Category Archives: Spiritual Life

Exercising proper judgment in our life so that we share in God’s glory

St John the Baptist & St Dominic.jpgLast week the novices of the Order of Friars Preachers –the Dominicans of the Province of Saint Joseph– heard the following talk by Dominican Father André-Joseph LaCasse. Father LaCasse is the pastor of the Church of Saint Gertrude, Cincinnati, OH. I am not a Dominican but I have great affection for the Dominican vocation and many friends are of that persuasion, however many readers of this blog are not Dominicans. So, I thought after reading LaCasse’s talk there is something we can all be helped by what was said about the fraternal life the Dominican Order. In my estimation Father LaCasse’s thoughts are applicable to all states of the Christian life: the single person, the married couple, the Capuchin, the secular priest, bishop, etc. In the School of Community (of CL) we’ve been working on Father Luigi Giussani’s notion of charity and sacrifice and are about to start the section on virginity. And I ask myself: How is it that as a Christian I live in a state of perpetual discernment of faith, hope and charity through a life of sacrifice? In what concrete ways do I live honestly? Well, I’m off to confession to find that out. You?

You are privileged here because you
live with friars who have lived this life for quite some time. In our community
we have two jubiliarians, one who is close to being a jubiliarian, and the rest
of us who have lived this life for over twenty years. Our lives as religious is
a steady progress towards perfection, but a perfection that experiences many
imperfections along the way
. Our lives are not extraordinary. None of us has
won prestige. None of us is in the limelight. We live ordinary lives of
consecration, hoping that we can do our best to advance the cause of Jesus
Christ and his Church.

The Dominican life is a life of
prayer, study, and the apostolate. Most days are ordinary days where you are
called to be simple servants of the Church. Do you desire to be a servant? Are
you willing to die to your own desires
in order to do the desire of God manifested
through the will of our superiors? In a real sense you will not be able to
answer this question until something is asked of you that takes real sacrifice
and humility
. But still the question needs to be asked now: Am I willing to die
to myself and become a servant of the Church? The question needs to be answered
now because from the very beginning of your discernment you must be brutally
honest with yourself.

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The Baptist calls us recognize the voice in desert

St John the Baptist Pellegrino da San Daniele.jpg

Advent is time of hope and expectation, it is also a time of repentance and conversion. Today’s readings in the Liturgy orient our attention to changing our life’s to reflect more and more the Lord’s. And the Baptist is the amazing and stirring Advent proponents to follow Jesus more closely. What is more identifiable than the Baptist’s exhortation: Prepare the way of the Lord?

St. Augustine on the gift of conversion: “What, then?
It is perhaps dependant on you, O man, if converted to God once you have earned
his mercy, while on the contrary those who have not converted have not obtained
mercy but have encountered the wrath of God? But you what resources available
to convert, if you had not been called? Was it not He who called you when you
were the enemy, to grant you the grace of repentance? So do not ascribe to
yourself the merit of your conversion: why, if God had not intervened to call
you when you fled from him, you would not have been able to look back.” St.
Augustine Expositionson the Psalmi, 84, 8-9.

Keep the conversation with the Lord going

I’ve been conscious of how busy everyone is, or pretends to be. Excuses run rampant as to why one can’t do thus-and-such, or … or …. One person asked the perennial question: How do I maintain my relationship with God? Father Giussani asked a similar of question of members of Communion & Liberation. He answered by telling his questioner that to keep the Lord’s name on our lips and to recognize the way the Lord has looked at us He looked at Zacchaeus in the sycamore tree. Giussani also reminded us to be attentive to reality as God has given it to us and not as we want it to be. Maintaining one’s relationship with God alive is easy if you move in small but deliberate steps by following a long held custom of praying short prayers that re-focus our attention: Jesus, Mary and Joseph, pray for us; Come Holy Spirit, come through Mary; Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner; O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee; Saint Catherine of Siena, pray for us; and so on. Short prayers such as these examples are remarkable keeping my mind and heart on target and away from sin. I have the practice of praying my own version of the Litany of Saints as I walk up and down the aisle when attending Mass or when I am making the Morning Offering.

Saint Josemaría Escrivá offers some guidance in this regard: “You should maintain throughout the day a constant
conversation with Our Lord, a conversation fed even by the things that happen in
your professional work. Go in spirit to the Tabernacle… and offer to God the
work that is in your hands.”

Make a spiritual communion.

Caring for friends

Let us, who have a spiritual as well as natural affection for friends who are deed according to the flesh, though not according to the spirit, have far greater solicitude and care and zeal in offering up for them those things which will help the spirits of the departed –alms, and prayers and supplications.  ~Saint Augustine of Hippo

Everyone “owes something to the world” –Chesterton reminds us: give thanks!

The news that
some Europeans have been wrecked on a desert island is gratifying, in so far as
it shows that there are still some desert islands for us to be wrecked on.
Moreover, it is also interesting because these, the latest facts, actually
support the oldest stories. For instance, superior critics have often sniffed
at the labours of Robinson Crusoe, specifically upon the ground that he
depended so much upon stores from the sunken wreck. But these actual people
shipwrecked a few weeks ago depended entirely upon them; and yet the critics
might not have cared for the billet. A few years ago, when physical science was
still taken seriously, a very clever boys’ book was written, called
“Perseverance Island.” It was written in order to show how “Robinson Crusoe”
ought to have been written. In this story, the wrecked man gained practically
nothing from the wreck. He made everything out of the brute materials of the
island. He was, I think, allowed the advantage of some broken barrels washed up
from the wreck with a few metal hoops round them. It would have been rather
hard on the poor man to force him to make a copper-mine or a tin-mine. After
all, the process of making everything that one wants cannot be carried too far
in this world. We have all saved something from the ship. At the very least,
there was something that Crusoe could not make on the island; there was
something Crusoe was forced to steal from the wreck; I mean Crusoe. That
precious bale, in any case, he brought ashore; that special cargo called “R.
C.,” at least, did not originate in the island. It was a free import, and not a
native manufacture. Crusoe might be driven to make his own trousers on the
island. But he was not driven to make his own legs on the island; if that had
been his first technical job he might have approached it with a hesitation not
unconnected with despair. Even the pessimist when he thinks, if he ever does,
must realise that he has something to be thankful for
: he owes something to the
, as Crusoe did to the ship. You may regard the universe as a wreck: but
at least you have saved something from the wreck.

Not only does the Christian encounter the great act of thanksgiving at every Mass, at moment of prayer, at the very realization that every point of life is given –and not taken– but also that everything is total grace given by God for our happiness in this life and in the next. Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

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]
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