Category Archives: Love

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.

 

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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.

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Jesus and Temptation

Jesus was tempted because He willed it.  Wow!  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way for us.  Because of concupiscence, we are constantly tempted.  In fact, if we aren’t being tempted we’re probably dead.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the devil doesn’t exist.  He still goes about the world like a roaring lion devouring souls.  Jesus showed us how to do battle with the devil, however.

Jesus had been fasting rigorously for 40 days when the devil showed up.  So Jesus was very, very hungry and the devil wanted Him to turn some stones into bread.  Jesus responds with something that we quote all the time in our house.  “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  I love this, because here is the Word of God; the bread of life really sending a smashing volley back to Lucifer.  So Jesus shows us that immersion in His Word and partaking of His Body and Blood at frequent Holy Communion, is a good offense against the devil during times of temptation.

The devil wasn’t finished yet.  Unable to tempt Him with bread; he tempts Him with power.  This fails, too.  Jesus knows that a miracle such as being borne on the hands of angels if He cast Himself down from the high place, would win the admiration and the enthusiasm of the people; but that is not to be the Way for Jesus.  His Way will be the way of the Cross, so he very resolutely rejects this temptation to pride.  Jesus shows us that the way to conquer temptations to pride and vanity is by choosing what humiliates us in the sight of others.

Finally, the devil, undaunted by this second failed attempt, offers the King of Kings the whole world with all its riches, if He would just bow down and worship him (the devil.)  Jesus replies “The Lord thy God shalt thou adore and Him only shalt thou serve.”  Smack down!  Jesus: 3.  The devil: 0.  Jesus is showing us that a heart that is firmly anchored in God will not be drawn away from His service by attraction to or envy of worldly goods.

What’s the final lesson?  The devil exists; however we have weapons for combat.  First, remember that our virtue does not consist of being exempt from temptations, but in being able to overcome them.  Second, we must have great confidence in God.  We must entrust everything to Him:  our whole life and everything in it.  Thirdly, and finally, turn to God with prayer and fasting and use faithfully the grace that God always gives when we are being tempted.  He won’t let us be tempted beyond our strength to resist especially if we trust in Him and His love and mercy.

Remember, He has commanded His angels to watch over all our paths, and they will bear us up in their hands lest our feet strike against a stone.”   What more can we ask for?

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Dignitas Personae: A Review of Part One

Anthropological, Theological, and Ethical Aspects of Human Life and Procreation:

http://tinyurl.com/k6txjqe

 

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So why is it so hard to pray for some people?

We found out that our Mom, who is 86, has a mass on her one lung.  She will be having a biopsy next Tuesday so that the doctors will know what they are dealing with but she has already decided that there will be no surgery, no radiation, no chemo–nothing.  I understand it but I don’t at the same time.  Because I am pro-life from conception to natural death and believe all the church teachings about the value of life and how we are to preserve it.  (Read CCC 2278)  I don’t get her attitude–her non will to live, as it were.

Mentioned this to my friend today whose older brother is 88 and in remission from lung cancer after going through a few chemo treatments.  When questioned by the doctors if he had a living will, he told them that he had something better, he had the will to live.

I hope that mom will pray to the Holy Spirit, the Giver of Life, to be sure that she is doing what He would have her do instead of refusing treatment out of some selfish reason of pride or control that none of us really have over our life.

My daughter asked me a while back while her Grandma was so miserable in her life.  And that is what brings me to the title of this blog.  My mom is so miserable that she makes her children miserable.  We are all such a disappointment to her (except my brother.)  She actually told my sister that yesterday.  My sister put our mom on her prayer “chains,” but first she had to ask for prayers for herself so that she can deal with our mom’s self-pity and whining all the time.  So some people are hard to pray for without first fortifying ourselves with prayer.

Finally, I was going to take it personally that I am a disappointment to my mom and then, the Lord woke me up at 3:00 a.m. today and I was laughing at my mother and at myself.  So I pulled out my rosary, said it for her, and went back to sleep with a smile on my face and joy and peace in my heart.

Gotta love the Holy Spirit!

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It’s the Little Things

I get the Morning Offering from the Catholic Company.  (http://tinyurl.com/mtp7nd5  if you want to subscribe.)  Today’s meditation from Abandonment to Divine Providence was just what I needed.  I added the bold.

1033325“This God of all goodness has made those things easy which are common and necessary in the order of nature, such as breathing, eating, and sleeping. No less necessary in the supernatural order are love and fidelity, therefore it must needs be that the difficulty of acquiring them is by no means so great as is generally represented. Review your life. Is it not composed of innumerable actions of very little importance? Well, God is quite satisfied with these. They are the share that the soul must take in the work of its perfection.”
— Jean-Pierre de Caussade, p.7

I forget sometimes that my particular path to holiness will consist of a lot of small things done with love and prayer.  And, I must not forget forgiveness.  If the cross teaches nothing else, it must teach us forgiveness.

 

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Transmitting the Faith

41.  The transmission of faith occurs first and foremost in baptism.

As St. Paul says, “we were buried with Him by baptism into death. . .”  We are meant to become a new creation and God’s adopted children through baptism so that we “might walk in the newness of life.”  (Rom 6:4)

Baptism is something we receive.  It is both a teaching to be professed and a specific way of life that “sets us on the path to goodness.”Baptism helps us to understand that faith must be received by entering into the Church (ecclesial communion) which transmits the gift of faith from God.

42.  From the outset our journey of faith beginning in Baptism is revealed.  First Baptism is bestowed by invoking the Trinity.

Our new identity as a brother/sister to Christ is clearly seen by our immersion in water.

Water is at once a symbol of death, inviting us to pass through self-conversion to a new and greater identity, and ka symbol of life, of a womb in which we are reborn by following Christ in His new life.

Baptism should change us profoundly.  It changes our relationships, our place in the universe, and opens us to living in Communion with the Trinity.

To appreciate this link between baptism and faith, we can recall a text of the prophet Isaiah, which was associated with baptism in early Christian literature: “Their refuge will be the fortresses of rocks. . .their water assured” (Is 33:16.)

The waters of baptism flow with the power of Jesus’ love.  He is faithful and trustworthy, so we can trust our faith.

43.  This passage speaks of the importance and meaning of infant baptism.  This is a beautifully written passage well worth reading in Papa Francis’ own words.

Parents are called, as Saint Augustine once said, not only to bring children into the world but also to bring them to God, so that through Baptism they can be reborn as children of God and receive the gift of faith.

44.  As important as Baptism is, the sacramental nature of faith finds its highest expression in the Eucharist.

In the Eucharist we find the intersection of faith’s two dimensions.  On the one hand, there is the dimension of history:  the Eucharist is an act of remembrance, a making present of the mystery in which the past, as an event of death and resurrection, demonstrates its ability to open up a future, to foreshadow ultimate fulfillment. . .On the other hand, we also find the dimension which leads from the visible world to the invisible.

Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.  Christ becomes present to us and moves us body and soul to our fulfillment in His Father.

45.  In the celebration of the sacraments the Church hands down her memory especially through the profession of faith.

We are speaking about the Creed here.  The Creed has a Trinitarian structure.  When we recite the Creed we are stating the the core and inmost secret of all reality is the divine communion of the three Persons in One God.

We are taken through all the mysteries of Jesus’ life and finally, we are taken up, as it were, into the Truth that we are professing.  Reciting the Creed truthfully and thoughtfully should change us, too.

All the truths in which we believe point to the mystery of the new life of faith as a journey of communion with the living God.

Two other essential elements in the faithful transmission of the faith are the Lord’s prayer and the 10 commandments.

The Decalogue is not a set of negative commands, but concrete directions for emerging from the desert of the selfish and self-enclosed ego in order to enter into dialogue with God, to be embraced by His mercy and then to bring that mercy to others.

This path of gratitude to faith receives new light when we study Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  (There is a complete study of the Sermon on the Mount on this blog.)  

So the four elements around which the Church’s catechesis is structured are the Creed, the Sacraments, the Decalogue, and prayer (especially how Jesus taught us to pray.)  This is our storehouse of memory of faith that the Church is empowered by apostolic succession to pass down through history.

47.  “there is one body and one Spirit. . .one faith” (Eph 4: 4-5)

Genuine love, after the fashion of God’s love, ultimately requires truth, and the shared contemplation of the truth which is Jesus Christ enables love to become deep and enduring.  This is also the great joy of faith: a unity of vision in one body and one spirit.  Saint Leo the Great could say, “If faith is not one, then it is not faith.”

Faith is One!  First, it is one because of the oneness of the God Who is known and confessed.  Second, Faith is one because it is directed to the one Lord; to the life of Christ.  Finally, it is one because it is shared by the whole Church which is one body and one Spirit.

48.  Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity.  Precisely because all the articles of faith are interconnected, to deny one of them, even of those that seem least important, is tantamount to distorting the whole.

49.  The Lord gave His Church the gift of apostolic succession.  It is through this that the continuity of the faith is ensured.  The Church depends upon the faithfulness of the Magisterium chosen by the Lord.

In Saint Paul’s farewell discourse to the elders of Ephesus at Miletus, which Saint Luke recounts for us in the Acts of the Apostles, he testifies that he had carried out the task which the Lord had entrusted to him of “declaring the whole counsel of God” (acts 10:27.)

Thanks to the Magisterium of the Church, this “counsel” is preserved in all its integrity and joy for us.  Praise the Lord!

 

So ends Chapter Three of Lumen Fidei.  We will take up Chapter Four, next week.  Hope you all are staying with me through this study as we approach the end of this glorious Year of Faith.

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