Tag Archives: spiritual life

All I have is what I love

It is said that one of our late Benedictine abbesses said, “All I have is what I love!” This is what learned in homily today at Vespers.

A true judgment of man’s spirit and humanity. It is a touchstone in understanding who each of us is before God and others. The question” What do I love?” needs to be asked and answered daily. In fact, that is what happens in the daily Ignatian Examen. The discovery in answering this question is a work.

But as fragile people we are easily distracted; we can fool ourselves by making excuses, and rationales get in the way. Still, “What do I love” requires a concrete answer. What specifically do I love? Deeper down, a love holds my heart?
What stands out in what St Paul said today in his Letter to the Philippians:
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence
and if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
Keep on doing what you have learned and received
and heard and seen in me.
Then the God of peace will be with you.

St Paul’s letter can remain in the abstract and useless without going deeper in ascertaining the meaning of the various points the Apostle raises viz. our experience. Hence, we have to ask: What do I think is true? What is does it means to act honorably? What difference does purity make? What does the word gracious mean to mean?
It seems that this matter one of several keys for the spiritual life, and not mere word-smithing and academic argumentation. What it does necessitate, I have learned, is a disciplined focus of mind and heart in working with divine revelation.

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.

Humanity’s true glory is perseverance

To serve God does not mean giving him any gift, nor has God any need of our service. On the contrary, it is he who gives to those who serve him life, immortality and eternal glory.

He rewards those who serve him without deriving any benefit himself from their service: he is rich, he is perfect, he has no needs.

God requests human obedience so that his love and his pity may have an opportunity of doing good to those who serve him diligently. The less God has need of anything, the more human beings need to be united with him.

Consequently, a human being’s true glory is to persevere in the service of God

Saint Irenaeus
Against Heresies

In the face of life’s perils, can we really trust in the Lord?

We all have to face the contours of our existence. Not to do so seems to side-step the gift of freedom and to minimize our desires for happiness. Not knowing where we are going is OK. It is not the how, but the what of our lives that matters. For the Christian, the only reasonable way to engage one’s desires, one’s moral life, freedom, faith, other people is to trust in someone who is greater; the One who comes before all else that IS. The famed Thomas Merton begins to expand what our existence consists in. Give some thought to Merton’s guidance.

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Thomas Merton

Thoughts In Solitude

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Without perseverance no one can please God, St Catherine of Siena taught

Who we read impacts the way we live. Catherine of Siena, whom the Catholic Church honors today, has much to say to the modern person. In one of her letters we read the following, which ought to bolster our approach in our daily work.

To Sano Di Maco and All Her Other Sons in Siena: In the Name of Jesus Christ crucified and of sweet Mary:

Dearest sons in Christ sweet Jesus: I Catherine, servant and slave of the servants of Jesus Christ, write to you in His precious Blood: with desire to see you strong and persevering till the end of your life. For I consider that without perseverance no one can please God, or receive the crown of reward. He who perseveres is always strong, and fortitude makes him persevere.

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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