Friday, January 25, 2013

St. Paul By: C.C.

“It happened that I was on that journey and nearly at Damascus when in the middle of the day a bright light from heaven suddenly shone around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? “ I answered, “Who are you, Lord?” and he said to me, “I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting. “The people with me saw the light but did not hear the voice which spoke to me. I said, “What am I to do, Lord?”The Lord answered, “Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told what you have been appointed to do. “Since the light had been so dazzling that I was blind, I got to Damascus only because my companions led me by the hand. Someone called Ananias, a devout follower of the Law and highly thought of by all the Jews living there, came to see me; he stood beside me and said, `Brother Saul, receive your sight.` Instantly my sight came back and I was able to see him. Then he said, `` The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see the Upright One and hear his own voice speaking, because you are to be his witness before all humanity, testifying what you have seen and heard. And now why delay? Hurry and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.`` (Acts 22:6-16)

     Today we reflect upon the conversion of St. Paul. Through his life we are able to see God's transforming power of grace and mercy. St. Paul's conversion shows to us the depths that our Lord will go to pull us out of our sin.
    I have always been drawn to the writings of St. Paul, finding immense value and modern relativity in his teachings on Christian Life. Through St. Paul one can recognize the power of Christ within, the importance of surrender, and the way that we are called to live as followers of Christ.
Today's reading at Mass began by describing "Saul" as one who persecutes the Lord's disciples and by the end of this reading we are faced with the miracle of Saul being completely transformed by God. He is no longer one aiming to slaughter Christians, but one on fire for the Lord proclaiming the teachings of Jesus Christ.
    As we recall the Conversion of St. Paul today let us pray for his intercession to help lead souls to faith in Christ. Let us praise God for His power to transform and change us. May we constantly recognize our need for conversion daily. Let us come see ourselves as instruments of our Lord and seek opportunities to do His will and share the Good News. May we be proud of our Catholic identity and confidently live out our faith each day.
     Lord, As we bear witness to the world around us it is often hard to remain hopeful and faithful. Provide us with the courage, faith, and hope to persevere with You as our guide. Thank you for the gift of faith and for the eyes to see you, the ears to hear Your Word, and a heart that strives for purity. Amen (C.C.)
“With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity” (Rom 12:1-2, Phillips)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Meditating With Merton. By: C.C.

" Before we were born, God knew us. He knew that some of us would rebel against His love and His mercy, and that others would love Him from the moment that they could love anything, and never change that love. He knew that there would be joy in heaven among the angels of His house for the conversion of some of us." (Thomas Merton- Seven Storey Mountain pg 458)

     And still God loves us just the same. He loves us in our differences. Our Lord not only knew us before we were born, but He accepted all that we would become in the hope that we would someday know Him. He yearns for us to one day love Him with the fullness of our being. He loves the rebel and He loves the devout. Our Lord is love.
   It is dangerous when we forget this truth of love. It is not a matter of avoiding the reality and consequences of sin, or neglecting to acknowledge the judgement of our Lord that we will face. But, rather, it is a reminder that God's love is a gift to each of us. It is a love that does not discriminate as we often do toward one another. It is a love that sees past our mistakes, failures, and shortcomings. A love that is hopeful for the moment of conversion in our souls.
  As we reflect upon the unconditional love of our Lord may our hearts be opened to one another. May we come to see everyone as a child of God. Let us refrain from judging one another and instead spend time in prayer asking the Lord to open the hearts, minds, and souls of those who have yet to know Him. Let us pray for our brothers and sisters who rebel against His love, and for a continued strength and perseverance for those who do love Him. May we each remain hopeful that the angels in heaven may rejoice over many souls turning to our Lord with love and surrender. Let our lives serve as a witness to the love of our Lord and may we continue to share this love by loving one another. Amen (C.C.)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Consolation Along The Journey. By: C.C

                          I took this picture while on retreat at the Abbey of Genesee


"On our journey through life we do not wish to meet any difficulties or contradictions. We want constant consolations, no periods of dryness, no unpleasant times; health without sickness, repose without work, and peace without disturbance! But can't you see our folly when we want to have something we cannot have? Unallayed good is found only in paradise, as in hell is found nothing but evil. The great Chrysostom says: "O man, you who get all upset when things do not always go your way, are you not ashamed when you ponder that what you want was not to be found even in the family of Our Lord? ... Consider, I beg you, the events, the contradictions, and all the things that happened. The angel of the Lord said in a dream to Saint Joseph, 'Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you otherwise. Herod is searching for the child to destroy him.' [Mt. 2:13] This, indeed, was a moment of great sorrow for the Virgin Mary and for good Saint Joseph." (St. Francis De Sales)

     As our spiritual journey becomes challenging and often plagued with dryness we must not lose hope. There is a part of us that longs for a consistency of serenity and peace amidst our walk with the Lord. If we give ourselves so fervently to prayer and devotion how can we expect anything less than this?
   These moments of dryness awaken us to the imperfect nature of ourselves and of the human condition in need of redemption. Our spiritual dryness awakens us to our need of further purification and humility. It is helpful for us in these times to reflect upon the difficulties and trials of our beloved Saints and Holy Family in order to gain proper perspective.
  Throughout Scripture we hear the voices of God's children crying out to Him amidst their difficulties and desperation. Through their cries we also hear the echo of such profound and unshaken faith; a faith assured of the only true and sustaining consolation that can be provided by our Lord.
   Through our own dryness and afflictions we are each called to turn to God in the hope of His consolation. If we are deprived of this, then may our longing for Him be the only fitting remedy. May the gift of our faith aid us in persevering through the drought. May we come to the understanding that our Lord is Love and that He always keeps His promises. Let us remember the words of St. Paul to the Philippians. (C.C.)
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:5-8)