Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Daily Thought For May 31, 2017

Pope Francis On Hope & The Holy Spirit

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In the imminence of the Solemnity of Pentecost, we cannot but speak of the relation there is between Christian hope and the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the wind that drives us on, that keeps us on the way, makes us feel ourselves pilgrims and strangers, and does not permit us to ensconce ourselves and to become a “sedentary” people.

The Letter to the Hebrews compares hope to an anchor (Cf. 6:18-19); and to this image we can add that of the sail. If the anchor is what gives the boat security and keeps it “anchored” between the waves of the sea, the sail, instead, is what makes it go and advance on the waters. Hope is truly like a sail; it receives the wind of the Spirit and transforms it into the driving force that pushes the boat, depending on the circumstances, to the open sea or to the shore.

The Apostle Paul ends his Letter to the Romans with this wish: hear well, listen well to this beautiful wish: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (15:13). Let us reflect a bit on the content of this very beautiful word.

The expression “God of hope” does not only mean that God is the object of our hope, namely Him that we hope to reach one day in eternal life. It also means that God is He that already now makes us hope, rather, He makes us “rejoice in hope” (Romans 12:12): rejoicing now in hope, and not only hoping to rejoice. It is the joy of hoping, now today, and not hoping to have joy. “While there is life, there is hope,” states a popular saying. And the contrary is also true: while there is hope, there is life. Men have need of hope to live and they have need of the Holy Spirit to hope.

We heard Saint Paul, who attributes to the Holy Spirit the capacity to make us even “abound in hope.”  To abound in hope means never to be discouraged; it means to hope “against all hope” (Romans 4:18), namely, to hope also when every human motive for hope fails, as it was for Abraham, when God asked him to sacrifice to Him his only son, Isaac, and as it was, even more so, for the Virgin Mary under Jesus’ cross.

The Holy Spirit makes this invincible hope possible, giving us the interior testimony that we are children of God and His heirs (Cf. Romans 8:16). How could He who gave us His only Son not give us everything else together with Him? (Cf. Romans 8:32). “Hope — brothers and sisters — does not disappoint: hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). Therefore, it does not disappoint, because the Holy Spirit is within us who pushes us to go on, always! And because of this, hope does not disappoint.

There is more: not only does the Holy Spirit make us capable of hoping, but also to be sowers of hope, to be also — like Him and thanks to Him – “paracletes,” namely consolers and defenders of brothers, sowers of hope. A Christian can sow bitterness, he can sow perplexity, and this is not Christian, and one who does this is not a good Christian. He sows hope: he sows the oil of hope; he sows the perfume of hope and not the vinegar of bitterness and despair. In one of his addresses, Blessed Cardinal Newman said to the faithful: “Instructed by our own suffering, by our own pain, even by our own sins, we will have the mind and the heart exercised in every work of love towards those who have need of it. In the measure of our capacity, we will be consolers in the image of the Paraclete, and in all the senses that this word entails: advocates, assistants, comfort bearers. Our words and our advice, our way of being, our voice, our look, will be gentle and tranquilizing” (Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. V, London, 1870, pp. 300f.). And it is above all the poor, the excluded, the unloved that are in need of someone who will be a “paraclete” to them, namely, a consoler and defender, as the Holy Spirit is with every one of us, who are here in the Square – consoler and defender. We must do the same with the neediest, with the most rejected, with those who have greatest need, those who suffer most – defenders and consolers!

The Holy Spirit nourishes hope not only in men’s heart, but also in the whole of Creation. The Apostle Paul says – this seems a bit strange, but it is true: that Creation also “waits with eager longing” to be set free and “groaning in travail” as the pangs of birth (Cf. Romans 8:20-22). “The energy capable of moving the world is not an anonymous and blind force, but the action of the Spirit of God ‘moving over the face of the waters’ (Genesis 1:2) at the beginning of Creation” (Benedict XVI, Homily, May 31, 2009). This also drives us to respect Creation: a painting cannot be besmirched without offending the artist who created it.


Brothers and sisters, may the forthcoming feast of Pentecost, which is the birthday of the Church, find us in accord in prayer with Mary, Jesus’ Mother and ours. And may the gift of the Holy Spirit make us abound in hope.  I will say more to you: may it make us fritter away hope with all those who are most in need, most rejected and all those that have need. Thank you.

Pope Francis — General Audience, May 31, 2017

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Daily Thought For May 28, 2017

Great Insights Into The Ascension by the Doctor of Grace

Today our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven; let our hearts ascend with him. Listen to the words of the Apostle: If you have risen with Christ, set your hearts on the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God; seek the things that are above, not the things that are on earth. For just as he remained with us even after his ascension, so we too are already in heaven with him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies.

Christ is now exalted above the heavens, but he still suffers on earth all the pain that we, the members of his body, have to bear. He showed this when he cried out from above: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? and when he said: I was hungry and you gave me food. Why do we on earth not strive to find rest with him in heaven even now, through the faith, hope and love that unites us to him? 

While in heaven he is also with us; and we while on earth are with him. He is here with us by his divinity, his power and his love. We cannot be in heaven, as he is on earth, by divinity, but in him, we can be there by love.

He did not leave heaven when he came down to us; nor did he withdraw from us when he went up again into heaven. The fact that he was in heaven even while he was on earth is borne out by his own statement: No one has ever ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven. These words are explained by our oneness with Christ, for he is our head and we are his body. No one ascended into heaven except Christ because we also are Christ: he is the Son of Man by his union with us, and we by our union with him are sons of God. 

So the Apostle says: Just as the human body, which has many members, is a unity, because all the different members make one body, so is it also with Christ. He too has many members, but one body. Out of compassion for us he descended from heaven, and although he ascended alone, we also ascend, because we are in him by grace. Thus, no one but Christ descended and no one but Christ ascended; not because there is no distinction between the head and the body, but because the body as a unity cannot be separated from the head."

From a sermon by Saint Augustine, bishop (Sermo de Ascensione Domini, Mai 98, 1-7: PLS 2, 429-495) 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Daily Thought For May 27, 2017

Without A Vision The People Perish
     My dear friends, God’s creation is one and it is good. The concerns for non-violence, sustainable development, justice and peace, and care for our environment are of vital importance for humanity. They cannot, however, be understood apart from a profound reflection upon the innate dignity of every human life from conception to natural death: a dignity conferred by God himself and thus inviolable. Our world has grown weary of greed, exploitation and division, of the tedium of false idols and piecemeal responses, and the pain of false promises. Our hearts and minds are yearning for a vision of life where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion. This is the work of the Holy Spirit! This is the hope held out by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is to bear witness to this reality that you were created anew at Baptism and strengthened through the gifts of the Spirit at Confirmation. Let this be the message that you bring from Sydney to the world!
 
WELCOMING CELEBRATION BY THE YOUNG PEOPLE
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Barangaroo, Sydney Harbour
Thursday, 17 July 2008

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Daily Thought For May 24, 2017

Hope & The Road To Emmaus

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today I would like to reflect on the experience of the two disciples of Emmaus, of which Luke’s Gospel speaks (Cf. 24:13-35). Let us imagine the scene: two men are walking disappointed, sad, convinced of leaving behind them the bitterness of an event that ended badly. Before that Passover they were full of enthusiasm: convinced that those days would have been decisive for their expectations and for the hope of all the people. Jesus, to whom they had entrusted their life, seemed to have arrived finally to the decisive battle: now He would have manifested His power, after a long period of preparation and hiddenness. This is what they were expecting, and it was not so.

The two pilgrims nourished only a human hope, which was now shattered. That cross, raised on Calvary, was the most eloquent sign of a defeat, which they had not foreseen. If that Jesus was truly according to God’s heart, they had to conclude that God was helpless, defenseless in the hands of the violent, incapable of opposing resistance to evil.

So, that Sunday morning, these two fled from Jerusalem. In their eyes they still had the events of the Passion, Jesus’ death; and in their mind the painful vexation of those events, during the obligatory rest of the Sabbath. That Passover feast, which should intone the song of liberation, was transformed, instead, into the most painful day of their life. They left Jerusalem to go elsewhere, to a tranquil village. They had all the aspect of persons intent on removing a searing memory. So they are on the road, and walk, sad.

This scene – the road – was already important in the Gospel accounts; now it would become even more so, at the moment in which the history of the Church begins to be told.

Jesus’ encounter with those two disciples seems to be altogether fortuitous: it is like the many crossroads that happen in life. The two disciples are walking deep in thought and someone unknown comes beside them. It is Jesus, but their eyes are unable to recognize Him. And then Jesus begins His “therapy of hope.” What happens on this road is a therapy of hope. Who does it? Jesus.

First of all, He asks and listens: our God is not an invading God. Although He already knows the reason of the disappointment of those two, He gives them the time to be able to fathom the depth of the bitterness that has befallen them. A confession issues from it that is a refrain of human existence: “We had hoped but . . .  We had hoped but . . .“ (v. 21). How much sadness, how many defeats, how many failures there are in the life of every person! At bottom we are all somewhat like those two disciples. How many times in life we have hoped, how many times we have felt one step away from happiness, and then we have found ourselves disappointed on earth. But Jesus walks with all disheartened persons who walk with their head lowered. And, walking with them in a discreet way, He succeeds in giving them hope again.

Jesus speaks to them first of all through the Scriptures. Whoever takes God’s Book in hand will not come across stories of easy heroism, lightning campaigns of conquest. True hope is never at a low price: it always passes through defeats. The hope of someone who does not suffer, perhaps is not even such. God does not like to be loved as one would love a leader, who drags his people to victory annihilating his adversaries in blood. Our God is a faint light that burns on a cold and windy day, and although His presence in this world seems fragile, He has chosen the place that we all disdain.

Then Jesus repeats for the two disciples the cardinal gesture of every Eucharist: He took the bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it. Is not the whole story of Jesus in this series of gestures? And is there not, in every Eucharist, also the sign of what the Church should be? Jesus takes us, blesses us, “breaks” our life – because there is no love without sacrifice – and offers it to others, to all.

Jesus’ encounter with the two disciples of Emmaus is fleeting, but in it is the whole destiny of the Church. It tells us that the Christian community is not shut-in in a fortified citadel, but walks in her most vital environment, namely the road. And there she encounters persons, with their hopes and their disappointments, sometimes heavy. The Church listens to everyone’s story, as they emerge from the chest of the personal conscience, to then offer the Word of life, the witness of the love of God, faithful love to the end. And then persons’ heart burns again with hope.


All of us have had difficult, dark moments in our life; moments in which we walked sad, deep in thought, without horizons, with only a wall before us. And Jesus is always beside us to give us hope, to warm our heart and say: “Go on, I am with you. Go on.” The secret of the road that leads to Emmaus is all here: even through contrary appearances, we continue to be loved, and God will never stop loving us. God will always walk with us, always, also in the most painful moments, also in the most awful moments, also in moments of defeat: the Lord is there. And this is our hope. We go on with this hope! Because He is beside us and walks with us, always!

General Audience of Pope Francis, May 24, 2017

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Daily Thought For May 21, 2017

On The Coming of The Holy Spirit

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today’s Gospel (Cf. John 14:15-21), continuation of last Sunday’s, takes us to that moving and dramatic moment, which is Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples. John the Evangelist gathers from the Lord’s mouth and heart His last teachings, before His Passion and Death. Jesus promises His friends, in that sad, dark moment, that, after Him, they will receive “another Paraclete” (v. 16). This word means another “Advocate,” another Defender, another Consoler: “the Spirit of truth” (v. 17); and He adds” “I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you” (v. 18). These words transmit the joy of a new coming of Christ: He, risen and glorified, abides in the Father and, at the same time, comes to us in the Holy Spirit. And in this, His new coming, our union with Him and with the Father is revealed: “In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you” (v. 20).

Meditating on these words of Jesus, we perceive ourselves today with a sense of faith of being the People of God in communion with the Father and with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. In this mystery of communion the Church finds the inexhaustible source of her mission, which is realized through love. In today’s Gospel Jesus says: “He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (v. 21). It is love that introduces us in knowledge of Jesus, thanks to the action of this “Advocate” that Jesus has sent, namely, the Holy Spirit. The Gospel’s greatest commandment is love of God and of our neighbor. The Lord calls us today to correspond generously to the evangelical call of love, putting God at the center of our life and dedicating ourselves to the service of brethren, especially those most in need of support and consolation.

If there is an attitude that is never easy, that is never taken for granted, including in a Christian community, it is in fact to be able to love, to love on the example of the Lord and with His grace. Sometimes the contrasts, pride, envies, divisions also leave a sign on the Church’s beautiful face. A community of Christians should live in Christ’s charity and, instead, it is in fact there that the Evil One “puts his paw” and we, sometimes, let ourselves be deceived, and those that pay the price are the spiritually weakest persons. How many of them – and you console some of them –, how many of them have distanced themselves because they do not feel welcomed, they do not feel understood, they do not feel loved. How many persons have distanced themselves, for instance, from some parishes or communities because of an environment of gossip, of jealousies, of envies that they have found there. For a Christian also, to be able to love is never a fact acquired once and for all. One must begin again every day; we must exercise ourselves so that our love for the brothers and sisters we encounter may become mature and purified of those limits and sins that render it partial, egoistic, sterile and unfaithful. Every day the art of loving must be learnt. Listen to this: every day the art of loving must be learnt; every day Christ’s school of patience must be followed, every day one must forgive and look at Jesus and this with the help of this “Advocate,” of this Consoler that Jesus has sent us who is the Holy Spirit.


May the Virgin Mary, perfect disciple of her Son and Lord, help us to be ever more docile to the Paraclete, the Spirit of truth, to learn every day to love one another as Jesus has loved us.

Pope Francis Regina Coeli May 21, 2017

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Daily Thought For May 20, 2017

Living Out Our Baptism!

The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized sanctifying grace, the grace of justification: 

— enabling them to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him through the theological virtues;

giving them the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit;

— allowing them to grow in goodness through the moral virtues.

Thus the whole organism of the Christian’s supernatural life has its roots in Baptism.

Catholic Church. (2000). Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd Ed., p. 322). Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference. #1266

Friday, May 19, 2017

Daily Thought For May 19, 2017

The Characteristics of A Loving Heart

A truly loving heart loves God's good pleasure, not only in consolations but also in afflictions, trials and crosses. In fact, in such cases it even loves more. Love does just this; it makes the lover ready to suffer for the beloved.

St. Francis de Sales

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Daily Thought For May 18, 2017

Pope Francis' Tweet For Today

God makes His most beautiful flowers grow among the driest stones. 


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Daily Thought For May 17, 2017

Strength For Today
 
     O my God, fill my soul with holy joy, courage and strength to serve You. Enkindle Your love in me and then walk with me along the next stretch of road before me. I do not see very far ahead, but when I have arrived where the horizon now closes down, a new prospect will open before me, and I shall meet it with peace.
 
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Daily Thought For May 16, 2017

A Dilemma For Every Generation
     
 
Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. 
 
Leo Tolstoy

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Daily Thought For May 13, 2017

How Faith In Christ Radically Transforms Our Life
   
Faith’s new way of seeing things is centred on Christ. Faith in Christ brings salvation because in him our lives become radically open to a love that precedes us, a love that transforms us from within, acting in us and through us. This is clearly seen in Saint Paul’s exegesis of a text from Deuteronomy, an exegesis consonant with the heart of the Old Testament message. Moses tells the people that God’s command is neither too high nor too far away. There is no need to say: "Who will go up for us to heaven and bring it to us?" or "Who will go over the sea for us, and bring it to us?" (Dt 30:11-14). Paul interprets this nearness of God’s word in terms of Christ’s presence in the Christian. "Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead)" (Rom 10:6-7). Christ came down to earth and rose from the dead; by his incarnation and resurrection, the Son of God embraced the whole of human life and history, and now dwells in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Faith knows that God has drawn close to us, that Christ has been given to us as a great gift which inwardly transforms us, dwells within us and thus bestows on us the light that illumines the origin and the end of life.
We come to see the difference, then, which faith makes for us. Those who believe are transformed by the love to which they have opened their hearts in faith. By their openness to this offer of primordial love, their lives are enlarged and expanded. "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Gal 2:20). "May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith" (Eph 3:17). The self-awareness of the believer now expands because of the presence of another; it now lives in this other and thus, in love, life takes on a whole new breadth. Here we see the Holy Spirit at work. The Christian can see with the eyes of Jesus and share in his mind, his filial disposition, because he or she shares in his love, which is the Spirit. In the love of Jesus, we receive in a certain way his vision. Without being conformed to him in love, without the presence of the Spirit, it is impossible to confess him as Lord (cf. 1 Cor 12:3).
From The Encyclical of Pope Francis Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith) #20-21

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Daily Thought for May 9, 2017

The Grace of Perseverance

The Voice of Christ:
My child, only he who perseveres to the end will be saved. Good resolutions will not help you unless they are followed right to the end of life.

With the help of My grace, be determined to follow My will in your daily life. Follow it regardless of feelings. Moods and feelings will change with the changing hour of the day, but your will must stand firm in loyalty to Me.

Sometimes you will enjoy what I send you, and sometimes you will dislike it. At times you will be eager to obey me, and at other times you will be sluggish. Yet your will can rise, with the help of My grace, above these changing feelings. Your true worth is proved by a determined effort to follow your good resolutions.

The Fathers of the desert learned this heavenly wisdom long ago. Never were they fooled by the devil’s temptations nor by the self-deception of their human nature. By prayer, fasting, penance, and work, they overcame the enemies within them and outside them. With eyes fixed on Me, they saw heaven as their goal,  and they made their daily life a journey toward eternal happiness

You too will be tempted to abandon your good resolutions. You will fear for your health, worry about your friends, be disturbed by human opinions, and become troubled about imagined dangers.

Follow My advice. Keep yourself busy with prayer, self-denial, and good works. I will soon send you greater graces and you will find yourself closer to Me than before.

For the present walk in faith, hope, and obedient charity. Later you will realize that the trials which troubled you were actually good for you. They help you to see which virtues you really possess and which are still needed in your daily life.


Think:
It is after I have made my resolutions that the battle begins. Not only will the devil tempt me more, but I shall also have to take misunderstandings, and even bad will, from neighbors who resent my change for the better. My worst enemy, however, will be my own human nature. It will dislike the harder course of action which I’m now following. My imagination, my old habits, my likes and dislikes, these will cooperate in order to make me abandon my resolutions. On such occasions I ought to get busy with some activity which will help me overcome, or at least disregard my lower nature’s rebellion. God will send me light and strength in due time if only I will hold onto my resolutions in the present darkness of fears, doubts, and dislikes.


Pray:
My Jesus, there are no words to describe the grandeur and glory which await those who follow your holy will in their daily life. That is why you have never tried to tell us what it is like. When we enter into your glorious heaven, we too will say with St. Paul did know why on earth has ever seen, no ear has ever heard, nor has anyone in this world even imagined what you have prepared for your loyal followers. Yes, no matter what suffering we may endure in this life, these sufferings will never be great enough to earn the smallest joy of heaven. Grant me the wisdom to keep my eyes on that goal, so that I may never become discouraged or cowardly in life's daily battle. Amen.


from My Daily Bread pp.296-298

Monday, May 8, 2017

Daily Thought For May 8, 2017

How The Holy Spirit Moves

The truths of the Church forge ahead: they are strengthened with years, develop with time, become profound with age, and because they grow stronger with time and years and broaden with time and become more prominent with the age of the Church.

St. Vincent of Lerins

Friday, May 5, 2017

Daily Thought For May 5, 2017

Hope Is Always For Others

Our hope is always essentially also hope for others; only thus is it truly hope for me too . As Christians we should never limit ourselves to asking: how can I save myself? We should also ask: what can I do in order that others may be saved and that for them too the star of hope may rise? Then I will have done my utmost for my own personal salvation as well.


Benedict XVI. (2007). Spe Salvi. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana. #48

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Daily Thought For May 4, 2017

Our Words Reflect Our Soul

Our words are a faithful index of the state of our souls.

St. Francis de Sales

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Daily Thought For May 3, 2017

We Have An Incredible Destiny!

Life is not governed by chance; it is not random. Your very existence has been willed by God, blessed and given a purpose! Life is not just a succession of events or experiences. It is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful. It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this - in truth, in goodness, and in beauty - that we find happiness and joy.


Pope Benedict XVI

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Daily Thought For May 2, 2107

The Cross - Sign Of God's Love
 
     Dear young friends, may Christ’s love for us increase your joy and encourage you to go in search of those less fortunate. You are open to the idea of sharing your lives with others, so be sure not to pass by on the other side in the face of human suffering, for it is here that God expects you to give of your very best: your capacity for love and compassion. The different forms of suffering that have unfolded before our eyes in the course of this Way of the Cross are the Lord’s way of summoning us to spend our lives following in his footsteps and becoming signs of his consolation and salvation. “To suffer with the other and for others; to suffer for the sake of truth and justice; to suffer out of love and in order to become a person who truly loves — these are fundamental elements of humanity, and to abandon them would destroy man himself” (ibid.).
     Let us eagerly welcome these teachings and put them into practice. Let us look upon Christ, hanging on the harsh wood of the Cross, and let us ask him to teach us this mysterious wisdom of the Cross, by which man lives. The Cross was not a sign of failure, but an expression of self-giving in love that extends even to the supreme sacrifice of one’s life. The Father wanted to show his love for us through the embrace of his crucified Son: crucified out of love. The Cross, by its shape and its meaning, represents this love of both the Father and the Son for men. Here we recognize the icon of supreme love, which teaches us to love what God loves and in the way that he loves: this is the Good News that gives hope to the world.
 
Pope Benedict XVI - World Youth Day 2011 - The Way Of The Cross