Tag Archives: spiritual life

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.

Is it possible to be spiritual and not religious and still be Christian?

The question I seem to come back to: who cares? In the context of the practice of religion where we often seem to slice the pie in half: spiritual and religious, one wonders even we know what the words mean. The archbishop of Chicago, Francis Cardinal George, wrote about this topic in his column for Easter in the Catholic New World. The Cardinal outlines the issue pretty well: religion is becoming an isolated affair (some use the word private but I think it is better to say isolated since many families rarely talk about transcendent things with each other), that a question of authority disappears when you “when you make it up as you go along” and what it means to say there is an objectivity of what is true, beautiful, good and one is no longer easy to hold as a given. What exactly is religion?  Not to mention, many of our friends are now saying that the faith community as less and less credibility and the community of faith is trite. The missing element here is that Christianity is not about a set of rules, it is about a person; the practice of religion is not about the worship of myself, but the worship of a personal God revealed through the biblical narrative and seen in the sacraments; Christianity’s truth is weak unless it is about conversion, vocation and mission made manifest in the life we share with others. As Cardinal Geroge said,


Meeting the risen Christ spiritually therefore depends upon believing in him religiously. We are given the gift of faith in the sacrament of Baptism, in which we are configured to the risen Christ. Faith perdures, even when there’s not a lot of spiritual tingle in our lives! “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief,” is the cry of a religious person who asks Christ to take him beyond his own spiritual experience into a new world where bodies as well as minds share in God’s grace. Faith takes seriously everything that comes from God. The faith-filled person is sure of God and distrustful of himself. Unlike faith in God, experience is often wrong in religious matters.


Here is the full text of Cardinal George’s “Easter 2013: I’m spiritual but not religious.”


In short, it is impossible to call oneself Christian and not be honestly engaged in the weekly practice of worship with the faith community and worthily receive the sacraments.

Fasting to prepare for Christmas


The Four Men in the Fiery Furnace. Три отрока ...

Latin Catholics are accustomed to fasting once a year
at Lent. Historically speaking, there was a time when the tradition of fasting
was proposed a few more times a year than merely Lent, e.g., the Assumption fast, the Saints’ fast and the Advent
fast.


Liturgically speaking the time before any great feast of the Lord (i.e., Christmas & Easter), the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, and
also of Mary (Assumption of the BVM) was preceded by a distinct time of preparation: prayer, fasting almsgiving.

In time, Catholics have relaxed some traditions and now they have become virtually obsolete. Think of the practice of Ember Days. Today, in fact, is the first of the three Advent Ember Days. You may have heard that the US bishops are encouraging the reinstitution
of abstinence on Fridays. Fasting and abstinence are different; do you know the
difference? What can we do to restore a reasonable practice of the Catholic faith that includes expanding our utilization of spiritual disciplines such as fasting? Can Catholics reinstitute the Ember Days in the praying of the Novus Ordo Liturgy?
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Goodness vs Greatness

Young man Memling.jpgToday’s gospel is the familiar narrative of the Rich Young Man: “go and sell follow me.” It is clear in Saint Mark’s rendering of the story that the young man is good. He does good things, he does what any respectable person would want to do; the young man asks the right questions; he follows what the tradition lays before him. So, the man actually is admirable according to the measure of this world. But the measure with which a person of faith judges is very different because it is a given, and not achieved. There is one that the young man’s not able to grasp: the greatness offered to him by God. He lacks the capacity to accept that it is not about the human will in attaining lasting happiness. As we know, it’s only the Infinite that suffices in answering the needs of the human heart. As the psalm indicates, filled with Love, we sing for joy. The eschatological hope we live in is one mercy’s face is more beautiful than any of the temporal riches we can conceive of. Jesus offers the young man the possibility of greatness and not mere goodness; the Lord shows him the path to eternal life, not just the best way to get through the city; God hands him holiness and not the safety of existence.

Our Lord offered the young man, and therefore us, the way to unity and deeper communion with him here, and in eternity — but the ultimate destiny for each of us is heaven. The young man’s response is understandable but not acceptable. Greatness, holiness, is a superior divine gift than being good. What do you want? What do you seek? How do you live?

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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