Category Archives: Spiritual Life

The Visitation as a model for Christian life

Visitation LRobbia.jpgAdvent is moving us closer and closer to the Incarnation of the Eternal Word of God–Jesus. Among the rich readings of sacred Scripture we have in the Liturgy, there is today’s that recalls for us Mary’s visiting her cousin Elizabeth who is pregnant with John the Baptist. The Visitation is the second of the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary.

Looking at what is given to us to meditate on, the vocation of woman is brought out. Looking around us the culture does’t offer too many exceptional models of woman for us to take inspiration. 
This morning we prayed the Sacrifice of the Mass with the young women of New York’s Dominican Academy, Dominican Father Ignatius Schweitzer said he noticed six characteristics which portray Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as a fitting role model for all people, but noteworthy of women. While Mary may be a little removed from some Christians real experience, I think the lack is filled with Mass readings today.
The six characteristics are:
1. Mary is a woman of faith;
2. Mary puts her faith into action;
3. Mary takes the initiative;
4. Mary brings joy to Elizabeth;
5. Mary is a community-builder;
6. Mary is a caring mother.
It is up to us to flesh out the details of these characteristics because TODAY the Savior is recognized.

Create a space for silence, Bishop Hugh Gilbert tells us

Silence is misunderstood by so many people today. Some friends and family think that being silent is horrible, or that it is a punishment for something. Silence may have been used as a weapon, but in reality, it is not and silence ought not be used as such, ever. The new bishop of Aberdeen (Scotland), Hugh Gilbert, delivered his first pastoral letter on the subject of silence. As a Benedictine he is attune to the contours of silence as Saint Benedict exhorts followers of his Rule for Beginners to live in an atmosphere of silence. Could what Bishop Hugh offers be of assistance to us?

We live in a noisy world. Our towns and cities are full of noise. There is noise in the skies and on the roads. There is noise in our homes, and even in our churches. And most of all there is noise in our minds and hearts.

The Danish philosopher Kierkegaard once wrote: ‘The present state of the world and the whole of life is diseased. If I were a doctor and I were asked for my advice, I should reply: “Create silence! Bring people to silence!” The Word of God cannot be heard in the noisy world of today. And even if it were trumpeted forth with all the panoply of noise so that it could be heard in the midst of all the other noise, then it would no longer be the Word of God. Therefore, create silence!’

‘Create silence!’  There’s a challenge here. Surely speaking is a good and healthy thing? Yes indeed. Surely there are bad kinds of silence? Yes again. But still Kierkegaard is on to something.

There is a simple truth at stake. There can be no real relationship with God, there can be no real meeting with God, without silence. Silence prepares for that meeting and silence follows it. An early Christian wrote, ‘To someone who has experienced Christ himself, silence is more precious than anything else.’ For us God has the first word, and our silence opens our hearts to hear him. Only then will our own words really be words, echoes of God’s, and not just more litter on the rubbish dump of noise.

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Forgiveness Has Implications in This Life, the Next

Last Sunday’s Mass readings centered our attention on fraternal charity, fraternal correction. We have to heal the person who causes harm because he or she needs the healing more. The Rule of St Benedict and Pope Benedict had something to say about it. This coming Sunday’s reading continues the theme of forgiveness. The Church in her wisdom keeps on reminding us of the facts that make up the Christian journey and how to live within these “facts” so that we thrive. 


Basilian Father Thomas Rosica’s reflections on this coming Sunday’s readings on forgiveness are appropos.


What does it mean, “to forgive”? First of all forgiveness implies that there is something to forgive. Whether it’s something big or small, the need for forgiveness means somebody has done something wrong. The Greek word used for “forgiveness” in today’s parable means “to send away” or “to make apart.” Forgiveness “sends away” whatever has been keeping people apart. Anger or feelings of vengeance are “sent away.” By forgiving, one is no longer under the control of that past sinful act he suffered. We know that Jesus demands boundless forgiveness of his disciples. Forgiving and showing mercy, however are not always simple matters.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that the people will be reconciled immediately. Nevertheless, it begins the healing process and helps to remove feelings of revenge. To ignore Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness has serious implications in this life and in the next. Do we really believe that our eternal destiny and salvation are harmed or hindered by our inability to forgive while we are on this earth? How do we do justice and show mercy? These are certainly not easy questions for us to answer and they surface in us a myriad of emotions that are also present in this parable.

The Church is called to break down the barriers that divide peoples, to build up relationships of trust and to foster forgiveness and reconciliation among peoples who have become estranged. As followers of Jesus we must be prophets of justice and peace, and always passionate about the suffering of humanity in our times.

Father Thomas Rosica, CSB  

“Forgiveness Has Implications in This Life, the Next

Biblical Reflection for 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time A”

Fraternal love and correction essential, Pope reminds

Christ washing the feet Tintoretto.jpgOne of the themes from Oblate retreat this past weekend was humility. And from within the Gospel and Saint Benedict’s vision of humility Brother John Mark spoke about love and fraternal relations, particularly rubbing elbows in true charity with your brother and sister in community. A stone is only polished when it meets other stones.

Pope Benedict brings up the human desire to be in community with other other people: how good it is for brothers and sisters to live in unity, St Paul says. But this unity and love have one condition: “You will love your neighbor as yourself” (Romans 13:8-10). Some take this point as an easy thing to do. I assure you, it is not. This past Sunday’s Scripture readings teach this point.
In his Rule, Saint Benedict places a strong emphasis on mutual responsibility (“a reciporcal responsibility” the Pope calls it) and charity toward the other person is lived only in a personal way. Benedict XVI argues as Saint Benedict did before him, “that there is a co-responsibility in the journey of the Christian life: everyone, conscious of his own limits and defects, is called to welcome fraternal correction and to help others with this particular service [of forgiveness and healing injuries].

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No substitute for a personal encounter with the Lord


St Peter walking on water LBorrassa.jpgJesus invited us to meet. Saint Benedict’s talked about it; a plethora of saints have talked about it; Fr Giussani constantly talked about it; Pope Benedict XVI talks about it: nothing can substitute for personally knowing Jesus. Want to be a Christian? Go and meet Christ in Scripture, in the Holy Eucharist, in personal and communal prayer, in doing good works. In short, meet Jesus Christ by the ears of your heart and in your minute by minute human experience.

Saint Benedict asked a question that ought to be remembered:

What, dear brothers, is more delightful than this voice of the Lord calling to us? See how the Lord in his love shows us the way of life. Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who called us to his kingdom (RB, Prologue, 20-1).


After reading the Holy Rule, I read the following from The Way of the Disciple:

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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