Category Archives: Spiritual Life

The words we use

Given what I wrote the other day in a blog post, “Choose life” this post using a piece of Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis (now Fr Simeon, OCSO, monk of Spencer Abbey) from his magisterial work Fire of Mercy: Heart of the Word puts a finer  point on what I tried to convey. Christians believe that life comes through the Word. Preeminently, life comes through the Eternal Word of God –Jesus.

Our best words are far more than units of information; they are epiphanies of the truth and gifts through which we can communicate to others our own deepest being and the life of God that has been deposited into our “treasury of goodness.”

Like the divine Word, our own words have the vocation and the mission to do the work that God has purposed. Our words, springing out of the divine Word planted deep within us by baptism and the Eucharist, are called to be further incarnations in the world and in history of the one Word spoken by God in his heavenly dwelling before the beginning of all ages.

 

Angels defend us

Scripture reveals and theology teaches that angels help Christians fight the devil. Angels, those holy spirits who bring God’s messages to us help to overcome temptation. Good pastoral advice is to pray several times a day to one’s guardian angels, but also to the three Archangels, Saints Gabriel, Michael and Raphael, whom we honor today in the sacred Liturgy.
Here’s Vatican Radio’s summary of the papal homily for the Archangels, Saints Gabriel, Michael and Raphael:
“This struggle takes place after Satan seeks to destroy the woman about to give birth to a child.  Satan always tries to destroy man: the man that Daniel saw there, in glory, and whom Jesus told Nathanael would come in glory. From the very beginning, the Bible speaks to us of this: Satan’s [use of ] seduction to destroy. Maybe out of envy. We read in Psalm 8: ‘Thou hast made man superior to the angels,’ and that angel of great intelligence could not bear this humiliation, that a lower creature was made superior to him; thus he tried to destroy it.”
“So many projects, except for one’s own sins, but many, many projects for mankind’s dehumanization are his work, simply because he hates mankind. He is astute: the first page of Genesis tells us so, he is astute. He presents things as if they were a good thing. But his intention is destruction. And the angels defend us. They defend mankind and they defend the God-Man, the superior Man, Jesus Christ who is the perfection of humanity, the most perfect. This is why the Church honors the Angels, because they are the ones who will be in the glory of God – they are in the glory of God – because they defend the great hidden mystery of God, namely, that the Word was made flesh.”
”This struggle is a daily reality in Christian life, in our hearts, in our lives, in our families, in our people, in our churches … If we do not struggle, we will be defeated. But the Lord has given this task mainly to the angels: to do battle and win. And the final song of Revelation , after this battle, is so beautiful: Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed. For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before our God day and night”.

Choose life

The news these past days about bishops being deposed, investigated or admitting to affairs with women is rather distressing. Whether we are in Paraguay, Kansas City, Limburg, or Arundel and Brighton or anywhere else on the globe, or an average Catholic we need to adhere to Christ. To be human is to acknowledge our need for forgiveness; that we are all sinners, that is, redeemed sinners. What do we need to know? How are we to act as Christians?

Precisely because are sinners made in God’s image and likeness and that we receive the sacraments we sinners  have a Savior and a Church whose nature is mercy.  Too often in parish life or in the broader Church one can recognize the experience that there is too much gossip, faithlessness, nihilism and dysfunctional behavior. No gloating in the sin of another; no putting on aires. But let us pray for the grace of conversion and the grace to sin no more.

Being merciful and just does not mean we do nothing and sit complacent. The Church and all that we are and have are given to us by God Himself. The charitable work we are to do is to educate our hearts and minds and to keep steadfast in building the Body of Christ, the Church.

Lastly, I encourage all of us to go to confession. Examine your own consciences, and not other people’s consciences. we need to do penance. Perhaps even observe the First Friday devotion with sincerity. But we don’t need to be self-righteous and accusatory. The book of Deuteronomy exhorts us to choose life: for the Christian choosing life means to do what Jesus did with the woman at the well. The spiritual life requires our clear attention to the points of sin and grace and to move on the path to a grace-filled life.

Stay in the Church, St Augustine exhorts

Today is the 19th Sunday through the Church year and we are reading at Mass Saint Matthew 14:22-33

A reflection on the reading from St. Augustine:

“The boat carrying the disciples – that is, the Church – is rocking and shaking amid the storms of temptation, while the adverse wind rages on. That is to say, its enemy the devil strives to keep the wind from calming down. But greater is he who is persistent on our behalf, for amid the vicissitudes of our life he gives us confidence. He comes to us and strengthens us, so we are not jostled in the boat and tossed overboard. For although the boat is thrown into disorder, it is still a boat. It alone carries the disciples and receives Christ. It is in danger indeed on the water, but there would be certain death without it. Therefore, stay inside the boat and call upon God. When all good advice fails and the rudder is useless and the spread of the sails presents more of a danger than an advantage, when all human help and strength have been abandoned, the only recourse left for the sailors is to cry out to God. Therefore, will he who helps those who are sailing to reach port safely, abandon his Church and prevent it from arriving in peace and tranquility?”

Rowan Williams promotes Jesus Prayer

Rowan WilliamsThe Orthodox Christian Network reports that Rowan Williams, former archbishop of Canterbury, advocates the use of the Jesus prayer. The prayer, “Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.” The prayer is more than a self-help, it is really a game-changer in this sense: the prayer’s simplicity and profundity moves the heart to a new level of awareness of one’s relationship with the Lord; it opens the door to new a point of life in the Spirit. It is also a whole body experience in the way you position your body, how you breathe and your attitude. Difference it makes in one’s spiritual life is only understood to the degree that you are faithful to this gesture. That is, it takes years to see a personal difference.

He was asked “After God: How do we fill the faith-shaped hole in modern life?” The response is in the article, “Rowan Williams Promoting the Jesus Prayer as Answer to Modern Angst.”

In part Williams said,

The prayer isn’t any kind of magical invo­cation or auto-suggestion – simply a vehicle to detach you slowly from distracted, wandering images and thoughts. These will happen, but you simply go on repeating the words and gently bringing attention back to them. If it is proceeding as it should, there is something like an indistinct picture or sensation of the inside of the body as a sort of hollow, a cave, in which breath comes and goes, with an underlying pulse. If you want to speak theologically about it, it’s a time when you are aware of your body as simply a place where life happens and where, therefore, God “happens”: a life lived in you.

Williams is a long time advocate of Benedictine spirituality, and Orthodox theology. Westerners are familiar with the Jesus prayer.

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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