Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Illuminating The Minds Of The Worldly With The Light Of Christ.By:C.C.

``But, sad to say, a little pleasure dominates the minds of the worldly, driving out of their hearts all heavenly desires, to such an extent that many imagine that joy is to be found in living under such sensual pleasures. That is because they have neither seen nor tasted the sweetness of God and the inward joy of virtue. But those who utterly despise the world and strive to live under holy discipline experience the heavenly sweetness promised to spiritual men; they also see the errors of the world and how it is deceived in so many ways.`` (Thomas a Kempis)

    It is not enough to simply regard the errors of the world and to seek detachment from it without praying for a remedy. Without desiring the saving power of our Lord to enlighten the hearts of those in darkness we become detached from a desire for all goodness. When we remove ourselves in judgement from the world and claim to be following the light of Christ we not only cease to shine His light within the world, but we sadly assist the darkness.
   It is indeed ``sad to say`` that sensual pleasures take hold of the ``minds of the worldly`` and drive out all heavenly desires. However, the faithful are constantly faced with the same temptation between flesh and spirit in seeking to follow Christ while living within the world.       Though we may have the intellectual readiness to argue about the importance of virtue this ceases to be fruitful and effective if we do not truly ``taste and see the goodness of the Lord``for ourselves. If we cease to act virtuously and deny the opportunity to live out our faith by failing to submit to holy discipline we do nothing more than make a lot of senseless noise and further clutter the confusion of the worldly.
  ``Despising the world`` is not to carry hate for God`s creation, but to love it in a way that values and promotes the world as it was designed to be lived in by God. It is to despise that which taints, pollutes, and clouds the image of goodness through which we have all been created.
   Our Holy Father, Pope Francis reminds us in Evangelii Gaudium of the importance in sharing the news of Our Lord, and the joy of the Gospel. We must not simply look upon the ``errors`` of the world, but gaze steadfastly at the righteousness of our Lord and seek each day to live our lives as a witness to this goodness and to help bring the truth where great deception resides. 
  As we are faced daily with a world full of marketing aimed at `satisfying` sensual pleasures let us turn toward the spirit of our Lord, seeking to follow He who brings everlasting joy. May we strive with faith and perseverance in order to ``taste the inward joy of virtue``. And may our witness illuminate the minds of the worldly with the light of Christ. (C.C.)  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Two Proposals One Marriage; Saying Yes To God Before Another. By:C.C

``Marriage in The church is meant to be a sign and symbol of Divine Love in the world``
(Fr. Robert Barron)
    Our world is obsessed with the "wedding culture" and our culture is suffering from a misguided and twisted understanding of what Who the wedding day is intended to represent and glorify. As Fr. Barron stated in one of his lectures, 'marriage is meant to be a sign and symbol of Divine love in the world'. The misinterpretation and lack of understanding about marriage as a vocation does not only belong to the secular world, but is also shared by many of the faithful.
   It is important to acknowledge divine love and the presence of God in our lives so we can better understand married love and the purpose that it has in our society. We must seek to know our Lord before we can properly discern the vocation of marriage.
    Marriage is a vocation. In order to arrive at an increased understanding of this reality we must respond to the proposal from our Lord and dwell in His love before we seek 'the proposal' of man. By first entrusting ourselves to our Creator we can better discern where we are called to be, and to whom we are to entrust ourselves in marriage (if this is our discerned vocation). 
     “The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God. The invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being. For if man exists it is because God has created him through love, and through love continues to hold him in existence. He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and unless he entrusts himself to his Creator” (Guadium et Spes) 
     Many websites and blogs aimed at Catholic young women often point to the idea of "waiting for the 'right man' and seeking 'one who respects their dignity' opposed to being aimed at leading young women to primarily seek The One to whom they most belong. The message of 'waiting for the right one' can take away from the importance of remaining rested in the presence of our Lord.
   While many of the messages presented to young women may be reflective of great virtue, the primary relationship and love that should be stressed and fostered  is that of God's immeasurable love for each of us. When we are aware of God's love we can then love others as He wills and strive to clearly discern how we are called to live and share this love in our lives. We can not know our worth without seeing ourselves reflected in the eyes of an all loving God. We can not discern our vocation if we do not seek the One who calls us. 
   By saying `Yes` to our Lord we must allow God`s will to lead and guide our path. We are not to worry about our future or the time in which the desires of our heart will be granted. Let us remain rooted in the Lord and present within each moment that He provides. 
   The vocation of marriage is difficult and it requires great loving sacrifice that can only be understood and aided by drawing nearer to our Lord. Through building a personal relationship with Him we can ensure that we are building an essential foundation for our future wherever it may lead. If it is God`s will, we can trust that the `right one` we may seek and pray for will be brought to us by the hand of our loving Father.  
    ``If you find your delight in the Lord, he will grant your heart`s desire``(Psalm 37:4) Be patient, and remain open to our Lord. God has a plan for your life designed to bring you great peace and joy.(C.C)


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

To Remain Unshaken We Must Surrender. By: C.C.

``As long as you live, you will be subject to change, whether you will it or not- now glad, now sorrowful; now pleased, now displeased ; now devout, now undevout; now vigorous, now slothful; now gloomy, now merry. But a wise man who is well taught in spiritual labor stands unshaken in all such things, and heeds little what he feels, or from what side the wind of instability blows`` (Thomas a Kempis)

   To remain unshaken by the movements of the spiritual journey is to stand firmly upon the unwavering ground of our Lord. It is to perpetually resign our will to that of the Heavenly Father in order to accept the passing of all things as merely God`s permitting will.
    On earth we will not be free from the fluidity of emotions and trials. We will encounter hardship and difficulties, but if we are constantly seeking to be in union with our Lord and to cooperate as much as possible with His grace we can see these moments as profitable to us. The moments of trial and instability that may we encounter can encourage the building up of virtue in our lives; they can foster a desire for further change and interior transformation. 
   These moments that we face will subject us to change, and this is because God desires our holiness. He desires us to strive to live out the Gospel in our lives. This spiritual labor is a constant work. This work proposed to us by our Lord is a loving demand of constantly seeking His will despite the frailty of our feelings. 
   To remain unshaken in all things, and to heed little what we feel can only come at the cost of constantly desiring to serve our Lord. It is an act of keeping our gaze fixed upon the stability and unshaken ground of our Lord`s love and mercy. It is to reflect upon the lives of the saints and those before us who encountered great trial with a greater faith and a deeper surrender. 
  ``As long as you live, you will be subject to change``. We can not encounter our Lord and remain unchanged. To be unshaken by all things is to recognize the stability of He Who holds everything firmly together. Live with faith in our Lord, surrender each moment to His loving care, and you can endure what comes with virtue. (C.C.)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A `Bushel Of Falsehood` & A Lesson From Archbishop Lynch. By:C.C.

"The Ecumenical Council of the Vatican is only known to the world in general from reports of newspaper correspondents. These reports are generally very unreliable, many totally false, others containing a grain of truth in a bushel of falsehood, and cannot be relied upon. These reports generally came back to us in Rome, and amused and often surprised us, as each bishop received the leading newspaper of his city. A weekly Toronto journal kept me posted in the news of the day here and brought me news from Rome that I was entirely ignorant of. The secular newspapers, as a rule, were what we term in opposition." (Archbishop John Joseph Lynch-Lecture at St. Michael's Cathedral Toronto, following the first Vatican Council)

    I have taken great joy in recently reading about the history of the Archdiocese of Toronto. This city is currently a place enduring much criticism as a result of the Mayor, and it is most important to keep attention on our Lord- He Who truly governs all and has gifted us, by faith, with strong Catholic Shepards. 
   By looking back to the beginning days of this Archdiocese I have come to a greater sense of respect and reverence for what it is that these Shepards have done to pave the way for their successors in leadership, the priests of our parishes, and also for the laity. 
     I have chosen to focus tonight on these important words shared above from the first Archbishop of Toronto--the Most Reverend John Joseph Lynch. While I was reading excerpts from a lecture he gave at St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto (following his return from the first Vatican Council) I could not help but be drawn to his eloquent words about newspaper reports concerning matters of Vatican events. I wonder what he would have to say to us now about much of the media`s coverage on Pope Francis. 
   It is important to unearth these words from Bishop Lynch as I find that they affirm the fallibility and error in much of what we read, hear, and receive today. This is most especially true regarding media coverage on Pope Francis and other matters concerning The Vatican
   The immediate accessibility of information has allowed for a large number of articles, interviews, and video footage to surface about our Pope. This rapid sharing of news carries both positive and negative elements. It is important to approach information that we receive regarding the matters of our Holy Catholic Church with great discernment and understanding of our faith. 
   Many are often inclined to cling to the `grain of truth`within the `bushel of falsehood` for varying reasons. And while it can somehow be leading one closer to encountering the fullness of Truth, it can also damage and alter perceptions of  this Truth. 
    The `grain of truth` that we may cling to amidst the `bushel of falsehood` may be a reflection of our own selfish desire and our unwillingness to surrender to The Complete Truth found in the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church;Truth that is unwavering and does not bend with the opinions, views, and wants of a majority, but remains fixed and concrete as when it was proclaimed by Christ. I do not desire to judge the opinions and values of others or to determine that their sentiments or desire for `change` is wrong, I am simply at peace with what has always been and remains consistently right  and just (C.C.)

More from Archbishop Lynch...

``The secular newspaper correspondents have published that Papal Infallibility means that the Pope is like unto God, Supreme, not subject to any error, and can make truth falsehood, and falsehood truth. I need hardly say that this definition is utterly false. Another journal says that Papal Infallibility means that the Pope is impeccable — cannot err — and that all his sayings and doings are infallible; that also is false. He is subject to human weaknesses, and confesses them, like every good child of the Church, and receives absolution and penance. An other writer says that the Pope can prophesy and invent a new religion as he pleases — well, that also is false. He receives no gift of prophesy by his election to the Popedom and can invent no new dogma or religion ; he can only pronounce that such and such truth has been always in the Church, and has been revealed to the Church by the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, according to the words of Christ, " I will send you another Paraclete who will teach you ALL truth — not truth, but ALL truth.`` (Archbishop John Joseph Lynch)

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Grace of God's Gifts. By: C.C.

"Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them" (Romans 12:6)

    In order to exercise the gifts that we have been given by our Lord we must begin by humbling ourselves before Him and acknowledge what these gifts are. It is important to recognize faith itself as a gift to us.
   We can often be inclined to seek that which we do not have by keeping our eyes fixed on what we are without instead of drawing inward to see what we already are that has yet to be expressed and developed into to the fullness of potential.    
     Our individuality and the diversity of gifts given to us by our Lord can enable us to build a strong and effective community of laborers for Christ. By being who we have been called to be and by taking the time to be this well we can allow for the grace we have been given to bear proper fruit. Our diversity creates a beautiful unity by consistently turning to our Lord so that we may each become who He intended us to be. 
   St. Catherine of Siena encourages us by saying  "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire." She reminds us about the importance of living our lives in accordance to God's will for us. To know God's will and to know what it is that moves us at our core we must take time with our Lord in prayer; sitting before Him and keeping our hearts and minds open to hearing His voice.  
    Our gifts should not be those that we boast about or use as a means of putting down others. We are to show gratitude for our graces by honoring even the least that has been given to us. Let us take time in prayer and in the silence of reflection before our Lord to see where it is we are called to serve. Let us pray for the courage to use our gifts according to God's will and in this manner exercise them fruitfully. (CC)  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Desolation; A Divine Gift. By: C.C.

     "Are we in love with all the good things of God, or the God of all good things?" 

      In moments of spiritual desolation it is important to ask ourselves this very question  "Are we in love with all the good things of God, or the God of all good things?" This question was presented to me by a priest and it hit me rather hard. As I find myself trying right now to balance everything going on around me and striving to maintain a sense of order, I must admit with all humility and humanness that times of spiritual consolation are much easier to deal with because they "feel" so much better.
     This is where there is proof of need for further virtue, and an examination of heart; is  my love for God unconditional? Is it rooted in making myself a gift to Him, or solely about the gifts He has given to me?
    We are called not to a "feeling" but to a fervency of faith and acceptance of all things as coming from the God of all good things. If we truly believe in God and that He loves us immeasurably then we can accept all things from Him as good for us. It does not mean that there will be good "feelings" but there is indeed grace. It is to hold to the belief  "that God works with those who love him, those who have been called in accordance with his purpose, and turns everything to their good." (Romans 8:28) 
     Our idea of what this "goodness" entails is not decided upon by human feelings, but rather by divine providence and with a faith based understanding of what "good" truly is. Sometimes what is most good for us by God's standards can go against what our own ideas of goodness are. This is most evident when we look at the proclamations of worldly goodness versus a life rooted in Christ. Yet, in these moments our Lord allows us to gain perspective on the ways in which we "deal" with God as we are dealt things of a difficult nature. The more intimate we become with our Lord the more that we can attain a perspective rooted in His will and come to see all things He values as the ultimate good for us.    
    Faith is not a feeling. To follow our Lord is not something we base solely on the moments of "resurrection" and joy in our lives. We are called, as Jesus was to embrace the Cross, to persevere despite our feelings and maintain a sense of hope and faith in the Lord. It is not easy. I am most grateful for it not being easy; for it is in this way that our Lord shows to me His mercy, His love, and ultimately His majesty. It is in the difficult moments that I come to see my weaknesses and my constant need for the Lord. It is when I am stretched beyond my limitations that I most recognize the Divine Aid that is there to assist me if I turn to Him in faith. 
I am in love with the God of all good things, and all things are good because they come from God. Let us not seek to love only the "good things of God" but to seek in all things the God who made all things for His good. May we live each day with this always in mind. (C.C)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Meeting The Morning With "New Eagerness". By: C.C.

“If we wish to make any progress in the service of God we must begin every day of our life with new eagerness. We must keep ourselves in the presence of God as much as possible and have no other view or end in all our actions but the divine honor.” (St. Charles Borromeo) 

    It is challenging to begin the gift of every day with a sense of "new eagerness". Regardless of our desire to accomplish tasks throughout the day it can seem at times that the heaviness of responsibilities, duties, stresses, and thoughts can weigh upon us before the day begins. 

   As children of God we are called to meet these concerns by unceasingly turning to Him. This "new eagerness" that Saint Charles encourages us to start our day with is made possible by keeping ourselves in the presence of God. If we strive to remain in the presence of our Lord than we can incline ourselves toward receiving the gift of each present moment with peace and purpose. One can come to view even the most "mundane" of tasks as a means of serving God. Our every day can begin with a sense of new eagerness when we recognize the immensity of possibility that awaits us by making the choice to keep ourselves in the presence of God;for He is always present to us. 
   The very fact that morning has come enables us to make the choice to follow and to serve our Lord. We must only surrender our day to His love and mercy. We must invite our Lord into the entirety of our day by keeping our gaze toward "divine honor" in all that we do. 
   Instill in us, O Lord an eagerness as we seek to serve You each day. Help us to keep our gaze upon you and to continually seek your presence.Amen. (C.C.) 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Holy Heroism Through Humility. By: C.C.

Photo from St. Augustine's Seminary Chapel in Toronto

"Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance" (St. Augustine)

     To climb the heights toward holiness first requires an honest acknowledgement of one's lowliness. It is only by recognizing our faults and weaknesses that we are brought to a greater understanding of ourselves and a deeper awareness of our need for the Lord in our lives. When we are open to identifying the inner shades of our hearts we can open ourselves to experiencing the Lord's mercy and love. It takes great humility to see ourselves in the light of truth, and simultaneously it is this vulnerability that is the most beautiful and most pleasing to our Lord. It is an invitation for Him to dwell within us and help us attain purity of heart. We become more by first becoming less. Humility allows us to see our limitations and the infinite capabilities of the Divine.
   We pay God a great compliment by recognizing our lowliness so that He may shine forth His majesty through us. God loves us immeasurably. It is a love that demands more because we have been made for more than what we perceive or settle for. 
    It is important to separate the idea of regarding ones lowliness as a form"self-hatred". It is by developing a deeper sense of self-awareness and a keener understanding of who our Lord is that can enable us to embrace a desire for humility as being rooted in love. Through humility we are aware of our constant need for conversion and renewal through the grace, love, and mercy of our Lord. This virtue was seen in the lives of our beloved saints. Those whom have been raised with great veneration in our Church are the holy men and women who walked this earth seeing themselves as "lowly servants". 

   Humility welcomes healing and freedom; it allows us to grow in other virtues. Saint Augustine reminds us that the foundation of all virtue is built upon humility, and that anything without this is empty and mere appearance. Humility allows us to see who we are not and who God is. It can enable us to take the first step toward becoming who we have been called to be in Christ. We, Lord, are Your lowly servants. Help us to grow in the virtue of humility each day. Enable us to see the truth of ourselves and turn more fervently toward the truth found only in You. Help us to always welcome the transformation of your love and mercy in our lives. Keep us humble so that You may shine through us, and may the perceived greatness of our works always be done for your glory. (CC)  

Friday, November 1, 2013

Choosing The Path Toward Holiness. By:C.C.

"Our choice is not always God's choice. Our will is not necessarily God's will. That is why we get angry and frustrated when our expectations are not met. Those who are godly and at peace are the saints [whose] choice and will are always aligned with God's. Even though in good conscience their wills and choice may not be confirmed and affirmed by God for the time being, the saints always rejoice and simply surrender knowing that God will eventually bring good out of any impossible circumstances."
(-Fr. Cassian Sama, OP)
    We can not succeed in our desire for union with God by remaining reserved to our own will. This union requires a complete resignation of self to the will of our heavenly Father. It is to surrender and place complete trust in the Lord. As we seek to follow the will of God in our lives the biggest battle we face is against our own will and our own ideas about what God's will should be for us. 
   "Our choice is not always God's choice" and by this we can open ourselves to understanding the sacrifice required to live in accordance to His plan. The world seeks to entice us with the message of "self-fulfillment" and presents us with the immediate "fix" of many things marketed toward our desire for more; a desire created by God for God that can only be fulfilled by Him.  The world screams "whatever you will can be yours" attempting to silence the voice of our loving Lord. God does not impose Himself upon us we make the choice to follow Him.We must silence the shouts of the world with the silence of prayer, and attune ourselves to hear His voice.   
   "Those who are godly and at peace are the saints whose choice and will are always aligned with God's". To "always" be aligned with God's will is not the result of one single decision. This type of devotion is the result of continual surrender through all things. It is a choice made out of hope and faith toward an all loving and merciful God. The saints did not surrender to our Lord because of security and comfort; they were trusting through trials and tribulations,extending themselves beyond their own comforts and perpetually keeping their eyes on things above. There was doubt and uncertainty, yet they committed themselves to follow the plan of God. As St. Augustine once said "“Father, I am seeking: I am hesitant and uncertain, but will you, O God, watch over each step of mine and guide me.” This statement reveals the human reality of this beloved saint. So often we can see these venerated people of our church as beyond us and separate from the reality we live today. In taking the time to learn more about these holy men and women we come to see ourselves and our journey within their lives. 
   Our beloved saints have left us not only an example to imitate but one through which we can draw immense strength and virtue from if we turn our gaze toward the path that God has set before us.Like them we must strive to see all things as grace and be patient by trusting that "God will eventually bring good out of any impossible circumstances". 
     A priest once reminded me that when we love God we begin to love everything He loves. I have seen that this love can lead us to embrace the challenges presented in striving toward holiness and aid us in persevering through many trials. Through grace we also begin to realize that any joy or expectation we can imagine for our own lives will never compare with the joy we are able to attain by simply surrendering to the plans of our Lord.   
      The saints have much to teach us today about life and about the commitment to living out our faith in today's world. We are called like them to a trust in God that exceeds our understanding. Through all things let us seek to align our will with that of our Lord. May we wake each day with the fervency to follow and the humility to say in faith "Thy will be done". (CC)