the Holy Spirit.

It should be a personality that reflects and channels Christ’s goodness, charity, compassion, mercy, etc. Its understanding of what is truth and justice, etc. should be that of Christ himself.

Given the confusing environment and world culture we are having now, we really need to work intensely in imparting the formation of our proper character and personality. It’s a duty and responsibility that we have to carry out most seriously.