Archive | January, 2016

Exodus 2016, Part 2

26 Jan

iStock_000002070470Small

Afraid of the Light? Afraid to move? Locked in a cocoon?

As mentioned in my January 21 blog, there are tremendous problems facing believers in contemporary times. Among the things we, too often, only bemoan are these:

  • People “domesticating” God—making God in their own image;
  • Thinking what we want is what we need;
  • Government and secular pressures trying to lock faith up inside church and temple walls;
  • Denial of marriage as being between one man and one woman;
  • The growing hedonism in today’s world;
  • And the hesitation, or refusal, of believers to leave their comfortable little cocoons to witness the love and glory of God.

It’s so very easy to leave church on Sunday all “giddy with grace” and little, if any, resolve to make things better.

However, we have dedicated lay people, committed clergy and religious who work tirelessly to form parishioners in the ways of our Lord.

Great strides are taken toward the Christian formation of each person and the entire parish community. Attention is given to worship, aid to the poor and homeless, and outreach to the non-practicing Catholic and to the unchurched.

All this requires tireless commitment to prayer, planning and execution of the plans.

However, as we diligently strive for success in these good efforts, there is a danger. Working hard in ministry, we can begin to lose sight of the cohesion of all ministries. The unity and growth of the community can be compromised. Also, ministers may experience “spiritual fatigue”—as they feel isolated from others, overworked and “put upon.”

But, this danger can be avoided.

“With simplicity of heart, I have joyfully offered everything to you my God.”[i]

With “simplicity of heart,” truly trusting God, each one of us can grow in faith and begin to influence the people we meet every day.

You may want to consider the following suggstions.

  • Live your faith. Enter fully into the Eucharistic celebration.
  • Daily remind yourself that God’s Word brings joy and light into boredom and darkness.
  • Embrace God’s word in Scripture. Let it take root in the depths of your being. God’s Word is always new.
  • Frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
  • Pray constantly. Offer everything you do as a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God.
  • Love one another deeply. Each day, pray for those with whom you work and minister. Soon others will more easily see the strength of faith-based love.
  • Remember that faith is a gift. To grow in faith, you must surrender to our Lord.

If we so live, we will not become locked in a faith-cocoon, but we will be eager, ready and able to reach out to others. Then, people will be attracted to the Lord and his Church.

 

 

 

[i] Antiphon, The Liturgy of the Hours, Book I, pg. 808

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

OOPS!

23 Jan

My last blog, Jan. 21, was “Part 2: Exodus 2016.”

It was actually the first of two blogs on our contemporary call to move forward.

Apparently, I was a bit befuddled. But I have since corrected the error.

My next blog, in just a few days, will actually be the second part.

Deacon Henry

 

 

Exodus 2016

21 Jan

istock_000004888012small-copy

I remember that great scene from “The Bible” in which Moses (Charleston Heston) led God’s people through the Red Sea with water standing in walls to the right and left. He and all the Israelites crossed on dry land.

Once everyone had crossed over safely and Pharaoh’s army was in pursuit, the Lord had Moses stretch his hand and staff over the sea and the waters poured down destroying the enemy.

Of course, the Exodus is more than a dramatic event from the long distant past.

God is offering us our own Exodus today, in 2016.

From what or whom do we need to be delivered? Some suggestions:

  • The widespread “domestication” of God; making God in one’s own image—God becoming a quasi-reality of little or no importance; denial of the reality of sin and a cold shoulder to God’s wonderful mercy and forgiveness; the prideful sense of total independence from God and Church.
  • Deep-rooted materialism which leads us to focus on ourselves and to confuse “wants” with “needs.”
  • The not-so-subtle efforts in government and mass media to shackle faith within the walls of home and church; the obvious effort to silence believers while allowing unbelievers full voice to push their “non-God” rhetoric.
  • The growing moral corruption in society that (a) embraces lying as acceptable, even clever, to achieve one’s own will, and (b) confuses capitalism with amassing wealth as an end in itself.
  • Denial of marriage as a God-given and lifelong union of a man and a woman who become one flesh for the growth of their love for each other—and for the procreation of children.
  • Hedonism which transforms sex into a plaything for adults still too immature to recognize both its dignity and purpose.
  • The cancerous growth of a certain cocoon-like faith that isolates each believer from the whole Body of Christ.
  • Indifference toward the Lord’s call to live the Gospel and to share it with all the people in one’s life.

These factors are clear signs of three things: first, a certain denial of God and a disdain for people of faith; second, a shallow level of belief fostered by inadequate religious instruction, broken homes and/or ineffective preaching and weak religious formation—notably in the home; a spiritual narcissism which locks faith communities into self-satisfaction over what great things they are now doing.

So, what does all this mean? How do we achieve Exodus 2016?

More on January 27.

It Pays to Pray

9 Jan

iStock_000003007286Small

I am grateful to so many of you who have, over the years, shared faith with me, inspired me and, yes, listened to me.

I had such a great Christmas, which lasts from December 25 through January 10, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the last day of the Christmas season.

I thank God for The Liturgy of the Hours—the Breviary, as most people call the set of books which ordained and consecrated persons promise to pray every day of their lives. Many lay people pray the Hours as well.

Our Church has wisely preserved for our benefit the writings of so many saints.

 A case in point.

St. Peter Chrysologus (A.D. 406-450) was a dynamic preacher. On Monday after the Feast of the Epiphany, he offers the following:

“Today the Magi gaze in deep wonder at what they see: Heaven on earth, earth in heaven, man in God, God in man, one whom the whole universe cannot contain now enclosed in a tiny body. As they look, they believe and do not question as their symbolic gifts bear witness: incense for God, gold for a king, myrrh for one who is to die.

“So the Gentiles, who were the last, become the first: the faith of the Magi is the first fruits of the belief of the Gentiles.”

This is a great insight and inspiration for all of us. The one phrase that has sent me back to this quote time and again is this: “one whom the whole universe cannot contain now enclosed in a tiny body.”[i]

May I be among the last to say, “A blessed Christmas to all.”

It pays to pray. I already anticipate Christmas 2016.

 

[i] The Liturgy of the Hours, Book I, pg. 578.