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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Feast of St. Ignatius

I love St. Ignatius of Loyola. I had the joy and grace of making a thirty-day retreat in the Jesuit retreat house built over the cave where Ignatius first began writing the Spiritual Exercises. I loved Manresa and spent many hours in prayer in the cave, even spending the entire night there the last day of the retreat. Three years later, I had the added grace to return to give the 30-day retreat to priests and also a Christian Brother and a Benedictine Sister. I loved going to Montserrat where Ignatius had gone before Manresa.
I did not intend to go back to Spain, but later I was there teaching Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross in a summer course and managed to get to the north of Spain to visit Loyola and the very room where Ignatius lived for months after being wounded and where he was converted from his dream of worldly honor to the desire to do even more for Christ than the saints he was reading about during his convalescence.
What I intended to share today is a prayer that he loved, the Anima Christi, a 14th century post Communion prayer.

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
O good Jesus, hear me. 
Within your wounds, hide me.
Do not let me be separated from you.
From the malicious enemy defend me.
In the hour of my death, call me and bid me come to you,
that with your saints I may praise you for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, July 30, 2018

From time to time we need periods of silence

 A dear friend of many years arrived from Miami. We will be in a mini retreat together Monday to Friday at my sacred place, Villa Maria del Mar, the retreat house of the Sisters of the Holy Names. I am scheduling ahead so you will still have my daily blog, only I shall make it brief as many are no doubt having vacation at this time. It will be a great joy for me to have these days of quiet prayer and sharing.

"Entering into silence is like stepping into cool, clear water. The dust and debris are quietly washed away, and we are purified of our triviality. This cleansing takes place whether we are conscious of it or not; the very choice of silence, of desiring to be still, washes away the day's grime..." p. 28 Sister Wendy Beckett in Meditations on Silence.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This Sunday's Gospel is from John 6:1-15 and one that is really consoling in so many aspects. First of all, Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. But a large crowd followed him so he went up the mountain and sat down with his disciples. When he saw how large the crowd was, he said to Philip, "Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?"
John says that Jesus was testing Philip "because he himself knew what he was going to do." (Now this may be a distraction that I have each time I read that, but I will share it with you. When I was still a novice, a very wise Religious told us that this was the secret of a good teacher - you must always know what you are going to do. I think that is true for any meeting I need to prepare for or even facilitating a group - you need to know what you are going to do.
Fortunately, Andrew tells Jesus that " there is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what good are these for so many?" Then Jesus has the people recline and the Gospel tells us that "the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted." Here we see that Jesus has the power to feed all and that is just what He is still doing in every Eucharist.
At the end, John tells us that they gathered up twelve wicker baskets full of the fragments from the five barley loaves. I think Jesus wanted to make sure that each of his twelve special friends had a basket because he is going to send them off while he withdraws again to the mountain alone. 
Now, put yourself into this story and see how consoling it is - there is a need, Jesus takes the little they have and takes care of the need. Then, when the crowd would make him king, he withdraws alone. He took the loaves, gave thanks, and then gave them to the people. I think the giving thanks is very important and we need to reflect on how we are doing the same in our own lives. We are called to minister to others.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Real silence

"Real silence is both supremely simple and yet not easy. It draws us into a dimension always open to those who will allow themselves to be centered. But centering bars us from many irrelevances in which we take a guilty pleasure." Wendy Beckett in Meditations on Silence, p.10. 

About the book: I bought this little book second hand. It is published by Dorling Kindersley and the first American edition is 1995. The text copyright is the same year for Sister Wendy. I am assuming that Sister Wendy Beckett does not mind that I promote her book here by using a few of her words about silence. This is to help us to deepen our call to embrace silence.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Creating silence

To hear the voice of God, we need to be still and to create an interior silence. I recently bought a second hand book by Sister Wendy Beckett as I love her books and had not seen this little one before. It is titled Meditations on Silence. I will not attempt to copy the pictures she is meditating on but will copy some of the really inspiring things she says about silence. Here is just one inspired by Rembrandt's "Woman with a Pink":
"The capacity for silence- a deep, creative awareness of one's inner truth- is what distinguishes us as human."

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Walking the path with Jesus

The important thing for each of us is to walk with Jesus. Then we will be on the right path and He only wants to love us. It is our task to discern how to stay with Jesus so we are on the right path. God has a unique plan for each of us and Pope Francis tells us that "ultimately, discernment leads to the wellspring of undying life: to know the Father, the only true God, and the one whom he has sent, Jesus Christ (cf . Jn 17:3). It requires no special abilities, nor is it only for the more intelligent or better educated. The Father readily reveals himself to the lowly."

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Am I on the right path?

Today is my nephew's birthday. I remember getting the phone call in Chile telling me about his birth in 1960. The birth of a child is always an occasion for joy and thanksgiving. Now, I pray for him so he is on the right path. Some choices in life are more difficult to discern than others. Sometimes we need more information; sometimes, what seems to be a good discernment will change because of circumstances. How can I know that the Holy Spirit is guiding me in the discernment process? 

Ignatius distinguishes between people who are trying to live a life of love, in relationship with God and those people who, as he says, are going from bad to worse, meaning their lives are totally self-focused with no regard for others or God. He indicates that the Holy Spirit acts differently in each case. These guidelines are for those who are trying to be open to the Spirit (whether or not they always manage it).

For these people of goodwill, the moods, thoughts and feelings that come from our lives being in tune with the Holy Spirit tend to be things like love, gentle inspiration, peace, courage, hope, openness, strength or repentance. (See fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22.) These movements help the personto engage in life, to 'choose life', they are welcomed and appreciated.
On the other hand the moods, thoughts and feelings that indicate a countermovement, going in a direction away from the prompting of the Holy Spirit tend to be things like nameless fear, anxiety, inappropriate sadness, self-centredness, seeing endless snags ahead, lack of hope.
These feelings tend to paralyse, to prevent a person acting in a way they might wish, so as far as possible they are identified but not allowed to take centre stage, however fascinating.
When we are under the influence of a countermovement we call it 'spiritual desolation', when the Spirit is more clearly present we call it 'spiritual consolation'. The thoughts and feelings we are talking about here are not just superficial, fleeting sensations, but deeper streams within our heart and mind.

Spiritual Desolation

Why does it happen? Perhaps we are not living in a way we would like, not giving God any time, so busy rushing there is no time to pause, pray, be quiet. Perhaps it is time to make changes, to move on and we won't see it. Perhaps there is no obvious reason, BUT we can use the experience to try to be faithful, trusting God even though we don't feel like it.
  • In desolation, try not to change major plans that were made at a time of consolation.
  • Go against the desolation if possible, God is still there even if it does not feel like it.
  • It usually helps if we can share our thoughts and feelings with someone we can trust and has some experience of the ways of God and faith. Some people find speaking to a spiritual director helpful.
  • Desolation usually goes for our weakest points, this can help us to identify them.
  • Be patient, hang on, consolation will return.
(NB Spiritual desolation is not the same as depression, care must be taken to distinguish the two.)

Spiritual Consolation

  • Be thankful! Recognise the real gifts in your life and give thanks to God for them.
  • 'Store it up', remember this experience and what it tells you about God, so that you can draw on the memories in difficult times. (Desolation will return!)
  • Don't become too proud, or certain that you have life sorted out, remember how helpless you can feel when in desolation.
  • Sometimes we have an experience of God that comes out of the blue, there seems to be no reason for it, but we know it is God. When this happens, it is good to still be aware of our actions, noting what was in the experience itself and what comes afterwards which may or may not be from God.
This piece on discernment comes from a booklet originally created by Ruth Holgate, Paul Nicholson SJ and Steve Hoyland.
Discerning Prayer
Decision making based on the approach of St Ignatius of Loyola

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Sometimes we need to discern

Discernment is very important for all of us as we often are presented with two good choices and do not know which one will be more pleasing to God. We need to pray and reflect when it is a serious choice that may be important for us and for others. Pope Francis, being a good Jesuit, had much to say in the last Chapter of Gaudete et Exsultatae on discernment. He said that discernment enables us to recognize the concrete means that the Lord provides to make us move beyond mere good intentions. That is something we need to reflect on today.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Being attentive to God's Presence

During July, I have been more or less following a simple 30 day retreat sent me from the Jesuits by e-mail. It is a good way to prepare for the Feast of St. Ignatius on July 31, and also an excellent way to deepen our own awareness of the Presence of God in our lives.
Here are some questions to reflect on that I find helpful:

  • Where have I experienced God in my life?
  • When and where in my history have I felt God with me?
  • Who are the people in my life who have mirrored God, in whom I have seen the face of God?
  • Are there special places in my life where I have felt near to God?

Sunday, July 22, 2018

We have a shepherd, a Good Shepherd

This Sunday's reading have a great deal to do with both shepherds and sheep. Jeremiah talks about what will befall the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock. The Lord says that he himself will gather the remnant of the flock and bring them back to their meadow where they shall increase and multiply. "I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear and tremble; and none shall be missing, says the Lord."
Then we have the Good Shepherd psalm:23:1-6 where we proclaim that "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want....

In the Gospel, Mark 6:30-34, we have the apostles reported back to the Lord about all they had done and taught. He invites them to a deserted place to rest a while as there were so many people coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat. So off they go, but people saw them and hastened to the other side so that when Jesus disembarked and saw the crowd "his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things."

So many needy people in our world today are longing for us to be moved with pity for them and bring them consolation from the Good Shepherd.

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Blessed Trinity and Interior Life

Even while reading and praying over the wonderful document on holiness given us by Pope Francis, I have been finding that my own prayer is much more a surrender to the Holy Trinity. It is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who dwell in each of us. As a Religious of the Sacred Heart, most of my life of prayer has been concentrated on Jesus who so loves us; now Jesus is taking me to a new consciousness of the indwelling of the Holy Trinity. As I really do think our interior life is more interesting than our exterior, I am looking for ways to express the ways our inner lives have developed and are now strong and the most important part of our lives. I think we need to go back over our lives and see how God has been leading us - not just exteriorly, but interiorly. The interior life is definitely the most important.
It takes prayer and reflection to get in touch with our own interior history. It is a good project for the rest of the summer. I suggest a journal to jot down anything that comes to us and I am sure the Holy Spirit will bring some important moments in our interior life back into our consciousness if we spend this time in silent reflection. Let us try it!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

A hierarchy of virtues

To finish Chapter Two and thus have covered all of Pope Francis' Gaudete et Exsultatae, in #60 the Pope tells us that we would do well to "keep reminding ourselves that there is a hierarchy of virtues that bids us seek what is essential. The primacy belongs to the theological virtues, which have God as their object and motive. At the center is charity. Saint Paul says that what truly counts is 'faith working through love' (Gal 5:6).
61. "In other words, amid the thickest of precepts and prescriptions, Jesus clears the way to seeing two faces, that of the Father and that of our brother. ...He gives us two faces, or better yet, one alone: the face of God reflected in so many other faces. For in every on of our brothers and sisters, especially the least, the most vulnerable, the defenceless and those in need, God's very image is found....the Lord and our neighbor, these two riches do not disappear."

62. May the Lord set the Church free from these new forms of gnosticism and pelagianism that weigh her down and block her progress along the path to holiness! These aberrations take various shapes, according to the temperament and character of each person. So I encourage everyone to reflect and discern before God whether they may be present in their lives."

This is the end of Chapter Two so we have really covered all five chapters in this important document that is written for all of us. I encourage you to look back through the archives and reread at least some of the underlined parts that I thought were so pertinent for all of us who desire holiness.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Be led by the Spirit in the way of love

We are still finishing up Chapter Two in Gaudete et Exsultatae.

Pope Francis is speaking now about the new pelagians who seek justification by their own efforts, the worship of the human will and their own abilities. The result is a self-centered and elitist complacency, bereft of true love....rather, we should let ourselves "be led by the Spirit in the way of love" and spend time being "passionate about communicating the beauty and joy of the Gospel."

58. "Not infrequently, contrary to the promptings of the Spirit, the life of the Church can become a museum piece or the possession of a select few....the Gospel then tends to be reduced and constricted, deprived of its simplicity, allure and savor...."

59. "Once we believe that everything depends on human effort as channeled by ecclesial rules and structures, we unconsciously complicate the Gospel and become enslaved to a blueprint that leaves few openings for the workings of grace....

I am skipping some of each paragraph today so that I can finish the document tomorrow. You can always find the entire work on or, even better, get a copy of this wonderful Apostolic Exhortation for yourself to reread and pray over in the next weeks.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A source of contagious joy

In #52 of Gaudete et Exsultatae, Pope Francis reminds us that it is the Lord who always takes the initiative. He quotes others to affirm this truth. Then, in #53 he tells what the Councils have said to reinforce the truth that we cannot demand, merit, or buy the gift of divine grace.
In #54, the Catechism of the Catholic Church also reminds us that the gift of grace surpasses the power of human intellect and will.  "His friendship infinitely transcends us; we cannot buy it with our works, it can only be a gift born of his loving initiative. This invites us to joyful gratitude for this completely unmerited gift..."
55. This is one of the great convictions that the Church has come firmly to hold...we not only accept it intellectually but also make it a source of contagious joy....
56. "Only on the basis of God's gift, freely accepted and humbly received, can we cooperate by our own efforts in our progressive transformation. We must first belong to God, offering ourselves to him who was there first, and entrusting to him our abilities, our efforts, our struggle against evil and our creativity, so that his free gift may grow and develop within us..."

Monday, July 16, 2018

We dwell in God

We near the end of these many days looking at Pope Francis' Gaudete et Exsultatae. In #50 we are told that "the lack of heartfelt and prayerful acknowledgment of our limitations prevents grace from working more effectively within us...Grace, precisely because it builds on nature, does not make us super-human all at once. ... Unless we can acknowledge our concrete and limited situation, we will not be able to see the real and possible steps that the Lord demands of us at every moment, once we are attracted and empowered by his gift. Grace acts in history; ordinarily it takes hold of us and transforms us progressively. 

#51 "....we need to live humbly in his presence, cloaked in his glory; we need to walk in union with him, recognizing his constant love in our lives....God is the Father who gave us life and loves us greatly. Once we accept him, and stop trying to live our lives without him, the anguish of loneliness will disappear... So often we say that God dwells in us, but it is better to say that we dwell in him, that he enables us to dwell in his light and love....In him is our holiness."

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today's Gospel, Mark tells us that Jesus "summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick - no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic."

I always stop there and wonder what it means to "take nothing for the journey" - it certainly is a call to me as I look around my room to get rid of more things. I do not need all that I brought out with me, but there is a little voice  in my head, which is no doubt a vice, telling me I might need it. Jesus only allows a walking stick and sandals - both essential helps for the dusty trails that his Apostles were to walk. 
It is a Gospel to meditate on and then get rid of clutter! I find it easier to say than to do. But I will begin again to throw out...

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Do what you can and ask for what you cannot

In #49 of Gaudete et Exsultatae, Pope Francis tells us: "Those who yield to this pelagian or semi-pelagian mindset...ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style....They fail to realize that not everyone can do everything, and that iin this life human weaknesses are not healed completely and once for all by St. Augustine taught, God commands you to do what you can and to ask for what you cannot, and indeed to pray to him humbly:'Grant what you command, and command what you will.'"

50. "Ultimately, the lack of a heartfelt and prayerful acknowledgment of our limitations prevents grace from working more effectively within us, for no room is left for bringing about the potential good that is part of a sincere and genuine journey of growth. Grace, precisely because it builds on nature, does not make us superhuman all at once. That kind of thinking would show too much confidence in our own abilities....Unless we can acknowledge our concrete and limited situation, we will not be able to see the real and possible steps that the Lord demands of us at every moment, once we are attracted and empowered by his gift. Grace acts in history; ordinarily it takes hold of us, and transforms us progressively...

Friday, July 13, 2018

Contemporary Pelagianism

I hope my readers understand why I went through Chapters 3, 4, and 5 before going back to Chapter 2 of the Pope's wonderful exhortation on Holiness; I just do not like to deal with heresies! Now, in #47 the Pope tells us that "Gnosticism gave way to another heresy, likewise present in our day. As time passed, many came to realize that it is not knowledge that betters us or makes us saints, but the kind of life we lead. But this subtly led back to the old error of the gnostics, which was simple transformed rather than eliminated.

48. "The same power that the gnostics attributed to the intellect, others now began to attribute to the human will, to personal effort....It was forgotten that everything 'depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy (Rom 9:16) and that "he first loved us" (cf. 1 Jn 4:29).

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Do not extinguish the spirit of prayer

We will finish with gnosticism today. In #45 in Guadete et Exsultatae, Pope Francis quotes St. John Paul II who warned of the temptation on the part of those in the Church who are more highly educated "to feel somehow superior to others members of the faithful."
The Pope also quotes St. Francis who wrote this to St. Anthony of Padua: "I am pleased that you teach sacred theology to the brothers, provided do not extinguish the spirit of prayer and devotion during study of this kind." We also get a quote from St. Bonaventure who pointed out that true Christian wisdom can never be separated from mercy towards our neighbor. "The greatest possible wisdom is to share fruitfully what we have to give...Even as mercy is the companion of wisdom, avarice is its enemy."

Tomorrow we will look at the other contemporary heresy: Pelagianism.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Different ways of interpreting many aspects of doctrine and Christian life

We continue with Chapter Two of Gaudete et Exsultatae:

43. "It is not easy to grasp the truth that we have received from the Lord. And it is even more difficult to express it. So we cannot claim that our way of understanding this truth aurthorizes us to exercise a strict supervision over others' lives. Here I would note that in the Church there legitimately coexist different ways of interpreting many aspects of doctrine and Christian life; in their variety, they 'help to express more clearly the immense riches of God's word.....' Indeed, some currents of gnosticism scorned the concrete simplicity of the Gospel and attempted to replace the trinitarian and incarnate God with a superior Unity, wherein the rich diversity of our history disappeared.

44. In effect, doctrine, or better, our understanding and expression of it, 'is not a closed system, devoird of the dynamic capacity to pose questions, doubts, inquiries...The questions of our people, their suffering, their struggles, their dreams, their trials and their worries, all possess an interpretational value that we cannot ignore if we want to take the principle of the incarnation seriously. Their wondering helps us to wonder, their questions question us."

The underlining is always mine!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Let ourselves be guided by the Spirit...

We continue to now look at Chapter Two in Gaudete et Exsultatae as I had skipped this chapter to get to the Beatitudes, aspects of prayer, and discernment which were covered in Chapters 3,4, and 5. You can find all in the archives of my blog.

42. We cannot claim to say where God is not, "because God is mysteriously present in the life of every person, in a way that he himself chooses, and we cannot exclude this by our presumed certainties. Even when someone's life appears completely wrecked, even when we see it devastated by vices or addictions, God is present there. If we let ourselves be guided by the Spirit rather than our own preconceptions, we can and must try to find the Lord in every human life. This is part of the mystery that a gnostic mentality cannot accept, since it is beyond its control.

Monday, July 9, 2018

One of the most sinister ideologies

To continue with Gnosticism in #40 of Gaudete et Exsultatae, we are told by Pope Francis that "Gnosticism is one of the most sinister ideologies because, while unduly exalting knowledge or a specific experience, it considers its own vision of reality to be perfect. Thus, perhaps without even realizing it, this ideology feeds on itself and becomes even more myopic. It can become all the more illusory when it masks itself as a disembodied spirituality. For gnosticism 'by it very nature seeks to domesticate the mystery, whether the mystery of God and his grace, or the mystery of others' lives.

41. When somebody has an answer for every question, it is a sign that they are not on the right road. They may well be false prophets, who use religion for their own purposes, to promote their own psychological or intellectual theories. God infinitely transcends us; he is full of surprises. We are not the ones to determine when and how we will encounter him; the exact times and places of that encounter are not up to us. Someone who wants everything to be clear and sure presumes to control God's transcendence."

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today's Gospel from Mark 6:1-6 tells us how Jesus went back to Nazareth and began to teach in the synagogue when the sabbath came. Many who heard him were astonished. They did not know where Jesus had learned such wisdom. They asked: "Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house." He was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith."

This Gospel is always a call to me to deepen my own faith. Jesus comes to us in so many ways. Am I able to recognize Him in the circumstances, the people with whom I am interacting, the events of each day? I am trying to discern His Presence in my life in so many little ways by making the examen of conscience with Him each day. I have a help to do this now as I go out after supper for a walk with one of community here and we look together at our day. I also still try to keep my daily journal. I was impressed by the Pope asking every Christian to make an examen each day in dialogue with Christ. St. Ignatius always said that, if there was some reason to shorten the time of prayer, a Jesuit should never miss the time for the daily examen. It helps me get in touch with what the Lord may be trying to do in my life. I do not always do all five points but mention them here: Prayer for light, gratitude for the gifts of the day, looking back over the day to see where I may have kept or not kept my particular examen, sorrow for any faults committed, and a look to see how the next day will be more pleasing to the Lord.
Some remember 5 Rs to recall the five points. I am not sure what the 5 Rs are, but here is a stab at this memory help: Request, Rejoice, Review, Renew, and Resolve. Do try it and see how much it helps us to be in touch with the Lord during our day! 
I mention the "particular examen" because it helps to have taken one aspect of your life to change or to affirm; I often have taken joy or gratitude, but at present I am trying to look to see if I choose what is pleasing to Jesus or just choose without consulting Jesus and so may just be pleasing myself. Pope Francis suggests a real dialogue with Jesus during the time of examen and I find this helpful!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

A Deceptive Attraction

Pope Francis thinks that gnosticism exercises a deceptive attraction for some people, "since the gnostic approach is strict and allgedly pure, and can appear to possess a certain harmony or order that encompasses everything." 
38." Here we have to be careful. I am not referring to a rationalism inimical to Christian faith. It can be present within the Church, both among the laity in parishes and teachers of philosophy and theology in centers of formation. Gnostics think that their explanations can make the entirety of the faith and the Gospel perfectly comprehensible. They absolutize their own theories and force others to submit to their way of thinking. A healthy and humble use of reason in order to reflect on the theological and moral teaching of the Gospel is one thing. It is another to reduce Jesus' teaching to a cold and harsh logic that seeks to dominate everything."

Friday, July 6, 2018

Contemporary Gnosticism

The Pope continues in Chapter Two of his Apostolic Exhortation on Holiness:
36. "Gnosticism presumes a 'purely subjective faith whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information which are meant to console and enlighten, but which ultimately keep one imprisoned in his or her own thoughts and feelings.'"

37. Thanks be to God, throughout the history of the Church it has always been clear that a person's perfection is measured not by the information or knowledge they possess, but by the depth of their charity. "Gnostics" do not understand this, because they judge others based on their ability to understand the complexity of certain doctrines. They think of the intellect as separate from the flesh, and thus become incapable of touching Christ's suffering flesh in others, locked up as they are in an encyclopedia of abstractions. In the end, by disembodying the mystery, they prefer 'a God without Christ, a Christ without the Church, a Church without her people."

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Two Subtle Enemies of Holiness

We continue to look at Chapter Two in Gaudete et Exsultatae; I skipped this before but now will continue with the two enemies of holiness the Pope speaks about in this Chapter. Francis says,
"Here I would like to mention two false forms of holiness that can lead us astray: gnosticism and pelagianism. They are two heresies from early Christian times, yet they continue to plague us. In our times too, many Christians, perhaps without realizing it, can be seduced by these deceptive ideas, which reflect an anthropocentric immanentism disguised as Catholic truth. Let us take a look at these two forms of doctrinal or disciplinary security that give rise 'to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyses and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. In neither case is one really concerned about Jesus Christ or others."

Be patient as this Chapter is important; we have seen what would help us become holy in all the other chapters; now we look at what hinders holiness.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Fourth of July

I am taking a holiday today, but praying much for our country!

I will give importance now to the second chapter in Pope Francis' Gadete et Exsultate starting tomorrow. I think you will find it interesting and helpful. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Promote the desire for holiness

Today we finally come to the end of the Exhortation on Holiness with the last two sections of Chapter 5. We hear Pope Francis speaking directly to us.

176. "I would like these reflections to be crowned by Mary, because she lived the Beatitudes of Jesus as none other. She is that woman who rejoiced in the presence of God, who treasured everything in her heart, and who let herself be pierced by the sword....She teaches us the way of holiness and she walks ever at our side. She does not let us remain fallen and at times she takes us into her arms without judging us. Our converse with her consoles, frees and sanctifies us. Mary our Mother does not need a flood of words. She does not need us to tell her what is happening in our lives. All we need do is whisper, time and time again: 'Hail Mary'."

177. "It is my hope that these pages will prove helpful by enabling the whole Church to devote herself anew to promoting the desire for holiness. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us a fervent longing to be saints for God's greater glory, and let us encourage one another in this effort. In this way, we will share a happiness that the world will not be able to take from us."

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter's, on 19 March, the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, in the year 2018, the sixth of my pontificate.


Monday, July 2, 2018

No areas off limits

Continuing with the last chapter in Gaudete et Exsultate, the Pope tells us that when we examine our life's journey in God's presence, no areas can be off limits. "In all aspects of life we can continue to grow and offer something greater to God, even in those areas we find most difficult. We need, though, to ask the Holy Spirit to liberate us and to expel the fear that makes us ban him from certain parts of our lives. God asks everything of us, yet he also gives everything to us....Discernment, then, is not a solipsistic self-analysis or a form of egotistical introspection, but an authentic process of leaving ourselves behind in order to approach the mystery of God, who helps us to carry out the mission to which he has called us, for the good of our brothers and sisters."

Again, the underlining is mine!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus show us His Love and Compassion in today's Gospel. One of the officials of the Synagogue came and pleaded with Jesus saying, "My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live." Jesus starts off with him and a large crowd is also following him. A woman who had been afflicted by hemorrhages for twelve years and who had not received any help from the doctors that she had spent all she had on to find a cure, was in the crowd. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him and touched his cloak. She said, "If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured." Immediately she was cured. I think that I receive Jesus each day in the Eucharist - much more than just touching his cloak - and do I have the faith of this

woman? Jesus knew that power had gone out from him and he turned and asked who had touched his clothes. And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman then approached Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction." Then people from the Official's house arrived to say that his daughter had died. Jesus pays no attention to the message and says, "Do not be afraid; just have faith." How many times does Jesus say the same to us? Then Jesus goes and takes the child by the hand and tells her to get up. Then he says that she should be given something to eat.