As we seek to imitate the Lord we Christians should be ready to give cheerful service to God and other people without expecting anything in return. We should serve even those who do not appreciate our help. Many will not understand our cheerful attitude of self-denial. We should be content in the knowledge that Christ knows full well the efforts we are making on his behalf. The pride of a Christian is precisely in this dimension: to serve as the Master served. Yet we learn how to serve only when we are close to Jesus.
from In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez Volume 5 p.271
Prayer For Renewed Faith In Jesus Christ
Lord Jesus come into my heart. I desire that You be the Lord of my life so that I may be a Child of the light to know you as my personal Savior – for I know and believe that You died on the cross for my sins. You rose again from the dead on the third day and You are coming again glory.
I believe in your forgiveness and I desire that You help me to refrain from any temptations that would keep me separated from Your everlasting love.
Set aside for a minute Peter and John’s arrest and their night in custody. Ignore the leaders’ and elders’ indignation and the bystanders’ wonder and amazement. Consider instead the beggar who was healed. Everyone recognized this man. He routinely begged for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. For his whole life, he was utterly dependent on other people to get around, to be fed, to be clothed and cared for. All he hoped for from Peter and John was a few coins, a little food, or a cast-off piece of clothing. What this fellow received was not just a physical healing but a whole new life. No longer bound by his disability, he could move on his own. He was no longer powerless or weak, no longer unable to make his way in life. Delivered from hopelessness, he could now rise out of his poverty. Freedom, choices, relief from want and pain—he received so much more than he had asked for or, most likely, so much more than he had imagined he would ever experience. The same is true for you! Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, a whole new life is now open to you. You can be set free from handicaps of bitterness and resentment. The fears and anxieties and misgivings that preoccupy you don’t have to bind you or paralyze you anymore. You no longer have to feel powerless in the face of anger or addictions or lust. In the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified, whom God raised from the dead, you can be healed! Christ lives in you. His grace can empower you to resist temptation and be set free from anything that hampers you from feeling his Spirit. Call out to him, just as the beggar called out to Peter and John for alms. Believe that Jesus is standing right in front of you, offering you not silver and gold but the riches of love and joy, patience and self-control. Tell yourself that you belong to Christ and that he wants to set you free. Confess your insufficiency to him, and watch closely to see how he answers you. And then, just as the beggar did, praise him for his goodness to you! “Jesus, in you alone am I saved. Help me to live a new life, unbound by my sins and weaknesses.”
Daily Reflection from The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) April 24, 2014
Be as delicate as you can with our Lord. Watch your conduct most carefully to avoid all venial sins. But, for the love of God, do this without losing confidence and peace.
I recommend this counsel to such a degree that, if it were necessary to lose these two goods, confidence and peace, in order to arrive at this exquisite delicacy, I maintain that it would be preferable to restrain one’s efforts for a while. For peace of soul and confidence in God are more necessary goods, so they should be preferred.… No doubt someone will say: How is it possible to feel that keen grief for one’s offense against God, yet have the confidence necessary to cast oneself into the arms of our Lord, without any misgivings or reserve? I will try to explain.
The foundation of our confidence does not rest in us, but in God. Hence we trust in our Lord and we draw near to him, tranquil and sure, not because of what we are, but because of what he is. We can be miserable sinners, wayward and headstrong. But our ingratitude, our sins, and our wrongdoing should not diminish at all the trust that we should have in our Lord, for the simple reason that our trust is not based in ourselves but in him. Jesus is the same forever, ever good, ever loving, ever merciful. I was the one who changed, but these changes in no way affect my confidence, since my confidence is based on God, not on myself.…
We have confidence in God because of his goodness, mercy, and love. And does God cease to be good and merciful because I am weak, inconstant, and miserable? Impossible!… We are trying to judge God in a human manner. We would measure his divine heart with the yardstick of our petty heart, and it is not God’s yardstick. We, of course, conduct ourselves with everyone according to his merits. We are good toward those who treat us well, and we are indifferent toward strangers. Only virtue can keep us from being hostile toward our enemies. In order that our hearts may love, they must always take into account those which reside in others. For our love has its basis in the things that we love—in the goodness that they possess, or seem to possess. But that is not the basis of God’s love. The measure and the reason of his love does not reside in things or in us; they are in him and in him alone.…
I maintain that if an angel should come from God to tell any of us, “God no longer loves you; hence do not confide in him,” we must not believe him. For above this feigned revelation stands the words of Jesus, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Mk 13:31). Jesus is the one who brought us a message from heaven. He came to tell us that God loves us with an infinite love, with an eternal love. He loves us to the extent of giving us his own Son, and delivering him to death for love of us. —Excerpts from Secrets of the Interior Life, pp. 34–39, 41
Martinez, L. (2011). Secrets of the Spirit: Wisdom from Luis Martinez. (G. Santos, Ed.) (pp. 11–13). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.
Grant me, O Lord, good digestion, and also something to digest. Grant me a healthy body, and the necessary good humor to maintain it. Grant me a simple soul that knows to treasure all that is good and that doesn’t frighten easily at the sight of evil, but rather finds the means to put things back in their place. Give me a soul that knows not boredom, grumblings, sighs and laments, nor excess of stress, because of that obstructing thing called “I.” Grant me, O Lord, a sense of good humor. Allow me the grace to be able to take a joke to discover in life a bit of joy,
When God created the world, he commanded each tree to bear its own specific fruit (cf. Gn 1:12); and likewise he bids Christians, the living trees of his Church, to bring forth fruits of loyal discipleship, each one according to his circumstances and vocation. A different exercise of discipleship is required of all, and this discipleship must be adapted to the strength, the occupation, and the duties of each individual. I ask you, would it be fitting that a bishop should seek to lead the solitary life of a monk? What if the father of a family were as unconcerned in making material provision for the family’s future as a vowed religious. Or if workers spent all day in church. Would not such practices be exaggerated and impossible to carry out? Yet such a mistake is often made, and the world, which cannot or will not distinguish between real discipleship and the indiscretion of those who consider themselves devout, grumbles and finds fault with a disciple’s life, which is in no way connected to these errors. True discipleship hinders no one; on the contrary, it perfects everything; and that which runs counter to the rightful vocation of any person is, you may be sure, a mistaken devotion. Aristotle says that the bee sucks honey from flowers without damaging them, leaving them as whole and fresh as it found them. True discipleship does better still, for it not only interferes with no vocation or duty, but it adorns and beautifies them all. Throw precious stones into honey, and each will grow more brilliant according to its color; in the same way, everyone fulfills their own special calling better when done in a spirit of discipleship—family duties are lighter, married love is deeper, service to our country more faithful, in short every kind of occupation becomes more acceptable and better performed where this loyal discipleship is the guide. It is an error to seek to banish spirituality from the soldier’s guardroom, the merchant’s shop, the offices of government, or the family home. Of course, a purely contemplative devotion, such as is proper to the religious and monastic life, cannot be followed in these secular voca-tions, but there are various types of spirituality well suited to lead those whose calling is secular along the paths of perfection. The Old Testament gives us examples in Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Job, Tobias, Sarah, Rebecca, and Judith. And in the New Testament, we read of Saint Joseph, Lydia, and Saint Crispin, who led perfectly devout lives while carrying out their trades. We have Saint Anne, Martha, Saint Monica, Aquila, and Priscilla, as examples of holiness in the heart of the family, Cornelius, Saint Sebastian, and Saint Maurice among soldiers, and Constantine, Saint Helena, Saint Louis, and Saint Edward as examples among leaders. We even find instances of some who fell away in solitude, usually so helpful to perfection, and some who had reached the heights of spiritual life in the world, which seems so antagonistic to it. Be sure that wherever we may be, we can and must aim at the perfect life. St. Francis de Sales—Excerpt from Introduction to the Devout Life, Part 1: Chapter 3
Francis de Sales. (2012). Courage in Chaos: Wisdom from Francis de Sales. (K. Hermes, Ed.) (pp. 13–15). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.
In the depth of our soul, there always remains the tendency to measure divine things by our human standard. Hence, with each new revelation of our misery, our confusion increases, and we would gladly close our eyes in order not to see—just as certain sick people do not wish to know of their illness because they feel that not to know it is not to have it, as though the knowledge of one’s malady were not in itself the beginning of a serious cure. For this reason souls become dismayed at temptations, desolations, aridities, faults—in a word, at everything that gives them the impression they are falling lower. They wish to ascend, because they desire to arrive at the summit, because they burn to be united with God. Therefore, in perceiving that they are apparently descending under the impact of temptations, the weight of their faults, and the void in their souls caused by desolations, they grow confused and grieve because they forget the divine paradoxes of the spiritual life. Fortunately God does not always heed our protests and our cries of anguish. Instead he pours out upon us those precious graces, even though they may be bitter, which involve temptations, aridities, and even faults, as a mother, despite the wailing and the protests of her child, firmly applies the painful remedy that will give him health. Someday we shall understand that among the greatest graces God has given us in our life are precisely those disconcerting ones which make us think that God is abandoning us, when, on the contrary, he is attracting us; those which cause us to judge that we are falling away from our ideal, when, on the contrary, we are drawing nearer to the sweet goal of our hopes. O souls eager for perfection, do not weary of humbling yourselves. Have no fear of whatever plunges you into the depth of your misery!
What great joy and consolation are offered us by the words of Saint John that we just heard: God so loves us that that he has made us his children, and, when we see him face-to-face, we shall discover all the more the greatness of his love (cf. 1 Jn 3:1-10.19-22). Not only that. The love of God is always greater than anything we can imagine; it even reaches beyond any sin with which our conscience may charge us. His is an infinite love, one that knows no bounds. It is free of all those obstacles that we, for our part, tend to set in front of others, out of fear that they may strip us of our freedom. We know that the state of sin distances us from God. But in fact, sin is the way that we distance ourselves from him. Yet that does not mean that God distances himself from us. The state of weakness and confusion that results from sin is one more reason for God to remain close to us. The certainty of this should accompany us throughout our lives. The words of the Apostle are a reassuring confirmation that our hearts should trust, always and unhesitatingly, in the Father’s love: “No matter what our hearts may charge us with, God is greater than our hearts” (v. 20). His grace is constantly at work in us, to strengthen our hope that his love will never be lacking, in spite of any sin we may have committed by rejecting his presence in our lives. It is this hope that makes us realize at times that our life has lost its direction, as Peter did in the Gospel account that we heard. “And immediately the cock crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, ‘Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times’. And he went out and wept bitterly” (Mt 26:74-75). The evangelist is extremely sober. The crowing of the cock startles a man who is bewildered; he then recalls the words of Jesus, and at last the curtain is lifted. Peter begins to glimpse through his tears that God is revealed in Christ, who is buffeted and insulted, whom he himself has denied, yet who now goes off to die for him. Peter, who wanted to die for Jesus, now realizes that he must let Jesus die for him. Peter wanted to teach the Master; he wanted to go before him. Instead, it is Jesus who goes off to die for Peter. Peter had not understood this; he didn’t want to understand it. Peter is now confronted with the Lord’s charity. Finally he understands that the Lord loves him and asks him to let himself be loved. Peter realizes that he had always refused to let himself be loved. He had always refused to let himself be saved by Jesus alone, and so he did not want Jesus to love him completely. How truly difficult it is to let ourselves be loved! We would always like a part of us to be freed of the debt of gratitude, while in reality we are completely indebted, because God loved us first and, with love, he saves us completely. Let us now ask the Lord for the grace to know the greatness of his love, which wipes away our every sin.
Let us allow ourselves to be purified by love, in order to recognize true love!
Pope Franics —Penitential Celebration March 9, 2018
The Lord did not come to make a display. He came to heal and to teach suffering men. For one who wanted to make a display the thing would have been just to appear and dazzle the beholders. But for Him Who came to heal and to teach the way was not merely to dwell here, but to put Himself at the disposal of those who needed Him, and to be manifested according as they could bear it, not vitiating the value of the Divine appearing by exceeding their capacity to receive it.