Archive | April, 2017

The Gift of Silence

30 Apr

West Virginia Trip - October 2011 341

 

It took me a long, long time to discover silence as a path to intimacy with God.

As a child, I was taught prayers. But praying those prayers was not as fruitful then as they are now.

That, of course, can be charted up to the natural process of growing older and wiser. But, it is also true that when I was a youngster, my experience of “Church” was far different from what younger people are able to experience today.

It is not too much of an exaggeration to say that when I was 10 years old back in 1944, lay people had little realization (1) that they shared the priesthood of Christ, (2) that they were indispensable to the mission of evangelization and, (3) that the man they called “Father” was burdened with spiritual challenges as was everyone else.

There are historic reasons for this. When immigrants began to come here in great numbers, they brought with them their language and their faith—and little else. Many had limited or no formal education.

For Catholics, the parish priest was their link with the government, the people of America, and with God. “Father” became someone in whom they could trust and on whom they could depend.

Today, attentive lay people know that they do share Christ’s priesthood and are indispensable to the mission of evangelization. Also, they recognize in their priest a brother who shares his own struggle for holiness—as well as a father in faith.

Older and wiser, I still pray those beautiful traditional prayers. But I have discovered the wonder of silence. When I am still, I find God in the beauty of creation, in the comforting quiet of a foggy morning. I find him in the silent presence of a loved one.

But sometimes, when I manage total surrender to God, I find him in the utter stillness of mind and soul.

That is the gift of silence.

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Why Did God Make Us?

17 Apr

Baby

Indeed, why…? 

We easily respond, “Because he loved us even before he created us—and because he wanted us to live. He wanted us to be happy and live forever with him in heaven.”

And that is true.

But there is so much more.

Our God teaches us through his Church that, in Christ, we are his messianic people, a people who are to bring the Messiah’s love and teaching into the entire world. We share his mission. We have become his messianic people.

In the 1960s, the Second Vatican Council of our Church gives us this instruction—a wonderful and challenging truth.

“This messianic people, then, though it does not in fact embrace all mankind and often seems to be a tiny flock, is yet the enduring source of unity, hope and salvation for the whole human race. It is established by Christ as a communion of life, of love and of truth; it is also used by him as an instrument for the redemption of all, and is sent out into the whole world as the light of the world and the salt of the earth.”  (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, No. 9).

The temptation is to take the blessing and ignore the demands of the Gospel—the God-given job of bringing his Word to all the earth.

God loves us and blesses us no matter what.

But do we really love him—or, in a sense, only use him? 

Part 2: Why Choose Virtue

14 Apr

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(We have looked at Human Virtues and Moral Virtues. In this session, we will embrace those virtues which place us in intimate communion with God—the Theological Virtues.)

You want to live a happy and stable life. The foundation for such a life is to live in an intimate communion with God—to be one with God, in God and for God.

The Theological Virtues—Faith, Hope and Love (Charity)—are the foundation of such a life. These virtues animate life and all its activities and give it its special character.

The gift of Faith gives us belief in God and all that he has said and revealed to us. Faith also enables us to embrace the authentic teachings of our Church. Here, faith does not mean merely to believe in God. It means a relationship in which we commit our life, our very existence, to God—as Jesus did in his life and death.

Hope fires in us a deep desire for the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness. We place our entire trust in the promises of Christ and rely on the grace of the Holy Spirit.

If we become a people of hope, a Church of hope, we will change to world.

Love (or charity) is a challenge. It means to love God and others no matter what—as Jesus did. The challenge is that love demands total surrender to God.

We must love God above all else for his sake—and our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus makes love the new commandment.

People of love receive courage, insight and strength from God. Such love cannot be achieved, nor can it endure, without the discipline of prayer, study and frequent participation in the Mass and reception of the Sacraments.

Again, I heartily recommend Matthew Kelly’s excellent book, “Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic.” It has inspired much of these last two sessions with you.

Hear God, embrace God, do God’s will and live a virtuous life.

 

 

 

Why Choose Virtue, Part 1

13 Apr

Heavenly Sun Beams

Our Faith teaches us that there are three kinds of virtues: human, moral and theological.

The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” teaches us that Human Virtues help us achieve firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions and guide our conduct according to reason and faith” (No. 1804).

Cardinal or Moral Virtues are prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. These virtues are acquired by human effort. They are the fruit and seed of morally good acts. They dispose all the powers of the human being for communion with divine love.

Prudence is the moral virtue that enables us to choose what is good in every situation or circumstance. Prudence guides the judgment of conscience.

Justice is the moral virtue that helps us to develop a strong will to give to God and neighbor what is due to them. Justice toward God is called “virtue of religion.” Justice toward others ensures the rights of each person and establishes harmony in relationships.

The moral virtue of Fortitude ensures firmness in and constancy in the pursuit of good.

Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods.

So, to be virtuous is to live, by the grace of God, a balanced life, one in which you are content with yourself and others can be comfortable around you.

But there is more. In Part 2, the Theological Virtues enable you to live in communion with God.

 

 

An Act of Faith

7 Apr

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Into your hands I commend my spirit.

                                               (Ps 31:6)

An Approach to Prayer

4 Apr

 

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Easter is just around the corner. We think of how we spent Lent. Maybe we need to buckle down a bit more.

Let’s revisit the blessing and responsibility of prayer. We want to pray for ourselves and our loved ones and our enemies.

Let’s reflect a moment on how one man views prayer and his “prayer process.”

In “Rediscover Jesus,” Matthew Kelly calls prayerlessness “the curse of our age.” He reminds us that God the Father wants us to know his Son.

Here is his recommended prayer process:

Gratitude: Revisit the last 24 hours to see when you were and were not the person God created you to be.

Significant moments: Recall an experience that day. What might God be trying to tell you?

Peace: Ask God to forgive you for anything that was not in his will and plan for your life. Ask him to give you peace.

Freedom: Speak with God about his invitation to change your life. Are you at least moving toward whom he want you to be?

Others: Ask God to bless others in your life: family, friends, benefactors and those who make your life miserable.

And, I personally suggest that we pray for the conversion and salvation of all the terrorists in the world.