Friday, June 7, 2019

"Feed My Shepherds" by : C.C.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter,“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”Jesus said,“Feed my lambs.”Again Jesus said,“Simon son of John, do you love me?”He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”Jesus said,“Take care of my sheep.”The third time he said to him,“Simon son of John, do you love me?”Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time,“Do you love me?”He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”Jesus said,“Feed my sheep.” 

Here Jesus approached Peter with this question after he had been fed. Practically speaking everyone is best on a full stomach, but metaphorically Jesus’s presence, and time with Him was complete nourishment, time for Peter to revisit and have greater introspection on Who this Man was that shared his company, his attentiveness, and growing affection. Peter was fed before He was asked about how he loved Christ. To me this is not accidental or even unintended. Only when we are nourished by the Lord’s love, when our priests are fed and nourished deeply before the Lord, can they offer the sheep anything to eat. The abundance they can give comes from the primacy of their undivided love for Christ. It is intended to be the most important. It is emphasized by Christ three times, yes, as reparation for Peter’s denial of Christ, but this repetitive question is the ongoing one that must face the priest daily. 

If we love Christ, and we love the Church then it is to our priests we should offer the most attentiveness of our prayer, of fasting, reverence, and of honest help, even in the spiritual sense, to help keep them fed. The job of the "lay-man" becomes utilizing their gifts and pursuit of sanctity to help the Church thrive by allowing the priest to be a better Christ. 

And in priestly formation and preparing men for the priesthood it becomes most essential too, to help deepen this experience of love of God, to uphold the inward preparation as vital to the life of the Shepherd, for only from this depth can they be fed, and can they feed perpetually. 

The witness of a reverent, holy man of God, who lives the priesthood authentically, the Priesthood of Christ, with integrity, and sacrifice, and holy love, transforms souls, and gathers the scattered in a way like no program, no app, no new series can. The tragedy of what has gone on in some seminaries is exposing a very core problem. While naturally the anger seems to be at the harm that was caused by these men, if we love Christ, and we love the Church, we would see the importance of preserving Christ’s priesthood as it was intended, not seeking to destroy it. Which seems, at moments to be what is happening in response and angst that we are currently facing. The priesthood is Christ's and it remains pure as Christ's to the measure that we keep it His.

That some live like they are their own, is not the reality of an error in Christ, but the fault of consenting to sin, the reality of superficial love of Christ. Because to one who loves much, then obedience is a sweet burden. 

“Feed My Sheep” has seemed to become the most important and the most primary. Of course, this is essential, people in the pews, people knowing Christ, bills paid, diocese’ thriving. But the sheep and flock are only as good as their Shepherd. And the Shepherd is only as good as his love for Christ. And the Church first and foremost is for salvation, and the food we need to eat is Christ. 

So as the Bishops and priests and the Church at large in North America fumble around trying to make amends for the horror caused by the evil that has seeped through the cracks, there has seemed to be little mention of upholding the priesthood of Christ. The focus is on making reparation for evil, which is undoubtedly necessary, but more emphasis on Christ and keeping the priesthood holy will lead one to help reform the deeper problem much more thoroughly. Because in looking to the priest we will arrive at the sacredness of the Eucharist, the necessity of Christ, there present! We will stare it's absence from the life of the Church in the face, and we will begin to recognize that in being obsessed with "retaining people" we have made a performance out of what is most holy. We have made a "star" out of the priest who no longer, at large, thinks looking to Christ is the deepest need, but rather it is to keep people "happy" and present. It is diluted. Slowly sin trickles in. 

Where there is lack of transforming love for Christ there is disobedience, there is moral apathy, and complete disregard for good. 

There are subtle ways we have begun to starve our priests, with an over-attentiveness to business, failing to walk with them in the early years of their vocation, closely, being sensitive to their spiritual needs and the opportunities that they must have in order to thrive and be fed, This obviously must come from them to some degree, and from their own love of God, but it is not easy, nor is it something that is always the case. The formation years expose young men to a very confined fraternity, companionship, rigor, and routine that aids balance and helps navigate things, even in the spiritual sense. Frequent opportunity for spiritual direction, confession etc. It is laid out for them, it is necessary that this continues to keep them nourished and close to the love of Christ. 

The current climate of the Church at the core exposes the starving Shepherd. We know how to get to the peripheries it seems, but do we know how to preserve the centrality of Christ in the Church? We are called, in my opinion to look deeper here. It is time to look at ongoing formation more deeply and severely. Even when we gather priests, from what I've most heard, it is always centralized on going out, building up the Church, while this is a valid part of the priestly labour, there is evidently more need to focus on the interior, the spiritual life and ordering this in the life of the priest. It is more than numbers in pews. 

Look what the Lord did with His first disciples...thousands of followers followed a few holy men, by their love, their obedience, they gathered. And so it will be with us. Or otherwise what we gather is only another form of scattered and lost sheep, under the guise of holiness with a diluted discipleship, compromising the Truth of Christ’s Church. 

“Do You love me?” 

Nothing more will suffice to live the fullness of life in Christ. Give me a poor Church an empty Church, over a Church filled to the brim empty of God.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Glorious Shadows of Your Saving by:C.C.

Bethany House - Abbey of The Genesee 2018

I taste You in fragments, the joy of You, the glory of You. 

I see You in silhouettes, the dark shadows of Your Cross, the risen joy and glory. 

Here I do not possess all of You, but in the Bread. 

Daily I come mindful of my hunger, to feel something in me of You that will not be fulfilled until my last beginning, 
never to end, 
and that day is Yours completely to determine.

Have I spent any of it as You wished for me,
as God willed for me,
as You called me?

And so here I must labour and toil accepting these brief passings of You
these ideas and notions of You
this faith instructed which You've left us to pursue. 

Still the road is darkened, 
the clarity not mine to possess, 
but if I let You possess me completely, 
how much greater will Your mercy on me be? 

Because I gladly accept this silhouette of You 
this obscure embrace of You,
this cloudy way of knowing that all of it is true.

Lord I give myself everyday to be renewed, 
and I come to Your table, this feast , this banquet , and I leave all of myself there 
that You may lead me on and make me whole, 
full of You and nothing more,
that others might see in me this shadow of You
this good of you, 
a glimpse of Your goodness,a ray of Your joy,
as I walk full of Your Light 
into the great unknown by Love. 


Saturday, November 3, 2018

"What the Hell am I here for?" by:C.C.

"I am caught between the two. I long to depart this life and be with Christ, for that is far better. Yet that I remain in the flesh is more necessary for your benefit. And this I know with confidence, that I shall remain and continue in the service of all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your boasting in Christ Jesus may abound on account of me"(Philippians 1:18-30)

St. Paul well knew his mission. With great clarity and reverence he had pierced open the interior life by radical surrender to God's grace and deep desire to partake in His glory. His mission was one of proclaiming Christ in a manner far reaching, a mission for the good of others and the glory of God. He was given immense light to help us see.

If we remain in the flesh, aware of the goodness of eternal life, what is our purpose? 

We too have a mission to fulfill for the Lord, for the good of God, for others, and truly for the good of our own soul, not yet secured beyond, not yet radiant with the glory of the Saints before us. 

It is presumptuous of us to prematurely yearn to be Home, and not first ardently ask God sincerely, what our purpose is here, which is yet to be actualized.

I remember vividly when heaven became more real to me. Obviously I had faith that it was indeed a reality, but it was a distant one. As the reality of eternal life became more apparent to me I was flooded almost terribly with a sense of sorrow, which to me was totally missing the point. But it was from that moment, sitting in a retreat house in 2013 looking out a window sulking , that I opened my mouth with the most sincere prayer "Then, Lord, what the Hell am I here for?"

I recognized in my sentiment a disordered longing for heaven. Because it was motivated at that time with more of a desire to escape the Cross, than for union with God, and  this to me was a humble awakening. St.Paul understood and pined for heaven with a deep love for union with God, not for the love of himself or as a means to escape difficulty, but he had the honest desire to be one with God.

Faithful awareness of heaven imbues us with our purpose for toil and loving service below.We do not long for heaven to escape the world and become indifferent while here, but find inspiration to share fruits of being secured in the knowledge of the eternal, by sharing the love of Christ.

This humbling lesson was important. It was this realization that also helped me understand what my vocation was. Prior to this I had wrestled immensely with where God was calling me to serve. Ironically such a simple prayer as "What the Hell am I here for?" opened a well of clarity.

If we know of heaven, if we believe in God, if we desire union with Him, then from this our love and compassion for others naturally takes root. Loving charity is needed.

We can then see the importance of praying for all of God's children, even those who have seemed to desert themselves from all goodness. We should strive to walk with joy, letting others gently know that it is God's love that most strengthens and fulfills. 

It is love which they most need. Still, many deny Him and seek tirelessly. Often numbing themselves to the reality of their own emptiness; empty as a result of not knowing God. We deny Him too, in our failure to love. We should pray for others and not judge, for it is Our Lord Who gave us mercy. It is Christ Who dwells within;within the weakness of our humanity so that we are made most strong, by choosing to be receptive to His love for us. In various ways and roles, we are all sent forth by God in charity. With stern instruction by Him we are urged to love.

To share fruits of the knowledge of heaven, to share the goodness that is God's alone. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Holiness Is Happiest by: C.C.

I am being made holy, what use is it to be only happy ? There can be joy beyond measure, joy beyond the temporary feeling of happiness and those circumstances that we frequently deem as necessary in order to be content and happy.

Happiness and it's lack sends people escaping where their joy is found. Keeps them searching without, avoiding within, avoiding above, where our Lord demands our gaze to make sense in an ordered manner of our call to serve Him, and utilize what we possess presently, so to see the goodness and taste the true happiness joy of it at all  .

There is more to living than being merely happy, and nothing of happiness is truly known without the joy of striving toward holiness, and the fulfillment of seeking to be perfected in virtue.

Sanctity is the happiness we seek, unknown to us while we suffer to find it. I have learned to take my reality, that can often seem plagued with a seeming lack of things, or temporal struggles and disenchantment, completely to God.

In resting it there with Him in honest prayer, I am met with consolation of accompaniment. The providence of God's love and grace to be able to praise all lack as an abundant good for me on this path toward holiness.

This pursuit of sanctity is made possible by the humility of recognizing those times where I claim things need to be "remedied" born from my own selfishness,  opposed to viewing these challenges themselves as the medicine to great healing of the soul, and a greater union with God, and helping to form an increased love toward others in authentic charity.

The bigger the thorn it seems, the greater the providence of God when we recall to lean toward Him lovingly (often more in a sense of desperate pining than a loving lean!)

Sometimes there can be the temptation for me to think of myself as avoiding things that are truly troubling or greater issues that need more practical attention, but I can't deny God's supernatural aid amidst everything, holding all things together and making clearer the way, by blanketing all of it with His love by the simple witness of His profound gift of grace.

If this were lacking , surely I would suffer greatly, and truly there is suffering also now , but it is a blessing that produces wisdom and only more endurance .

We should not despise the means we are led to encounter the Cross. It is here we are instructed and opened to receive more love,we become accessible to a love that can give and pour out from all of this apparent toil, a deep empathy and love to others, in the true mindfulness of God's unconditional love for us.

Most importantly there is the bold assurance of God's undeniable accompaniment in the sacraments and the Divine Assistance available to us in the life of the Church that we so infrequently stir into flame. The sacraments serve to keep us nearer our Joy, and nearest our Living God on this path toward sanctity,  while the rest of the world settles for being "happy".

Today's Gospel reminds us of the narrow gate, we have many wide worldly loves that we need to shed so to enter into union with our Lord. Let us pray to persevere on this path, being witnesses of joy, children of hope, and learn to smile in our search for sanctity.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Gratitude and Heaven by:C.C

Bethany Retreat House Yard-Abbey of The Genesee 
Gratitude blasts open an attentiveness of Heaven, and suddenly an awareness wells open. In that moment God's reality is not just observed with thanks, but participated in. As if the very breath we breathe in knowledge that it's completely God's , breathes out life around us, and we are one with Him in this, and there is nothing that can take it away or make even one little breath insignificant.

I am most at peace in this, even amidst life with the two tots and plenty of duties. There remains present a place kept above and beyond it all, when hidden in Christ.
And rather than risking me to become estranged and an "enemy" of my world, this sacred hiding place in Christ, kept above and beyond,helps me to emerge as a lover in the most profound sense. 

Gratitude to God is the aching appreciation for eternity, in the humble recognition of glimpses of it's beauty present to us daily.

Simple gratitude must be the dwelling place of one who longs to know eternity. From here we begin scratching the surface of thanks for the immensity of the Eucharistic offering to us, sustaining us to reside, as if hidden in a small part of Heaven, in the midst of the world. 

Monday, October 29, 2018

Faith in Suffering & Purification. By:CC

All that is known to us presently is of God's wisdom, here for His glory, and somehow for our good, despite our limited knowing.

Even despite our pain in lack of understanding. 

To be purified isn't to wrestle overtly with how we're tried, but to desire the Cross in all things . Fastened to it, it's weight upon us, there we're carried to the clarity and knowledge to have some sense of what God's will may be in this time of fire. Suffering endured faithfully is the assurance of Christ's accompaniment. The subtle sense of not being abandoned or alone. A peace that surpasses all reason, and the supply of hope though nothing seen. To stir endurance in trial , lean on the Cross of Christ, by it we're carried.

If we're to aid by our gifts , or to offer relief to another, we should pray for it to be made known to us. 

We should reserve ourselves primarily to trust in God, a deep love of God that can face all suffering, not with sense of abandonment, but with holy participation, assured that the grace of the Cross joins us in our time of want by fulfilling our every need. 

We may despise evil, as is natural, but we must also be mindful not to deny God full dominion , or neglect to trust in His sovereignty. Even an over attentiveness to try and solve everything professes only belief and faith in oneself. 

To stir up the grace of our belonging, to persevere amidst the sufferings , to endure the fire of purification, we need to desire holiness , and desperately. 

Everything that God has promised and spoken is true,this alone should comfort us, and entrusted to Him faithfully we can succeed in growing in sanctity. 

Nearer to Him lovingly so that we may have glimpse of what is yet known, and work to be a humble and faithful servant wherever we are called to serve.(CC)

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Pause And Appreciate The Beauty. By:CC

Why does everything , even things most significantly splendid and beautiful seem at times to fade away slowly with familiarity into disenchantment?
The bitter-sweet cross of our belonging to the infinite seems to bring us the grace of knowing what we're made for , but also leaves us pining with more longing in face of all that is made.
All of this resolved perhaps by seeking the infinite moment to moment , God's visitation and resting with the discipline to stay there and gaze at beauty that we know passes us too often.
Even still, how true of love. We look at the other, get to know them  and are drawn toward beauty. With familiarity this should only enhance the experience of enchantment , but often the opposite is true. This truth says more of us than the other. For they are no less enthralling. Our appetites bigger than our need , and our love more upon ourselves than born from the depth of Love.
 It is not with fresh eyes we must greet the beauty around us , but sober ones, awake to it all, and aware of the tragedy we bring upon ourselves failing to be drawn by love, smothered by self-absorption and disordered lust for beyond. (CC)