Category Archives: Charity

Have to Get It Right!

Matthew 5:48   “You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Want to know what you need to do (and, if you are anything like me, you’re probably not doing it very well at all.)  Read Matthew Chapter 5.  You know, the one with the beatitudes, plucking out eyes and cutting off hands, and anger, and adultery, and divorce, and swearing, and retaliation, and loving one’s enemies.  One can’t read this Chapter without realizing what little worms we are when it comes to the whole perfection thing.  I read Chapter 5 before and after going to confession.  This and Chapter 25 are all I need to trot myself off to the confessional.  Add the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and I can go all gooey on the inside contemplating my long stay in Purgatory.

And yet. . .

God gives us grace and forgiveness and mercy to help us to prioritize the pursuit of holiness in our lives.  Pursuing holiness begins with having a strong, true, and ardent love for God and for our neighbor.  It means praying and fasting and making each word and act and little daily sacrifice the means of proving our love for our Savior who died on the cross for Love of us.  An effective love can transform a dry, cold heart into a furnace of charity.  Then we can burn with Love of God even while we must live here below.  I hope you, like myself, pursue this ardent charity.

We got to get this right.

“Lord, with your loving care, guide the penance we have begun.  Help us to persevere with love and sincerity.  Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.”  Liturgy of the Hours: Evening Prayer for the Friday after Ash Wednesday.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Almsgiving, Beatitudes, Catholic, Charity, Faith, Fasting, Gospel, Holiness, Liturgy of the Hours, Love, New Testament

Do Not Grieve the Holy Spirit of God

Ephesians 4: 29-32 is both invitation and warning.  It invites us to avoid sin and all occasions of sin.  It warns us that the Person of the Holy Spirit will be insulted by our sin.

St. Paul gives us a list to follow especially where it concerns destructive and devisive speech.  He tell us to put away all

  • Bitterness
  • Wrath
  • Anger
  • Malice
  • Clamor
  • and Slander

We are to

  • be Kind to one another
  • be Tenderhearted
  • be Forgiving

Remembering the words of our Savior in the Our Father, we thank God for His mercy towards us by showing mercy to others.  Forgiveness!

St. Paul wants “no evil talk” coming out of our mouths.  Whatever we speak should be “edifying” that “it may impart grace to those who hear.”

He also alludes to Is 63:10 where the Prophet recalls how the Exodus generation of Israel grieved the Holy Spirit by grumbling against the Lord and Moses.

Heaven help us!  When I read what passes for discourse today in the age of Facebook and Twitter, I’m reminded that we, too, are a perverse generation, grumbling against the Lord, and grieving the Holy Spirit by our lack of charity and forgiveness.

We need the Holy Spirit to actually intercede for us.  Pray with me these intercessions from the Liturgy of the Hours’ morning prayer for today.  “Lord, pour out your mercy upon us.”

Christ, Rising Sun, warm us with your rays, and restrain us from every evil impulse.

Keep guard over our thoughts, words, and actions, and make us pleasing in your sight this day.

Turn your gaze from our sinfulness, and cleanse us from our iniquities.

Through your cross and resurrection, fill us with the consolation of the Spirit.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Catholic, Charity, Exodus, Holy Spirit, Liturgy of the Hours

The Manifestation

Collect.  O God, who by the leading of a star didst on this day manifest thy only-begotten Son to the Gentiles, mercifully grant that we, who know thee now by faith, may be brought to the contemplation of thy glorious majesty. through the same Lord. . .”

Today, Jesus shows Himself to the world as God and the Lord of the world.

The Magi saw a star and set out immediately.  Their faith was strong and sure.  They had generous hearts.  Their souls were ready to make the long, arduous journey.  They didn’t give up although the star disappeared at one point.

My meditation today reminds me that when God urges us to greater generosity and closer union with Him, we need to be like the Magi and follow His urging with faith, promptness, selfless generosity, and perseverance.  He is our Quest and we must not give up, even if the star of faith in our soul disappears and we feel an interior darkness.  These periods of darkness are part of His will and so we must overcome them with a pure, naked faith.  In other words, no matter what, we trust in Him.

Sometimes I pray, “Lord, what do you want from me?”  The Feast of the Epiphany reveals some of the answers.  He wants my co-operation.  He wants me to pray and work for the conversion of those who are near to me (family and friends) and those are far away (strangers.)  He wants the incense of prayer, the myrrh of suffering for the love of Him, and the gold of charity.

O Lord, please let Your star shine for me today so I will only take the road that leads directly to you.

Leave a comment

Filed under Charity, Epiphany, Faith, Jesus, Love

Who Did You Go Out to See?

“As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: What did you go out into the wilderness to behold?  A reed shaken by the wind?  Why then did you go out? To see a man dressed in soft robes? Behold, those who wear soft robes are in kings’ houses.  Why then did you go out?  To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.’  Matthew 11: 7-10

St. John is no “reed shaken by the wind.”  He is not diverted from the path of discipline or mindful of earthly pleasures.

He is the greatest and last Old Testament prophet.  Jesus tells us though that even the “least” saint in the New Testament outshines St. John. John bears witness to Christ by his preaching, by his baptism of repentance, and through his martyrdom at the hand of Herod.  Jesus views John as going before Him in “the spirit and power of Elijah.”

Jesus never undermines the saintly life of John because he is more than a prophet.  He completes the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah.  The Holy Spirit concludes His speaking through the prophets with St. John and completes the careful search of the prophets and fulfills the longing of the angels.  “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is He Who baptizes with the Holy Spirit and I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God. . .Behold, the Lamb of God.”  John 12: 33-36

Do we want to prepare our hearts for Jesus’ coming?  Then, we, like St. John the Baptist, must detach ourselves from earthly goods.  He went into the desert and lead a life of penance.  In so far as we are able, can we retire into the interior of our hearts to await Jesus’ coming in silence, solitude, and deep recollection?  Can we add a greater spirit of penance, generosity, and charity to our daily lives?  Can we give something up or take on something hard in the next two weeks?  The true Joy of Christmas is worth it.

We can’t doubt that Jesus came to save and sanctify us.  We can’t doubt that He is infinitely merciful and we can go to Him with complete confidence.  We can’t doubt that He loves us with an infinite Love; Love that we do not deserve and can never truly reciprocate no matter how we try in our clumsy, sinful way.

During this Advent, we are invited to listen to His voice and prepare ourselves.  I know that it is hard for me to quiet my continual chatter about useless things.  I know that my mind and heart can be like a raging sea of fantasies, thoughts and self love.  I have a hard time turning this off.  It’s hard to be calm during this season with all the distractions of shopping, parties, spending, and eating and drinking too much.

Yet, Jesus can calm the raging sea and quiet the tumultuous mind.  So, pray along with me, “Jesus, help me to quiet the chatter and calm my mind.  Teach me how to fasten my gaze upon you, so that all the rest will fade away.  Draw everything about me to Yourself.”

And, St. John the Baptist, pray for us.

2 Comments

Filed under Advent, Catholic, Charity, Holy Spirit, New Testament, Old Testament, Uncategorized

The Fig Tree

“Behold the fig tree, and all the trees.  When they put forth their buds, you know that summer is near.  Even so, when you see these things coming to pass, know that the kingdom of God is near.”  Luke 21: 29-31

The Advent season in an invitation to sanctity.  Yes, we wait “with joyful hope for the coming of our Savior.”  We have hopeful expectations that He will come again in all His glory.  We even look for signs like Jesus told us in Luke’s gospel.  We pour over the signs of our times and wonder if the end is near.  Some of us long for the end of the world with a longing that is so deep in our soul that we fear we will die from the longing.  We ask with the Psalmist, “How long, O Lord?”

There were two meanings in the Gospel on Sunday.  Jesus foretold the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.  Then, He turned to His second coming.  He gives us a reason to be glad for it.  “Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”  Luke 21: 28

Finally, He exhorts us to sanctity.  We have to face the fact that only by being holy as the Father is holy will we enter into heaven.  He is the fountain of life and grace; of strength and holiness.  He has already merited everything that serves for our sanctification; His gifts are unnumbered, yet we can not become saints unless we co-operate with Him.

Sanctity is the fullness of grace.  Jesus wills this for all of us.  Then, why are so few of us saints?  Why am I not a saint?

Sanctity is not obtained by our accomplishments or the number of gifts we have received from God.  Rather it is in the degree of sanctifying grace and charity to which our souls have attained by cooperating with His many invitations, inspirations and actual graces.  The gifts of Baptism and the Holy Spirit and all the sacraments should have already increased our treasure trove of grace.  And, yet, we remain slothful, prideful, and stingy.

It didn’t escape my attention that Luke’s chapter 21 begins with the Widow’s mite–extreme charity from extreme poverty.  What a lesson for us to begin this Advent season.  If we are to prove to Jesus that we are sincere about becoming holy, we need to, with His help, be very, very generous.  We need to overcome our selfishness and attachment to things no matter what it costs us.  We need to say a resounding “yes” to Him even when we would rather let our “hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life.”  Luke 21″ 34  We must not grow lazy in our pursuit of sanctity.

“O Jesus, never allow me to oppose and hinder Your actions in my soul.  Pursue me with Your grace until I give myself entirely to you.”

Have a blessed Advent.  Pursue sainthood with fervor!

 

1 Comment

Filed under Advent, Almsgiving, Catholic, Charity, Faith, Gospel, Holiness

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

Imagine this.

Jesus is sitting on the grass on the side of the mountain.  He has His eyes closed.  He is hungry and tired.  Then, He opens His eyes and looks out at the multitude of people who have followed Him here.  He smiles.  He already knows what is coming.  These thousands of people are also hungry and tired.

His apostles are very worried.  They know that these people need food, however they don’t have the resources to supply them with it.  They come to Jesus and urge Him to send the crowds away so that they can find food in the villages.  Jesus smiles again.  “No, Philip,” He says.  “These people would faint from hunger before they could get very far.  Let’s feed them ourselves.”

Philip wonders how that is going to happen.  He shakes his head in disbelief as he looks at His Lord who is still sitting calmly and smiling.  Then, Andrew sees a young boy with a basket that has five loaves and two fishes.  He shrugs and brings the young boy with his basket to Jesus. “Lord, we have this little bit of food.  But look out there.  How can we feed so many with so little?”

Jesus rises and still smiling says, “Tell everyone to sit down in groups of 50 or so.  Then, give me those loaves and fishes.”

He blesses the food.  The Apostles serve it.  The people eat and are satisfied.  The leftovers are collected in 12 baskets.  And, one of the greatest miracles of the New Testament has just occurred.

This miracle was preparation for the more startling miracle of the Holy Eucharist.  Jesus would become our Bread to nourish our souls.  Jesus is the Bread of Life, the cause of our joy on this Laetare Sunday, our delight, always at our disposal to appease our hunger.  Jesus feeds us spiritually, of course, but He also doesn’t neglect our physical needs.  If we are tormented by hunger, we aren’t going to be able to apply ourselves to the things of the spirit.

Just as Jesus provided for the 5 thousand, we must be solicitous of the needs of others and provide as we can for those needs.  If a brother or sister is in want of daily food and we say, “”Go in Peace’. . .yet give them not those things that are necessary for the body, what shall it profit?” (Jas 2: 15-16)

Finally, there is no challenge we face, no difficulty that we must overcome, no complicated circumstance in our life for which God doesn’t have the solution.  Wherever we are today, He has seen it for all eternity.  We give him our small basket of practically nothing and He performs a miracle for us.  We have to give Him everything in our power, holding nothing back, and He sets a rich and abundant table for us

He will “give us this day our daily bread.”.

Leave a comment

Filed under Catholic, Charity, Eucharist and Mass, Holiness

Faith and Works–Paul vs. James?

Consider the following quotations.

Romans 3: 28  “For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of law.”

James 2: 24  “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

It might appear that St. James and St. Paul are contradicting each other.  However, if we go below the surface and examine these statements in their proper contexts, we discover that they are not in disagreement at all.  Since they are addressing different pastoral situations in the early church, they draw attention to different aspects of the common doctrine on faith and works.  (As an aside, the words “faith alone” only appear in James; never in Paul.)

FAITH

St. Paul:  He is speaking of the faith that leads to Baptism; the faith of the convert.

St. James:  He is talking about the faith of a professing Christian.

The point:  Paul and James discuss the role of justifying faith in two different contexts; namely before and after the believer is incorporated into Christ by Baptism.

WORKS

St. Paul:  In Romans 3: 28, he is specifically speaking about works of the Mosaic Law.  His point is that no one can earn or merit the free gift of grace by obedience to the Torah.

St. James:  In Jas 1: 27; 2: 15-16, he is affirming works of mercy by those already established in grace.

The point:  Paul denies the saving power of Mosaic works performed on the strength of human nature, while James affirms the value of Christian works performed by the grace and power supplied by Jesus Christ.

JUSTIFICATION

St. Paul:  According to him, our initial justification is in Christ; that critical moment when God makes the believer righteous by an infusion of His Spirit and life.

St. James:  He talks about works of Christian obedience undertaken in response to the grace of Christ:  believers who put their faith into action and want to live the gospel in practical and charitable ways.

The point:  This teaching of James is in full harmony with the teaching of Paul. (Rom 2: 13; 6: 12-19)

Let’s stop here so everyone can read James 2: 14-26 in our own Bibles.

James the Less

James the Less wrote the first Catholic Epistle

Next time:  Celebrating Faith

Meditation:  Use 1 Cor 13: 4-7 as a starting point to make an examination of conscience.  To make the passage more personal, substitute “I am. . .” for the words “Love is. . .”

Leave a comment

Filed under Catholic, Charity, Christian, Faith, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Jesus, New Testament, St. Paul