To Write or Not

10 May

There is perhaps nothing more humbling for a writer than to read C. S. Lewis. A dear friend gave me a copy of Lewis’ “The Great Divorce.” I couldn’t put it down.

He has such a command of the language equaled only by an enviable imagination.

I told my friend, “I may never write again.”

But, how can I not write?

The passion is irresistible. The topics are numerous. They rather easily come to mind.

So, for me, it is not really a question of whether to write. Rather, in the interest of the common good, there are the questions of what to write and when to write.

Perhaps you have a passion for baking or golf or mathematics or history or politics.

We’ve only to be sure that the passions that fill our minds and hearts are sparked by and dedicated to that one Passion suffered so many years ago—the Passion of the Christ and his Cross.

 

 

 

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The Curse of Time

8 May

 

Imagine, if you can, a day without a clock or a watch—a day without appointments and a crammed schedule—getting the kids off to school, meeting that deadline at work or racing from one aisle to another in the supermarket.

Imagine a day without delays—and you realize that delays are possible only in time.

When I imagine such things, I realize that eternity—at the very least—is a blessing because there is no time, or clock. There is no rush and there is no schedule.

Eternity, of course, is so much more.

It is not a negative “without such and such,” but a positive “fullness of life” with, before and in God.

Sometimes I want to go back in time to the Garden of Eden to give Adam and Eve a good scolding. But then I realize I would do no better than they did because I do no better now. Even with all the hindsight, knowledge of salvation through Jesus Christ, with all the history of God working in our lives, I still disobey him.

And, as with Adam and Eve, I live in time. My heart may be yearning for eternity, for that glorious, never-changing life in the presence of God—but I am trapped here in time.

Is time a curse—a curse that ties me to a whirlwind of opposing desires and drives and schedules and duties?

Perhaps.

But, I do know that if the Lord told me that I would die in the next minute, or next week or next year, I would be begging him for more time—more time to get it right, to learn and practice perfect obedience and to worship him as he deserves to be worshipped.

So, it is true that time sometimes seems like a curse, a prison that smothers us with duties, schedules and other frictions of living.

But, time is also a great gift—time to repent, to make things right with God and our loved ones, to make the world a better place because we have each become a better person, a more loving and generous child of God.

 

The Gift of Silence

30 Apr

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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.

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)