In October 1911, two teams of explorers tried to reach the South Pole in order to be the first human beings to touch it. After almost two months, one team, led by Roald Amundsen, arrived to the South Pole, and returned home safely. The other team, led by Robert Falcon Scott, reached the South Pole thirty-four days later but unfortunately, they all died on the return trip.
What was the difference between these two teams of explorers? Preparation for the storm. Amundsen did not wait until he was in the storm to prepare for it. Scott, on the other hand, relied on what he knew and failed to prepare.
In our spiritual life, we will necessarily be threatened by storms, all different kinds of storms- from small storms such as temptations, to big storms such as scandals, frustrations, disappointments and deceptions. Regarding deceptions, St. Alberto Hurtado says: a great pain or suffering happens when you find opposition from those who should fight with you rather than against you.
I would dare to say that storms are the main problem we confront while on our pilgrimage toward holiness, and lack of preparation for these storms is the main reason for giving up. So, I think we can take advantage of the way that Amundsen prepared his people to reach the South Pole in order to prepare ourselves to reach holiness.
First of all, he asked for advice from people who had experience (for example, in his case, experience in suffering extremely cold weather). Seeking advice from experienced people is very important and is one of the main reasons that we should read the lives of the saints. Many read the lives of the saints just to admire them, but not to get advice from them. In our spiritual life, it is good to seek advice from a wise person, like a spiritual director.
The second thing that helped him was training. He made his team train for those difficult situations. For example, they learned to survive in freezing temperatures before they had to. We must do the same in the spiritual life. For example, if it is difficult for me to be humble, then I should start practicing that virtue, before I find myself in a difficult situation related with pride. That is, if I know that there is something difficult for me, I should start working on it before I have to face it directly.
Third, although he was positive or optimistic, he also prepared his team for bad things (specifically for bad weather, but other difficulties as well). Scott on the other hand was overly optimistic and that was the main reason why they died on their way back (for example, he did not take extra food because he did not calculate delays). This is also important in our life. Excessive optimism or positivity could betray us. We must prepare ourselves for difficult situations, otherwise when they come we will not know how to react.