Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Daily Thought For September 30, 2015

Going Deeper


Lectio

Luke 9:57–62

Meditatio

“But he replied.…”


How often do I want to respond to a new or deeper invitation from the Lord to follow him but feel that something holds me back? Maybe he wants me to follow him in greater humility, or through a more constant practice of patience. Maybe he is asking me to let go of the anxiety that can make me try to control everything, or to let go of a bad habit that impedes a more vital relationship with him. I battle with the voices that say: “I want to, but not yet.” “Yes, but I’ve got some things pending.” “Thanks for the invitation, but I need to think about it more.”

Luke presents us with Jesus’ personal invitation to follow him today, now! Jesus doesn’t talk around his demands, but clearly tells us what discipleship will entail: living with detachment, insecurity, and the readiness for a total giving of ourselves for the sake of the kingdom. It’s a large task. It’s a call that demands living as Jesus did, in total dependence on the Father and in a constant readiness to go where he leads (see Mt 8:18–22).

Getting in touch with our “excuses,” with the deeper reasons for holding back—such as anxiety, fear, or an exaggerated sense of responsibility—allows us to humbly place ourselves before the Lord. Then he can take our feelings and transform them into the deeper love and courage we need to step out in faith and follow where he is calling us. Otherwise our putting things off today can slowly become a lifetime of procrastination. We may end up missing out on the wonderful gifts that God is offering us through a deeper relationship with him. Has the Lord invited me to do something recently to which I have responded, “Yes Lord, but …”?


Oratio

Jesus, help me to recognize the beauty of your call to follow you more closely today. You may ask me to let go of things that give me comfort, pleasure, or a sense of self-satisfaction. You might invite me to relinquish a bit of my self-sufficiency and accept my need for help from you and from those around me. You might invite me to step out of my comfort zone and into situations where I can witness to you and to the Gospel. Help me accept the initial hesitation and the tug to put off my response, but then help me turn to you for strength and courage. I want to respond with a wholehearted and trust-filled “yes” so that I can grow in my relationship with you!

Contemplatio

Here I am, Lord. Send me! (see Is 6:8).


Daughters of St. Paul. (2011). Ordinary Grace Weeks 18–34: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 160–161). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Daily Thought For September 29, 2015

Pope John Paul I & The Redeeming Quality of Humor

Ostensus non datus: he was shown to us, not given. We might well say that of Pope John Paul I, whose winning smile made the world look and listen. The Italians called him, with much love, “Il Papa del sorriso” (the smiling Pope), and the whole world followed suit. We can surmise something of his spiritual way from the letters contained in the delightful book Illustrissimi, which, in its simplicity, its quiet humor, its greatness, we have inherited as a testament. Especially moving is the letter to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, with whom he had so deep an interior affinity. He says to her: “Unfortunately I can live and dispense love only in the small coin of everyday life—but then there is that person whose television is too loud, who makes so much noise, or who is so uncouth; then I have to try to understand him, to keep calm and to smile, and this will be true love without all the rhetoric.” And he tells us a brief parable that reveals him as he really is. An Irishman, who has done little good in his life, dies and comes before the heavenly tribunal. He stands in a long line behind those who are already being judged, and he hears and sees how the Lord scans the ledger of each individual and then says to the first: “I was hungry and you gave me to eat. Paradise!” And to the second: “I was thirsty and you gave me to drink. Paradise!” To the third: “I was naked and you clothed me. Paradise!” And his heart sank deeper and deeper, for he had done none of these things. So he comes in fear and trembling before the judge and can hardly raise his eyes. But in one of his timid glances he observes what seems to be an enigmatic, mischievous smile in the eyes of the judge. And the Lord consults the ledger and says to him: “Well, there’s a lot missing here. But once I was unhappy and you told a joke and made me laugh. Off with you—Paradise!” This is typical of John Paul I himself. That’s exactly how he was. He not only told us a joke, but he bequeathed to us his smile and gave us a glimpse of what humanity really is; he let us surmise something about our lost paradise.


Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans., I. Grassl, Ed.) (pp. 310–311). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Daily Thought For September 28,2015

Faith Opens The Window To The Holy Spirit

Faith opens a “window” to the presence and working of the Spirit. It shows us that, like happiness, holiness is always tied to little gestures. “Whoever gives you a cup of water in my name will not go unrewarded”, says Jesus (cf. Mk 9:41). These little gestures are those we learn at home, in the family; they get lost amid all the other things we do, yet they do make each day different. They are the quiet things done by mothers and grandmothers, by fathers and grandfathers, by children. They are little signs of tenderness, affection and compassion. Like the warm supper we look forward to at night, the early lunch awaiting someone who gets up early to go to work. Homely gestures. Like a blessing before we go to bed, or a hug after we return from a hard day’s work. Love is shown by little things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home. Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. That is why our families, our homes, are true domestic churches. They are the right place for faith to become life, and life to become faith.

Pope Francis — excerpt from Closing Mass 8th World Meeting on the Family Philadelphia September 27, 2015

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Daily Thought For September 24, 2015

 Joy of the Saints & The Sorrow of the Worldly

To the worldling the idea of finding joy in frugality is absurd, for to him joy is nothing more nor less than sense pleasures. He knows nothing deeper, nothing more lofty. And sense pleasures can be unceasingly multiplied only with money, abundant money, the more the better. But deep down, though he kicks the heels of his spirit in a refusal to face it, the worldling does know that sense pleasures bring happiness to no one. He knows that something is radically missing in his own life. The cartoons in his slick magazines show that he knows that the wealthy are bored to death in the dullness of their cocktail parties. There is a sprinkle of pleasure here and there, and it is de rigueur to put on a brave front and a superficial smile, even though one feels the gnawing emptiness aching in his heart.

The worldling will not face his colossal inner blah. He multiplies experiences in an unending and desperate attempt to numb his spirit. It hurts so much not to have attained the very reason for his existence, an immersion in God, that he uses things as a narcotic. The worldling pursues prestige or comfort or wealth or sexual encounters not because they basically satisfy him (if they did, once would be enough) but because they dull his inner aching. Always and eventually he is faced with his personal failure. But the sight of it is so revolting and painful, he dives once again into the aspirin sea of frantic pursuits.

The saints know better. Having tasted the best, they know how to assess the least. Having drunk at the Fountain, they spend little time with the trickles. They know both from the word of the Lord and from their own experiences of it that indeed the poor are happy. Saint Paul can speak of superabounding in joy in all his sacrifices and tribulations. It is this apostle who reports to us the remarkable example of the Macedonian churches, which joined a constant cheerfulness to their intense poverty, and from this extreme neediness they begged for the favor of sharing what little they had with another church (2 Cor 8:2–4). If one looks upon a sparing-sharing way of life as dismal, dull, forbidding, his imagination has conjured up a nongospel picture. Buddhist asceticism may be smileless, but the Christic cross begets delight.

Saint Augustine is a prize example of the point I am making. Only those persons can compare pleasures competently who have had experience of them. This is why the worldling’s testimony is of so little value. He knows nothing of what transcends the senses and the natural intellect. Intellectual genius that he was, Augustine knew the keen delights of the mind: music, literature, art, nature, philosophy. Sinner that he likewise was, he also knew the pleasures of the flesh from his years of living with a woman to whom he was not married. Later as a converted mystic, he knew the delights of advanced prayer. His Confessions is a classic account of where happiness is to be found and where not. For him God is his entire delight:

  “O my Father,” he prays, “supremely good, beauty of all things beautiful … O Truth, Truth, how intimately did even the very marrow of my mind sigh for you … I hungered for you.… You are my God, and I sigh for you day and night.… Sending down your beams most powerfully upon me, I trembled with love and awe.”

This man is now taken in a love that renders pale his former love: “What cries did I send up to you when reading those psalms! How was I set on fire for you by them, and how did I burn to repeat them.… I have tasted you, and I hunger and thirst after you. You have touched me, and I have burned for your peace.” So superior is Augustine’s new delight that its normal completion could be nothing less than heaven: “Sometimes you admit me in my innermost being into a most extraordinary affection, mounting within me to an indescribable sweetness. If this is perfected in me, it will be something, I know not what, that will not belong to this life.”

No one has a right to contest Augustine’s account of the relative merits of human delights unless he has himself experienced all that the saint experienced. In other words, only the mystic may discuss the matter intelligently. Any other is like the man born blind who denies there is any such thing as prisms and rainbows.

One who knows the saints well knows also that their habitual state even in the keenest suffering and deprivation was a state of joy, a deep inner delight in God. Those who have read widely in the lives of these heroes and heroines need no example of this truth, but for those who have no considerable acquaintance with them a few illustrations may be of use. Saint Catherine of Siena is surely one of our race’s most glorious women. I shall not narrate her feats of action and contemplation (she was a marvel in both), but we may not fail to remark that this austere, lovely virgin was the recipient of literally unspeakable experiences of God. She could say of herself that “my mind is so full of joy and happiness that I am amazed my soul stays in my body.… And at the same time so much love of my fellowmen has blazed up in me that I could face death for them cheerfully and with great joy in my heart.”


Dubay, T. (2003). Happy Are You Poor: The Simple Life and Spiritual Freedom (pp. 157–160). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Daily Thought For September 22, 2015

Growing Closer To The Master


Lectio

Luke 8:19–21

Meditatio

“My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”

At first glance, we may find these words of Jesus baffling. Does he really mean that those who act on God’s word are closer to him than his own blood relations? Pondering this raises the question: what is the word of God and what does it mean to act on it? Jesus was sent by the Father to redeem humanity from sin and to teach the way of salvation. Jesus redeemed us once and for all, but each of us is free to accept salvation and order our lives according to it. We have a choice. Jesus saved us, but we have to want that salvation and to live as people who are redeemed. We can do that by following Jesus’ teachings. His teachings are not rules imposed upon us to make life difficult, but are invitations to find happiness. The human person’s most basic desire is for happiness, and Jesus’ commandments lead us on the way to find it.

An example of this can be found in the movie The Blind Side. It depicts the selfless sacrifice of the Tuohy family. This well-to-do white family welcome into their home Michael Oher, a homeless African American youth. In the process the family finds a joy that only following Jesus’ teaching to “love one’s neighbor” can give. We are made for the good and noble life. When we cheat, steal, insult, lie, and hate, we hurt ourselves as well as others, and we drift farther away from our deepest desire—happiness. But when we act on the word of God, we make the words of Jesus a reality in our day-to-day lives. We try to be gentle, patient, generous, forgiving, merciful, and trusting. When we act in this way, we grow close to the Master who longs for our love. Let us ask our Lord to give us the grace to examine in our hearts how we put the word into practice in our lives. Only then will we become authentic members of Jesus’ family of disciples.

Oratio

Jesus, Word of Life, make your word take root in my heart today so that I may reflect your joy to the world. Your mother listened most closely to your word and lived it out. May her life give encouragement to all your disciples, and an example of finding happiness in you.

Contemplatio

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path” (Ps 119:105).

Daughters of St. Paul. (2011). Ordinary Grace Weeks 18–34: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 140–141). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Daily Thought For September 21, 2015

A Cure During Confession

One day, the playwright Luigi Antonelli told a journalist of his extraordinary cure through the intervention of Padre Pio. His doctors had found a cancer covering the area between his ear and his shoulder. They had spoken to him about having an operation. He went to a surgeon and asked him, “How much time have I got left?”

The surgeon replied, “With the operation six months, and without it, three months.”

“All right,” said Antonelli, “I’ll have the operation. I can’t turn down an extra three months of life!”

And he would have undergone the operation had not one of his friends advised him to go to San Giovanni Rotondo and see Padre Pio. Perhaps the priest would ask the Lord to cure him without the operation. Antonelli reflected on this, then said, “Why not?” He set out for San Giovanni, and when he arrived went immediately to the little church and attended Padre Pio’s Mass. Afterward, he went to confession.

What happened during this confession? Antonelli found it difficult to describe even though he was a man who had a way with words. During confession he had a long conversation with Padre Pio, and the longer it went on, the more his soul was transported into a celestial state. At the same time he felt a kind of current circulating in his body, eradicating all traces of the cancer.

When he got off his knees, Antonelli felt in good health. His soul as well as his body had been cured. He took up all his activities again without ever experiencing again the slightest symptoms of cancer.


Cataneo, P. (2013). Padre Pio, Glimpse into the Miraculous. (M. McCollum & G. Dextraze, Trans.) (pp. 117–118). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Daily Thought For September 19, 2015

Hearing the Voice of the Lord

"I WILL hear what the Lord God will speak in me.”

Blessed is the soul who hears the Lord speaking within her, who receives the word of consolation from His lips. Blessed are the ears that catch the accents of divine whispering, and pay no heed to the murmurings of this world. Blessed indeed are the ears that listen, not to the voice which sounds without, but to the truth which teaches within. Blessed are the eyes which are closed to exterior things and are fixed upon those which are interior. Blessed are they who penetrate inwardly, who try daily to prepare themselves more and more to understand mysteries. Blessed are they who long to give their time to God, and who cut themselves off from the hindrances of the world.

Consider these things, my soul, and close the door of your senses, so that you can hear what the Lord your God speaks within you. “I am your salvation,” says your Beloved. “I am your peace and your life. Remain with Me and you will find peace. Dismiss all passing things and seek the eternal. What are all temporal things but snares? And what help will all creatures be able to give you if you are deserted by the Creator?” Leave all these things, therefore, and make yourself pleasing and faithful to your Creator so that you may attain to true happiness.


Thomas à Kempis. (1996). The Imitation of Christ (pp. 93–94). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Daily Thought For September 18, 2015

The Overwhelming Power of God's Love

Lectio

Luke 8:1–3

Meditatio

“accompanying … provided for them.…”

This Gospel passage about the Galilean women follows the story of the sinful woman who loves much because much has been forgiven her. We are told that because of her deep love for Jesus she anoints his feet; she has accepted God’s forgiveness and her heart overflows in response. In a way that story of responding to God’s love, forgiveness, and healing continues here.

These women accompany and provide for Jesus and the disciples in response to the invitation to love. All these women have a story—we know, for example, that Mary Magdalene was freed from seven demons. They have each experienced firsthand God’s love, forgiveness, and healing in such an overwhelming way that their hearts are flooded with a desire to love in response.

In Adeste, a Christmas song written by our sisters, a line says, “what can I give him, the Lord of creation?” The response is, “hearts that are eager to love without measure, to Bethlehem’s poor child are presents of gold.” We too are faced with the question of how to respond to God’s love.

Luke’s Gospel is vague on exactly what these women provided—and what a gift this vagueness is. It doesn’t so much matter how what they did, as that they did it. As in the song, God is asking us to respond to his love by loving through thoughts, words, and actions. The women in today’s Gospel answer the call to love by accompanying and providing for Jesus and the disciples. Each of us lives this love and service in different ways, whether we are married, single, or in the consecrated life. Yet we all do this in response to and as witnesses of God’s love in our lives.

Oratio

Jesus, each day you flood me with your love and innumerable blessings. You have carried me when I have been at my lowest points and danced with me when I have rejoiced. My heart overflows with the love with which you have filled it. May I this day allow this love, the love you have given me, to flow over to others that they, too, may find you and praise you. Give me the grace to serve my brothers and sisters as you invite me to love them unreservedly, just as you love me. Amen.


Contemplatio

Jesus Life, may my presence bring grace and consolation everywhere!



Daughters of St. Paul. (2011). Ordinary Grace Weeks 18–34: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 128–129). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.

Daily Thought For September 17, 2015

The Joy of Living by Faith

The presence of the Holy Spirit in our souls demands that we know, that we have the firm conviction of his indwelling, of our living under his very glance, of his seeking our own glance. How sweet to live in the light of that mutual glance!—a light so penetrating at times that it seems to plunge into the bosom of God, so bright that it resembles the dawn of the eternal day, so gentle that it seems to radiate from heaven. Then life is easy and pleasant in the depths of the soul, in loving intimacy with the divine Guest.

At times, however, the soul’s heaven grows dark, and in the great stretches of solitude the person cannot find a single ray of light or a vestige of the former delight. It seems that the heart is empty, that the soul has lost its priceless treasure. How difficult it is to be recollected. At such times the hours pass with tedium, and with what bitterness the soul drags itself along the path that leads to God! But in the midst of these necessary difficulties of the spiritual life, there is something that does not change nor end, something very solid that does not permit the soul to get lost, and which, like a sure compass, marks out its divine course. It is faith that always reveals the divine to us wherever it is. It is faith that makes us look at the delightful Guest, both in the shadows of desolation and in the full, heavenly brilliance of consolation.

The Scriptures tell us that “The one who is righteous will live by faith” (Rom 1:17). For this reason Saint John of the Cross recommends so emphatically, for souls aspiring to union with God, this life of faith as the straight and sure path to the summit.

Our devotion to the Holy Spirit, then, must be founded on faith. It is the basis of the Christian life. It accomplishes our first communication with God, and it initiates our intimacy with the Holy Spirit, producing in our soul that glance which unites us with the Spirit of Light called by the Church “Most blessed Light! Most happy Light!”



Martinez, L. (2011). Secrets of the Spirit: Wisdom from Luis Martinez. (G. Santos, Ed.) (pp. 44–46). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Daily Thought For September 16, 2015

Encouragement from St. Teresa of Avila



The grace of the Holy Spirit be with your charities, my daughters and sisters. You should know that I have never loved you as much as I do now, nor have you ever been so obliged to serve the Lord, for He has given you the great favor of being able to taste something of His cross and share in the terrible abandonment that He endured on it. Happy the day you entered that house where such a fortunate event was reserved for you! I envy you very much, and indeed when I learned of all those changes—for everything was carefully communicated to me—and that they wanted to expel you from that house and about other details, I felt the greatest interior joy. I saw that, without your having crossed the sea, our Lord revealed to you mines containing eternal treasures. Through these, I hope in the Lord, you will be left very rich and able to share with those of us who are here. For I believe that He will enable you to bear all without you offending Him in any way. Don’t be afflicted that you feel it very much, for the Lord would want you to understand that you are not capable of as much as you thought when you were once so desirous of suffering.

Courage, courage, my daughters. Remember that God does not give anyone more trials than can be suffered and that His Majesty is with the afflicted (cf. 1 Cor 16:13). For this is certain, there is no reason to fear but to hope in His mercy. He will reveal the whole truth; and some machinations, which the devil kept hidden so as to create a disturbance, will be made known. This was more painful for me than all that is happening now. Prayer, prayer, my sisters, and now let humility shine forth.…

Oh, what a good time it is for gathering fruit from the resolutions you made to serve our Lord. Consider that often He desires to have proof that our works are in conformity with our resolutions and words. Bring honor to the daughters of the Blessed Virgin, your sisters, in this great persecution, for if you help one another, the good Jesus will help you. Even though He sleeps at sea, when the storm gathers strength He calms the winds (cf. Mt 8:25–26). He wants us to ask of Him, and He loves us so much that He is always looking for ways to be of benefit to us. May His name be blessed forever, amen, amen, amen.

In all these houses they are urgently praying to God for you, and so I hope in His goodness that He will soon provide the remedy for everything. So strive to be joyful and reflect that, if carefully considered, all that is suffered for so good a God, who suffered so much for us, is small, for you have not reached the point of shedding your blood for Him. You are among your sisters and not in Algiers. Let your Spouse act and you will find that it won’t be too long before the sea will swallow up those who wage war on us in the manner of King Pharaoh (cf. Ex 14:28). And He will set His people free, and everyone will be left with the desire to suffer again, so great will be the gain they feel from what they underwent.…


Hill, M. L. (2011). Foreword. In M. L. Hill (Ed.), Peace in Prayer: Wisdom from Teresa of Avila (pp. 39–41). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Daily Thought For September 15, 2015

First Impressions Aren't Always Right - Be Ready to be Surprised by God Especially When You Thought He Abandoned You

The presence of God is like His glory as it appeared to Moses; He said, “Thou canst not see My face … and live”; but he passed by, and Moses saw that glory, as it retired, which he might not see in front, or in passing; he saw it, and he acknowledged it, and “made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped” (Ex. 33:20; 34:8).

Now consider how parallel this is to what takes place in the providences of daily life. Events happen to us pleasant or painful; we do not know at the time the meaning of them, we do not see God’s hand in them. If indeed we have faith, we confess what we do not see, and take all that happens as His; but whether we will accept it in faith or not, certainly there is no other way of accepting it. We see nothing. We see not why things come, or whither they tend. Jacob cried out on one occasion, “All these things are against me” (Gen. 42:36); certainly so they seemed to be. One son made away with by the rest, another in prison in a foreign land, a third demanded;—“Me have ye bereaved of my children; Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me.” Yet all these things were working for good. Or pursue the fortunes of the favorite and holy youth who was the first taken from him; sold by his brethren to strangers, carried into Egypt, tempted by a very perilous temptation, overcoming it but not rewarded, thrown into prison, the iron entering into his soul, waiting there till the Lord should be gracious, and “look down from heaven”; but waiting—why? and how long? It is said again and again in the sacred narrative, “The Lord was with Joseph”; but do you think he saw at the time any tokens of God? Any tokens, except so far as by faith he realized them, in faith he saw them? His faith was its own reward; which to the eye of reason was no reward at all, for faith forsooth did but judge of things by that standard which it had originally set up, and pronounce that Joseph was happy because he ought to be so. Thus though the Lord was with him, apparently all things were against him. Yet afterward he saw, what was so mysterious at the time;—“God did send me before you,” he said to his brethren, “to preserve life … It was not you that sent me hither, but God; and He hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.”

… And so, again, in a number of other occurrences, not striking, not grievous, not pleasant, but ordinary, we are able afterward to discern that He has been with us, and, like Moses, to worship Him. Let a person who trusts he is on the whole serving God acceptably, look back upon his past life, and he will find how critical were moments and acts, which at the time seemed the most indifferent: as for instance, the school he was sent to as a child, the occasion of his falling in with those persons who have most benefited him, the accidents which determined his calling or prospects whatever they were. God’s hand is ever over his own, and He leads them forward by a way they know not of. The utmost they can do is to believe, what they cannot see now, what they shall see hereafter; and as believing, to act together with God toward it.

And hence perchance it is, that years that are past bear in retrospect so much of fragrance with them, though at the time perhaps we saw little in them to take pleasure in; or rather we did not, could not realize that we were receiving pleasure, though we received it. We received pleasure, because we were in the presence of God, but we knew it not; we knew not what we received; we did not bring home to ourselves or reflect upon the pleasure we were receiving; but afterward when enjoyment is past, reflection comes in. We feel at the time; we recognize and reason afterward. Such, I say, is the sweetness and softness with which days long passed away fall upon the memory, and strike us. The most ordinary years, when we seemed to be living for nothing, these shine forth to us in their very regularity and orderly course. What was sameness at the time, is now stability; what was dullness, is now a soothing calm; what seemed unprofitable, has now its treasure in itself; what was but monotony, is now harmony; all is pleasing and comfortable, and we regard it all with affection. Nay, even sorrowful times (which at first sight is wonderful) are thus softened and illuminated afterward: yet why should they not be so, since then, more than at other times, our Lord is present, when he seems leaving His own to desolateness and orphanhood? The planting of Christ’s cross in the heart is sharp and trying; but the stately tree rears itself aloft, and has fair branches and rich fruit, and is good to look upon.


Newman, J. H. (2010). Life’s Purpose: Wisdom from John Henry Newman (pp. 73–76). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.

Daily Thought For September 14, 2015

Striving For Spiritual Excellence

Nothing is more certain in matter of fact, than that some men do feel themselves called to high duties and works, to which others are not called. Why this is we do not know; whether it be that those who are not called, forfeit the call from having failed in former trials, or have been called and have not followed; or that though God gives baptismal grace to all, yet He really does call some men by His free grace to higher things than others; but so it is; this man sees sights which that man does not see, has a larger faith, a more ardent love, and a more spiritual understanding. No one has any leave to take another’s lower standard of holiness for his own. It is nothing to us what others are. If God calls us to greater renunciation of the world, and exacts a sacrifice of our hopes and fears, this is our gain, this is a mark of His love for us, this is a thing to be rejoiced in. Such thoughts, when properly entertained, have no tendency to puff us up; for if the prospect is noble, yet the risk is more fearful. While we pursue high excellence, we walk among precipices, and a fall is easy. Hence the Apostle says, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you” (Phil. 2:12, 13). Again, the more men aim at high things, the more sensitive perception they have of their own shortcomings; and this again is adapted to humble them especially. We need not fear spiritual pride then, in following Christ’s call, if we follow it as men in earnest. Earnestness has no time to compare itself with the state of other men; earnestness has too vivid a feeling of its own infirmities to be elated at itself. Earnestness is simply set on doing God’s will. It simply says, “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth,” “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” Oh that we had more of this spirit! Oh that we could take that simple view of things, as to feel that the one thing which lies before us is to please God! What gain is it to please the world, to please the great, nay, even to please those whom we love, compared with this? What gain is it to be applauded, admired, courted, followed, compared with this one aim, of not being disobedient to a heavenly vision? What can this world offer comparable with that insight into spiritual things, that keen faith, that heavenly peace, that high sanctity, that everlasting righteousness, that hope of glory, which they have who in sincerity love and follow our Lord Jesus Christ?

Let us beg and pray Him day by day to reveal Himself to our souls more fully; to quicken our senses; to give us sight and hearing, taste and touch of the world to come; so to work within us that we may sincerely say, “Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel, and after that receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison of Thee: my flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.”

Newman, J. H. (2010). Life’s Purpose: Wisdom from John Henry Newman (pp. 69–71). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Daily Thought For September 13, 2015

New Perspectives

Lectio

Mark 8:27–35

Meditatio

“You are thinking not as God does.…”

The disciples have been following Jesus for a good while. They have seen him in action and have heard his words spoken with authority. Most important, they have seen that he lives what he preaches. Now Jesus wants to know what they are thinking in his regard. Do they believe in him? Have they understood who he really is and why he has come into their lives and into the world? At first it seems that Peter “gets it.” He confidently exclaims, “You are the Christ.” But Peter’s vision of the Messiah does not coincide with that of Jesus. Jesus describes what he must undergo, saying that he “must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days.” This overwhelms Peter and clashes with his ideas, so he adamantly rejects it. It cannot be this way.

While he understands Peter’s human way of thinking, Jesus must be faithful to his mission and wants to lead Peter beyond his narrow human perspective. Jesus is always inviting us “beyond.” He loves and accepts us where we are, but he wants to move us beyond, into a way of thinking, feeling, and living that is in tune with his own. In this, Jesus’ constant reference point is the Father. The goal of Jesus’ life is to be faithful to the Father’s plan of love for humanity. Like Peter, we can easily get stuck in our narrow, human perspective. Without the teachings, example, and grace of Jesus, we remain stuck. But in every situation, Jesus is at our side, inviting us to see things just a little bit differently, to think about reality with a God-perspective that can change our lives. Is there a situation in my life right now that God is inviting me to see in a different way?

Oratio

Jesus, my Lord, how my mind needs conversion! Yes, I have a tendency to think that my way of seeing things, my judgments, and my perspectives are the best. But today you invite me to move beyond all that. You invite me to open my mind to new possibilities and perspectives that flow from the mind of the Father, who is Truth and Love. Give me the courage I need to let go of my ways of thinking and open myself to your plan and your way of self-giving love.

Contemplatio

Make your own the mind of Christ Jesus (see Phil 2:5).


Daughters of St. Paul. (2011). Ordinary Grace Weeks 18–34: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 116–117). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Daily Thought For September 12, 2015

Brutal Honesty of a Modern Day Saint

"I know God will not give me anything I cannot handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much."

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Friday, September 11, 2015

Daily Thought For September 11, 2015

A Prayer for 9/11

O God of love, compassion, and healing,
look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions,
who gather today at this site,
the scene of incredible violence and pain.

We ask you in your goodness
to give eternal light and peace
to all who died here—
the heroic first-responders:
our fire fighters, police officers,
emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel,
along with all the innocent men and women
who were victims of this tragedy
simply because their work or service
brought them here on September 11, 2001.

We ask you, in your compassion
to bring healing to those
who, because of their presence here that day,
suffer from injuries and illness.
Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families
and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.
Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope.

We are mindful as well
of those who suffered death, injury, and loss
on the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Our hearts are one with theirs
as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering.

God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to your way of love
those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred.

God of understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.
Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,
and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all.

Pope Benedict XVI Visit to Ground Zero April 20, 2008

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Daily Thought For September 10, 2015

Affirmations from Forty Weeks

Be Not Afraid:
Fear comes from the enemy of my human nature.

The pathway to God's peace and healing runs through my heart's brokenness, sin, fear, anger and grief.

God resolves all my problems with time and patience.

Forty Weeks by William M. Watson, SJ p.18

Monday, September 7, 2015

Daily Thought For September 7, 2015

Great Directive From Pope Francis

Brothers and sisters, remember: Worship the Lord your God. This is fundamental! Worship God. Seek holiness in the new life of the Holy Spirit. Be dispensers of the grace of God. Avoid the danger of excessive organization.

Go out into the streets and evangelize. Proclaim the Gospel. Remember that the Church was born “on the move”, that Pentecost morning. Draw close to the poor and touch in their flesh the wounded flesh of Jesus. Let yourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit, in freedom; and please, don’t put the Holy Spirit in a cage! Be free!

Seek unity in the renewal, the unity which comes from the Trinity!

And I am waiting for all of you, charismatics the world over, to celebrate with the Pope your great jubilee on the feast of Pentecost 2017 in Saint Peter’s Square! Thank you!

ADDRESS OF POPE FRANCIS
TO PARTICIPANTS IN THE 37TH NATIONAL CONVOCATION 
OF THE RENEWAL IN THE HOLY SPIRIT

Olympic Stadium
Sunday, 1 June 2014

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Daily Thought For September 6, 2015

Prayer Is Directed To Reality

Your prayers have been heard, the Archangel Gabriel said to Zechariah when he foretold to him the birth of his son, John the Baptizer. These words, I think, give us reason to reflect from several perspectives. The birth of this son occurs in answer to an appeal directed to God by man. Prayer does not fall into a void; neither is it just a kind of psychotherapy that helps us to assemble our spiritual forces and bring them once more into balance; nor is it merely a kind of pious fiction to exercise our souls and calm them. Prayer is directed to reality. It is both heard and heeded. God, then, is someone who has the power, the ability, the will, and the patience to listen to us men. He is so great that he can be present even for those who are small. And even though the world has its fixed laws, it is not as though it were thereby withdrawn from the power of love, which is God’s power. God can answer. We might even venture to say that what God does is always an answer to this kind of appeal from someone who prays. This does not mean that God is like the potentates of this world who want to be asked before they bestow a favor. No—it is so because it must be so by the very nature of things, because it is only when we pray, when we transcend ourselves, when we surrender ourselves, when we recognize God as a reality, when we open ourselves to him, only then that the door of the world is open for God and that space is created in which he can act for and on us men. God is, it is true, always with us, but we are not always with him, says Saint Augustine. It is only when we accept his presence by opening our being to him in prayer that God’s activity can truly become an action on and for us men.

Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans., I. Grassl, Ed.) (pp. 286–287). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Daily Thought For September 5, 2015

The Family—A Beautiful Setting For Evangelization

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

In this last stage on our journey of catecheses on the family, let us broaden our gaze to the way in which it lives out its responsibility to communicate the faith, to transmit the faith, both inside and out.

At first, what may come to mind are several Gospel expressions that seem to oppose the bonds of family and the following of Christ. For example, the strong words that we all know and we all have heard: “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Mt 10:37-38).

Naturally, by this Jesus doesn’t intend to cancel out the fourth commandment, which importantly is the first commandment directed at others. The first three are in relation to God, this one is directed at people. Nor can we think that, after performing his miracle for the newlyweds in Cana, after consecrating the marriage bond between man and woman, after restoring sons and daughters to the life of the family, would the Lord ask us to be insensitive to these bonds! This is not the explanation. On the contrary, when Jesus affirms the primacy of faith in God, he finds no paragon more fitting than that of familial love. Moreover, these same familial bonds, within the experience of the faith and love of God, are transformed, they become “filled” with greater meaning and become capable of going beyond themselves, to create a fatherhood and motherhood, and to welcome as brothers and sisters also those who are in the margins of every bond. One day, to those who told him that his mother and brothers were outside looking for him, Jesus responds, pointing to his disciples: “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Mk 3:34-35).

Emotional maturity can’t be bought or sold and it is the greatest endowment of the familial genius. It is precisely in the family where we learn to grow in the atmosphere of emotional maturity. Its “grammar” is learned there, otherwise it is very difficult to learn it. And it is through this language that God makes us all understand.

The invitation to place family ties within the context of obedience to the faith and to the covenant with the Lord does not demean them; on the contrary it protects them, frees them from selfishness, protects them from degradation, rescues them for life which knows no death. A familial style that flows through human relationships is a blessing for the peoples: it brings hope back to the land. When familial affections are allowed to convert to the Gospel witness, they become capable of inconceivable things, which make tangible the works of God, those works which God performs in history, such as those which Jesus did for the men, women and children he encountered. Just one smile miraculously rising out of the desperation of an abandoned child, who is beginning to live again, explains God’s action in the world better than a thousand theological treatises. One man and one woman, capable of risking and sacrificing themselves for another’s child and not just for their own, explains the matters of love better than any scientist. And wherever there are such familial affections, there too arise these heartfelt gestures that are more eloquent than words. The gesture of love.... This makes us think.

The family that responds to the call of Jesus consigns the stewardship of the world back to the covenant of man and woman with God. Imagine developing this testimony today. Let us imagine that the headline of the story (of society, of the economy, of politics) is relegated — finally! — to the covenant of man and woman, in order that they tend to it with their gaze directed at the generations to come. The themes of earth and home, of the economy and of work, would sing a very different tune!

If we were — beginning with the Church — to centre our attention on the family that listens and practices the Word of God, we would become like the good wine of the wedding feast of Cana, we would ferment like the leaven of God!

Indeed, the family’s covenant with God is called today to counteract the community desertification of the modern city. But the lack of love and smiling has turned our cities into deserts. So much entertainment, so many things for wasting time, for making laughter, but love is lacking. The smile of a family can overcome this desertification of our cities. This is the victory of family love. No economic and political engineering can substitute this contribution of families. The Babel project builds lifeless skyscrapers. The Spirit of God instead makes the desert fruitful (cf. Is 32:15). We must come out of the towers and from the armoured vaults of the elite, to again spend time in the homes and open spaces of the multitudes, open to the love of families.

The communion of charisms — those bestowed in the Sacrament of Marriage and those granted at consecration through the Kingdom of God — is intended to transform the Church into a fully familial place through the encounter with God. Let us go forth on this path, let us not lose hope. Wherever there is a loving family, that family with its witness of love is capable of warming the heart of an entire city.


Pray for me, let us pray for one another, that we become capable of recognizing and supporting the visits of God. The Spirit will bring happy disarray to Christian families, and the city of man will rise from its depression.

Pope Francis General Audience September 2, 2015