Dear Holy Spirit, my God, teach me to talk well and wisely. Let me avoid useless conversations. Help me to speak often of You. Grant that my words may never hurt people of good will. May my words always bring consolation to those in sorrow, guidance to those who are confused, light to the ignorant, hope to those who despair, comfort to those who are troubled, and good advice to those in need. Take my lips and make them Yours. Take possession of my mind and make it an instrument of Your goodness and a channel of Your truth. I hope to become a person of silence, that is, one who prefers to talk to God rather than to people. In my human conversations, may I always bring You closer to them and them closer to You. Amen.
Apply yourself attentively to pray for all rational creatures, for the mystical body of the holy church, and for those friends whom I have given you, whom you love with particular love. And be careful not to be negligent in giving them the benefit of your prayers, the example of your life, and the teaching of your words, reproving vice and encouraging virtue according to your power.
If you should temporarily lose your sense of well-being, don't be too quick to despair. With humility and patience, wait for God, who is able to give you back even more profound comfort.
There is nothing novel about this to those who are familiar with God's ways. The great saints and ancient prophets frequently experienced the alternation of up and down, joy and sorrow. One of them, while he was enjoying a mountain-top experience said: When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken." O LORD, when you favored me, you made my mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.
And yet, even while he was going through this, he did not feel crushed. With renewed passion he prayed: Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me; O LORD, be my help.
In time, his prayer was answered. This is his report: You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.
If the great saints are exposed to such variations, we who are poor and weak should not be discouraged if our spiritual life fails to be uniformly ecstatic. The Holy Spirit gives and takes according to his own divine purpose. I have never met anyone so religious and devout that he has not felt occasionally some withdrawing of grace.
Thomas à Kempis: The Imitation of Christ Book II Chapter 9
There are moments in every person's life when we are filled with self-disgust, when consciousness of failure tears the mask from self-assurance and self-justification, and reality stands revealed-even if only for a moment. Occasionally such a moment produces a permanent change and the mask is not resumed. Our natural tendency is to avoid these moments of truth. Pride, cowardice, and above all an intuitive feeling that the only way out of a situation will be to humble oneself and submit, tempt a person to declare reality unreal and to pronounce the counterfeit genuine.
The shock may come when a great wrong, or a succession of mischances, has sapped a person's self-confidence and forced him to take a closer look at himself. Everything depends on whether he takes this seriously or passes it off as a moment of 'weakness' from which he speedily 'recovers.' In that case his last state is worse than his first-he becomes immunized to error, no longer able to distinguish the false from the true. Then we get clichés like 'self-determination,' the 'right to live,' 'hunger for life,' and so on. When this happens in the case of a gifted person, he can easily become an evil influence leading others astray, scattering sparks that ignite the inflammable material and bring about historic catastrophes. Such individuals are capable of dragging whole generations to ruin. Their contemporaries suddenly find themselves in a vicious circle, sharing responsibility for evils they are unable to rectify.
On the other hand by divine grace a person may be suddenly raised to a consciousness of how near he is to God. Then, too, he is bound to be shocked by the truth of his own unworthiness. None of us can escape the admission that we have made sad mistakes and to some extent bungled our lives. By acknowledging their fault humans recognize their weakness and their dependence on divine help, and recognize also the danger of concluding an easy peace with the weaknesses of their own nature. Coming to terms with things our conscience cannot approve means that we must share the responsibility for them because they have our assent.
(Fr. Alfred Delp, S.J., Magnificat, October 2017, p. 177-178.)
Christianity teaches us to work from within to the outward and not vice versa; the perfect life, whether individual or social, cannot be attained through any programme imposed externally: spiritual rebirth is essential and it proceeds from freedom and grace. Compulsion will never make good Christians or a Christian social order; there must be an effective and real change in the hearts of persons and of peoples, and the realization of this perfect life is a task of infinite difficulty and endless duration.
When the hurricane rages and we find ourselves faced with similar situations; when all our efforts seem to be achieving nothing, we must follow the example of the Apostles, turn to Jesus and put all our trust in him: Save, Lord; we are perishing. Then we will feel the effectiveness of his infinite power and will be filled with confidence and serenity.
Why are you afraid, 0 men of little faith? He says to his followers, when He sees them overcome with anxiety and convinced that they are sinking. Why are you afraid if I am with you? He is the certainty of certainties. It is enough to be with him in his boat, where He can see us, for us to overcome all the fears we have and the difficulties we may encounter, when we are overwhelmed by meagre results and worry, by trials, by a sense of being misunderstood and by temptations. A lack of trustful certainty only makes its appearance when our faith is weak. Such weakness does bring with it a lack of trust. Precisely at such moments we may forget that the greater the difficulty, the more powerful God's help will be. This will always be the case when we strive to live fully our vocation as Christians, whatever our situation. .. in our family life, in our daily work ... , in carrying out our apostolate.
Jesus wants to see us filled with his peace and serenity, at all times and in all circumstances. Do not be afraid, it is I, He says to his disciples, who are terrified by huge seas. On another occasion He says: I tell you, my friends, do not fear? From the moment of his entry into the world He showed what his presence among men would be like. The message of the Incarnation begins precisely with these words: Do not be afraid, Mary?And the Angel of the Lord was to say to Joseph: Joseph, son of David, do not fear. 'To the shepherds He would say once again: Be not afraid? We cannot be afraid of anything. Even the holy fear of God is a form of love; it is nothing but the fear of losing him.
From In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez Volume 4 pp. 30-31
In our daily relationships with people, cheerfulness, which we show by smiling at the right moment or by being pleasant to those we encounter, opens the door for many souls who are on the point of closing themselves to any sort of dialogue or understanding. Cheerfulness encourages people and helps them in their work, and assists in overcoming the numerous reverses that life sometimes brings. A person who habitually lets himself succumb to gloominess and pessimism and does not struggle to overcome it straightaway, will be a dead weight, something of a morbid liability for others. Cheerfulness enriches other people, because it is the expression of an interior richness that is not improvised, stemming as it does from the deep conviction that we are, and recognize that we are, children of God. Many people have found God through the joy and the peace emanating from Christians they come in contact with.
from In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez Volume 3 p.37
Remember to take a few moments inwardly even as you are busy at your occupation. A crowd of people around will not be able to intrude upon this private act. King David was busy with many responsibilities and yet he often says in his psalms, Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand; I have set the LORD always before me; my eyes are ever on the LORD.
We will often not be too busy to turn aside to God for an instant. In fact, we can present our souls to him a thousand times a day. Sprinkle a seasoning of short prayers on your daily living. If you see something beautiful, thank God for it. If you are aware of someone’s need, ask God to help. St. Francis looked at a stream of water and prayed, “God’s grace flows just as gently and sweetly as this brook.” You can toss up many such prayers all day long. They will help you in your meditation and in your secular employment as well. Make a habit of it.
God does not lay a great burden on us ― a little thinking of him, a little adoration, sometimes to pray for grace, sometimes to offer him your sorrows, sometimes to thank him for the good things he does. Lift up your heart to him even at meals and when you
are in company. The least little remembrance will always be acceptable to him. You don't have to be loud. He is nearer to us than you think.
You don't have to be in church all the time in order to be with God. We can make a chapel in our heart, where we can withdraw from time to time and converse with him in meekness, humility, and love. Everyone has the capacity for such intimate conversation with God, some more, some less. He knows what we can do. Get started. Maybe he is just waiting for one strong resolution on your part. Have courage.
I don't know what is to become of me. Peace of soul descends on me even in my sleep. I can't imagine what God has in mind for me, or for what purpose he keeps me. I am in such a profound calm that I fear nothing. What can frighten me when I am with God? I try to stay with him, in his presence, as much as possible.
Brother Lawrence: The Practice of the Presence of God
I would encourage you to nurture the two obvious aspects of meekness―humbly accepting God’s will and practicing moderation in your own needs and demands. Ask yourself these questions as a way to measure meekness in your own life: 1. Are you willing to accept where God has placed you, to be at peace with it, and to do the best you can wherever you are? 2. Are you a person of moderation, one who doesn’t do anything to such an excess that you unduly become a cause of discomfort for others? 3. Are you willing in imitation of Christ to surrender even moderation in favor of self-denial when you face the demands of justice or of Christian charity? As you make these two qualities your aim―especially the acceptance of God’s will―you will find yourself advancing in the spiritual life. You will experience a deepening inner composure that helps you to pray and to do the will of God. And you will gradually experience more of God’s light illuminating the pathway of your own spiritual journey.
from Quiet Moments with Benedict Groeschel 120 Readings #21
The Lord can leave us wanting relative to certain things (sometimes judged indispensable in the eyes of the world), but He never leaves us deprived of what is essential: His presence, His peace and all that is necessary for the complete fulfillment of our lives, according to His plans for us.
Fr. Jacques Philippe, Searching for and Maintaining Peace
The responses given to the two pre-synodal consultations spoke of a great variety of situations and the new challenges that they pose. In addition to those already mentioned, many of the respondents pointed to the problems families face in raising children. In many cases, parents come home exhausted, not wanting to talk, and many families no longer even share a common meal. Distractions abound, including an addiction to television. This makes it all the more difficult for parents to hand on the faith to their children. Other responses pointed to the effect of severe stress on families, who often seem more caught up with securing their future than with enjoying the present. This is a broader cultural problem, aggravated by fears about steady employment, finances and the future of children. Drug use was also mentioned as one of the scourges of our time, causing immense suffering and even breakup for many families. The same is true of alcoholism, gambling and other addictions. The family could be the place where these are prevented and overcome, but society and politics fail to see that families at risk “lose the ability to act to help their members… We see the serious effects of this breakdown in families torn apart, the young uprooted and the elderly abandoned, children who are orphans of living parents, adolescents and young adults confused and unsupported.” As the Bishops of Mexico have pointed out, violence within families breeds new forms of social aggression, since “family relationships can also explain the tendency to a violent personality. This is often the case with families where communication is lacking, defensive attitudes predominate, the members are not supportive of one another, family activities that encourage participation are absent, the parental relationship is frequently conflictual and violent, and relationships between parents and children are marked by hostility. Violence within the family is a breeding-ground of resentment and hatred in the most basic human relationships”
Lord God, you blessed Elizabeth Seton with gifts of grace as wife and mother, educator and foundress, so that she might spend her life in service to your people. Through her example and prayers may we learn to express our love for you in love for our fellow men and women. We ask 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. Opening Collect from The Roman Missal Memorial of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton