Friday, February 28, 2014

What God Has Joined. By: C.C.

" Therefore, what God has joined together, let no man separate." (Mark 10:9)

   The sanctity of marriage is often overlooked today and sadly detached from being regarded as an important vocation. Throughout scripture we are provided with various references to married life, and also the the beauty of the 'wedding feast'.
   At the wedding of Cana we bear witness to our Lord's miracle of turning water into wine; a powerful moment, and one that can be reflected as Jesus' immense love and desire to aid young married couples. The wedding at Cana furthers our understanding of His immense providence and mercy on those in need. If only we invite Him to the feast, if only we allow Him into our marriages. 
   Today's Gospel also provides us with instruction concerning the law of divorce. The response given from our Lord is not one to demand that we settle in difficulties or remain in marriages that are 'troubled' it is a plea to us so that we understand upon entering the Sacrament what is demanded and required of this vocation. It is the choice to embrace the challenges that may come with faith and hope. It is an invitation to embrace our Lord so that we can have clarity of discernment if we are called to married life.
     If 'no man should separate what God has joined' then we must live by first seeking God and learn who we are in Him so that we will be joined together with one whom God has called us to. "The joy of Yes forever", as Pope Francis reminds us is attainable by remembering that the foundation of all Christian marriages is to be in relationship with Jesus. 
  We must remember that through the Sacrament of Marriage two become one by our Lord's grace, in His love, and only through being bound to Him will the marriage be a source of 'Divine love' as intended. This is not an easy pursuit, but one made fruitful by remaining in constant regard for our Lord and His will for our lives. 
   As I prepare to enter into this Sacrament, I see before me a lot of unknown. There is a veil between what I can see presently, and that which I will venture toward with my future spouse. I cling most strongly to the love and providence of our Lord and Blessed Mother. 
   I have read various confessions of Catholic brides and other blog posts that highlight some of the experiences attributed to 'planning a Catholic wedding' and all things catering to the final 'crunch days' before the vows. This time is undoubtedly hectic, but beautiful. It is a preparation to share myself fully with another, to journey together,  and as a friend told me, my spouse will be a " Partner in this life as he helps you seek and love your eternal spouse more deeply and vice-versa. This life is but a journey to the real life in God".
   We journey together to enter into the wedding feast of our Lord. This is more than the external things of planning. This design for marriage that our Lord reveals to us is more than the flowers, and garments, and planning. It is more than the abundance of wine. It is a journey lived by the grace of our Lord with great faith in His promises. Let us pray for marriages and for all vocations, that our Lord may sustain and guide all of His children. (C.C.)

Monday, February 24, 2014

'God Alone' By: C.C.

    " God Save us from gloomy saints" (St. Teresa of Avila)

   The rule of St. Benedict is filled with beauty and powerful teachings that can enrich the lives of the faithful. Even those living outside of a monastic setting can learn and establish a routine rightly ordered in serving God alone. Though many of us are called by God to live within the 'world' we must contemplate and reflect upon what this vocation and state of life demands of us. 
    Too often it can be suggested that many close themselves off to aspiring toward holiness. It is as if living for God alone, as St. Benedict lived and encourages others to live, solely belongs to those within monastic communities and religious life. This way of thinking detaches us from living authentic Christian lives and can lead us to live within the world consumed with things, rather than living solely for God to Whom all things belong. 
   It is to God alone that we should offer all the glory and praise. It is for Him alone that we should live so that we can live united with others in the way that He wills. Living for God alone is a means of drawing out of ourselves and our often selfish desires so that we can become most charitable and more Christ like to those that we encounter.To lose oneself to God is to find oneself most complete and most fully alive.
  In reading about the lives of our beloved saints and those most hidden in Christ, one can see how God revealed Himself abundantly in accordance to their surrender. It was through their giving of self to the invisible reality of God that the Divine became most visible. 
  Often it is poorly perceived that one who gives themselves to God alone becomes unrelatable, selfish, judgemental of others, and detached from 'reality'. This has become a reason for much Christian critique in today's society. These perceptions are a reflection and fruit of disordered devotion to God. If one strives to live for God alone and does this with great faith and love of God then the fruits of this should be the fruits of the Holy Spirit. We should see,experience, and reflect 'love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control' (Galatians 5:22) These fruits are belonging to those desiring to live for God alone. 
  Through an honest desire to please God alone we will find ourselves living with others in a way that welcomes the peace of our Lord and the fruits of His Spirit. In this manner the way of life that we attempt to lead becomes an invitation to others and not one of opposition. Let us be true to the call that we have received from our Lord in faith. Let us live always in shadow of the Cross, striving to be hidden in God so that His greatness and joy may shine through us to others. (C.C.)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Judgement of Others. By: C.C.

"Sound doctrine must be maintained. We must never judge in arrogant haughtiness persons who do not embrace our mode of life. We must never say that it is no use for them to live chastely in the married state, to direct their houses and families in a Christian way, or to heap up for themselves heavenly treasures by their acts of mercy." (St. Augustine)

   To maintain sound doctrine is an essential part of maintaining truth and unity. It is to preserve identity. St. Augustine reminds us that 'we must never judge in arrogant haughtiness persons who do not embrace our mode of life'. Rather, it can be suggested that we should strive to embrace our Lord and the reason for our life more intently. Taking what we have been taught and know by the grace of faith to live our lives as followers of Christ and His Church.
  We must concern ourselves less with the salvation of others and set our gaze upon our own affairs. Being harsh to judge oneself, and recognize our own inadequacies and lack of faith.In this manner we will be busy striving toward the Lord with a fullness of devotion and repentance that we will have little time to observe the faults of others. This arrogant observation is often the result of our own pride. 
   We must be humble; seeing ourselves fully, our own affairs, and our own hearts. 
Our Lord has called us to love Him above all things and to love neighbor as oneself. In this judgement where is our love? In judging with 'arrogant haughtiness' the lives of others where is our love of neighbour? 
   We must exude this love and faith through action. Loving our neighbour through their faults, guiding them gently without force along a path that we, in faith attempt to walk. We must be witnesses. (CC)

"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only" (James 1:22)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Today's Second Reading; A First In Effective Evangelization by: C.C.

"Now when I came to you, brothers, I did not come with any brilliance of oratory or wise argument to announce to you the mystery of God. I was resolved that the only knowledge I would have while I was with you was knowledge of Jesus, and of him as the crucified Christ. I came among you in weakness, in fear and great trembling and what I spoke and proclaimed was not meant to convince by philosophical argument, but to demonstrate the convincing power of the Spirit, so that your faith should depend not on human wisdom but on the power of God." (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
  In learning about the lives of countless saints and people of faith who have made the largest impact throughout the history and life of our Church, we come to recognize their lowliness and their humility as an undeniable virtue that made them 'superheroes' of faith. 
  It was a humble desire to completely rid oneself of all things worldly; a disregard for honor and praise, and a discomfort with personal glory and merit. This shared humble witness that we find in the lives of our Salvation history is something that we must recall and strive to imitate if we are to be effective servants of God in the Church. 
  If we desire to share the faith with others effectively, we must first recognize the importance of being deeply rooted in our Lord who first desires us and calls us toward Himself. We are sent forth on a mission, not for our own glory but to share the glory of God. Should we attain any worldly merit on account of His work it is to Him and for Him alone that the glory belongs.
  Today's second reading from St. Paul presents us with a man overwhelmed by the greatness of Our Father and a willingness to be obedient to the call he had received through Christ to share the message of the Gospel with others. He did not come forth with 'brilliance of oratory' and yet, when he spoke people responded with faith. It was in losing himself and surrendering his life to God that his works were fruitful and his speech divine. St. Paul was a witness to the transforming power of our Lord.
  "I came among you in weakness, in fear and great trembling". St. Paul came forth as a witness with his human frailty and brokenness, recognizing his human nature as one among others. By recognizing his ordinary place among them, St. Paul attributed to leading many toward the extraordinary power of our Lord. He came in the Spirit of Christ not to establish great things, but to point toward Eternal Greatness. To evangelize effectively we must remember that everything begins with our Lord through our surrender to Him, onward to others, and always for the glory of God. 
  It is not in the establishment of great things that we are successful in sharing the Gospel and beauty of the Church, it is by rooting ourselves in what has already been established by Christ Himself. (CC)

"Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility?" (St. Augustine)