Monday, May 21, 2018
From Gaudete et Exsultate :
#122. Far fro being timid, morose, acerbic or melancholy, or putting on a dreary face, the saints are joyful and full of good humor. Though completely realistic, they radiate a positive and hopeful spirit. The Christian life is 'joy in the Holy Spirit' (Rom 14:17), for the necessary result of the love of charity is joy....
If we allow the Lord to draw us out of our shell and change our lives, then we can do as Saint Paul tells us:'Rejoice in the Lord always; I say it again, rejoice!' (Phil 4:4)....."
#123 "The prophets proclaimed the times of Jesus, in which we now live, as a revelation of joy." The Pope gives us some quotes that show us how we are to rejoice greatly; we are not to grieve for the joy of the Lord is our strength.
#124 Mary, recognizing the newness that Jesus brought, sang: 'My spirit rejoices' and Jesus himself 'rejoiced in the Holy Spirit'... After the resurrection of Jesus, 'wherever the disciples went, there was 'much joy' (Acts 8:8). Jesus assures us: "You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy...I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you' (Jn 16:20,22). 'These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full."
Sunday, May 20, 2018
In today's Liturgy we ask God to sanctify the whole Church in every people and nation and to pour out the gifts of the Holy Spirit across the face of the earth and fill now once more the hearts of believers.
I love the description Luke gives us of the first Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles: "When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim."
This feast has a wonderful Sequence that is worth praying over. I think I copied it for last year's feast so will not repeat it here. You can no doubt find it in my archives or on Google.
Saturday, May 19, 2018
The Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles as tongues of fire. This descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost traditionally marks the birth of the Church, but it is hardly the first time the Spirit comes - in fact, the Spirit hovers over the waters at the moment of creation.
In the reflection for this feast in Give Us This Day, Edward Hahnenberg says: "The Holy Spirit is nothing other than God alive and active in the world. If Jesus is how God burst forth into human history, then the Spirit is how God continues to burn in the human heart. The Spirit is God's love for each one of us. It is God's loving presence within me."
Friday, May 18, 2018
#117 "It is not good when we look down on others like heartless judges, lording it over them and always trying to teach them lessons. That is itself a subtle form of violence. Saint John of the Cross proposed a different path: 'Always prefer to be taught by all, rather than to desire teaching even the least of all.' And he added advice on how to keep the devil at bay: 'Rejoice in the good of others as if it were your own, and desire that they be given precedence over you in all things; this you should do wholeheartedly. You will thereby overcome evil with good, banish the devil, and possess a happy heart. Try to practice this all the more with those who least attract you. Realize that if you do not train yourself in this way, you will not attain real charity or make any progress in it.'"
#118. "Humility can only take root in the heart through humiliations. Without them, there is no humility or holiness....
Humiliation makes you resemble Jesus; it is an unavoidable aspect of the imitation of Christ. For 'Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you mkight follow in his steps.' (i Pet 2:21)....
The Pope goes on to explain in #119 that he is not speaking only about stark situations of martyrdom, but about the daily humiliations of those who keep silent to save their families, who prefer to praise others rather than boast about themselves, or who choose the less welcome tasks, at times even choosing to bear an injustice so as to offer it to the Lord.....
Thursday, May 17, 2018
In #115, Pope Francis tells us that "Christians too can be caught up in networks of verbal violence through the internet and the various forms of digital communication....It is striking that at times, in claiming to uphold the other commandments, they completely ignore the eighth, which forbids bearing false witness or living, and ruthlessly vilify others. Here we see how the unguarded tongue, set on fire by hell, sets all things ablaze (cf. Jas 3:5).
#116. "Inner strength, as the work of grace, prevents us from becoming carried away by the violence that is so much a part of life today, because grace defuses vanity and makes possible meekness of heart. The saints do not waste energy complaining about the failings of others; they can hold their tongue before the faults of their brothers and sisters, and avoid the verbal violence that demeans and mistreats others. Saints hesitate to treat others harshly; they consider others better than themselves."
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
From the Exhortation on Holiness, the Fourth Chapter where Pope Francis talks about some of the signs of holiness.
#112. "The first of these great signs is solid grounding in the God who loves us and sustains us. This source of inner strength enables us to persevere amid life's ups and downs, but also to endure hostility, betrayal and failings on the part of others. 'If God is for us, who is against us?' (Rom 8:31): this is the source of the peace found in the saints. Such inner strength makes it possible for us, our our fast-paces, noisy and aggressive world. to give a witness of holiness through patience and constancy in doing good....."
#114. "We need to recognize and combat our aggressive and selfish inclinations, and not let them take root....When we feel overwhelmed, we can always cling to the anchor of prayer, which puts us back in God's hands and the source of our peace."....
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Today I am taking my Spirituality Group to Villa Maria del Mar for a mini retreat. The group consists of about eight or ten wonderful women that are hungry for prayer and come once a month to meet with me. Some I have had in the Busy Persons' Retreat. This will be, I think, our last meeting of the year and is an extra day. These are busy Mothers so it is hard for them to take off even one day. I just want them to know about my favorite place where they could go sometimes just to enjoy the beauty and pray by the ocean. It is only an hour from here and a beautiful drive through the Santa Cruz mountains.
More from the Exhortation on Holiness tomorrow. I do want to share a prayer we use in preparation for Pentecost:
Breathe on us, Spirit of Wisdom,
so that we may be Your Divine life alive in the world.
Grow in us, Spirit of Understanding,
so that we may listen and know how to speak your word.
Move within our community, Spirit of Counsel,
so that everyone of our encounters may be filled with Your Presence.
Inspire us, Spirit of Fortitude,
so that we may always have courage and speak the truth in love.
Fill us with insight, Spirit of Knowledge,
so that we may put on the mind of Christ and see God in all creation.
Abide with us, Spirit of Reverence,
so that we may be transformed into Your image and become holy.
Draw us into Yourself, Spirit of Wonder and Beauty,
so that we may worship and glorify You.
In union with Jesus who has given us this Spirit,
we return to You, Loving God, all that You have given us. Amen.
Monday, May 14, 2018
In reading the 4th Chapter of Gaudete et Exsultate I was impressed by the aspects of holiness that the Pope mentions such as meekness, humility, boldness, joy, and apostolic courage. In note 101 he recommends praying a prayer attributed to St. Thomas Moore and I am going to copy it here:
"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, grumbling, 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 and to discover in life a bit of joy, and to be able to share it with others".
The April 30 issue of America has some different authors reflecting on the Pope's document. Their full responses can be found at americamagazine.org
Sunday, May 13, 2018
"Men of Galilee, why gaze in wonder at the heavens? This Jesus whom you saw ascending into heaven will return as you saw him go, alleluia."
Collect: (I often copy the Collect as it is often not heard and yet, it sets the tone for the Liturgy and we should be aware of what we are asking in each Eucharist)
"Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God,
and make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving,
for the Ascension of Christ your Son is our exaltation,
and where the Head has gone before in glory,
the Body is called to follow in hope.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever."
Actually, there is an alternative Collect that asks that we "may in spirit dwell in heavenly realms".
I like the request to be gladdened with holy joys and to be made to rejoice with thanksgiving so will pray with the first Collect.
Then we have the account of the Ascension given at the very beginning of the Acts of the Apostles.
The Gospel will tell us to go out to all the world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Pope Francis is telling us the same.
Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers reading this blog!
Saturday, May 12, 2018
Chapter Four: Signs of Holiness in Today's World
110. The Pope begins by telling us that "within the framework of holiness offered by the Beatitudes and Matthew 25: 31-46, I would like to mention a few signs or spiritual attitudes that, in my opinion, are necessary if we are to understand the way of life to which the Lord calls us."
Then he tells us that he will not pause to explain the means of sanctification already known to us. Then he just names them and as they are important, I am repeating them here: "the various methods of prayer, the inestimable sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, the offering of personal sacrifices, different forms of devotion, spiritual direction and many others as well."
The Pope only wants to speak of certain aspects of the call to holiness that he hopes will prove especially meaningful to us.
We will continue with this on Monday as tomorrow is Sunday and Mother's Day and, in most places, we also are celebrating the Feast of the Ascension.
Friday, May 11, 2018
We are now on the last paragraph of Chapter Three and will begin Chapter Four tomorrow. This Exhortation on Holiness says that "Jesus' words are few and straightforward, yet practical and valid for everyone, for Christianity is meant above all to be put into practice. It can also be an object of study and reflection, but only to help us better live the Gospel in our daily lives. I recommend rereading these great biblical texts frequently, referring back to them, praying with them, trying to embody them. They will benefit us; they will make us genuinely happy."
Thursday, May 10, 2018
In Gaudete el Exsultatae, #105, Pope Francis tells us that the "best way to discern if our prayer is authentic is to judge to what extent our life is being transformed in the light of mercy. For 'mercy is not only an action of the Father; it becomes a criterion for ascertaining who his true children are.' Mercy is the very foundation of the Church's life.'"
Skipping to #107, "Those who really wish to give glory to God by their lives, who truly long to grow in holiness, are called to be single-minded and tenacious in their practice of the works of mercy."
108. Hedonism and consumerism can prove our downfall, for when we are obsessed with our own pleasure, we end up being all too concerned about ourselves and our rights, and we feel a desperate need for free time to enjoy ourselves. We will find it hard to feel and show any real concern for those in need, unless we are able to cultivate a certain simplicity of life, resisting the feverish demands of a consumer society, which leave us impoverished and unsatisfied. anxious to have it all now....
The Pope also mentions letting ourselves be caught up in superficial information, instant communication...these cause us to waste precious time and become indifferent to the suffering flesh of our brothers and sisters. But, he tells us "Yet even amid this whirlwind of activity, the Gospel continues to resound, offering us the promise of a different life, a healthier and happier life."
Plenty today to reflect on and to make that examination of conscience in dialogue with the Lord that the Pope is asking all of us, all Christians, to make daily.