Tag Archives: spiritual life

Christian living is a personal experience given by God

Recently I was reading some blog written by a Catholic extolling the virtues of a Melkite parish near to where she lives. Hurray! This woman found peace in the Byzantine East, and Melkite no less. What right-thinking Catholic would dismiss Eastern Christianity? All the things this blogger noted from icons, to incense, to singing the Liturgy, and the priest facing East are good and beautiful things; but the essential was missing from her comments. No mention of Jesus Christ and the personal encounter needed for the attainment of one’s Destiny. One can only say to her list of likes: so what!

The string of pearls this blogger noted are good and essential as they are constituent to an incarnational faith, that is, to our worship of the One Triune God. They are, however, meaningless if not backed by a familiarity with Scripture, an abiding love for the liturgical tradition of the Church, the clear, consistent teaching of the Church, the teachings of the Church fathers and mothers, a personal and ongoing conversion, and a humanity that is happy and making progress in working out salvation. Yet, let’s not confuse personal with private. Let me say it another way: an iconostasis doesn’t save – Jesus does; the icon of the Hospitality of Abraham doesn’t save – Jesus saves; the Trisagion doesn’t save, even if it’s a cool prayer – Jesus does. Unless there is a down-and-dirty conversion from sin to grace no piece of a religious aesthetic is meaningful or redemptive.

Remember that the Servant of God Pope Paul VI said: “the first fruit of the deepening consciousness of the Church itself is the renewed discovery of its vital relationship with Christ. A well-known thing, fundamental, essential, but never quite understood, meditated upon, celebrated enough.”

Yet, the icons, sacred music, gestures, prayers, and sweet smelling air, etc. do contribute to vitality of one’s spiritual itinerary. AND most of all, we need a renewed attention to the lex orandi tradition of the Church not just a moralist view that leads to individualism. “Church things” cultivate the beautiful aspects of Catholic living and thinking, they contribute to the process of conversion because they point to something deeper and more real than not. We are persons and not individuals who need to the beautiful, who need each other.

Today more than ever, following the indications “unto salvation’ of the saints and the angels, plus the authentic teachings and witness of church leaders like Pope Benedict, the Ukrainian Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Angelo Scola, Massimo Camisasca, Luigi Giussani, Julían Carrón, Enzo Biachi, Chaira Lubich, Sophia Cavelletti, Cristina Canetta and the like is critical for the flowering of the spiritual life. Some of these people are dead. But the point is that we are in desperate need of having a personal relationship with good men and women who point us in the right direction. These Christian leaders, through their writings and the communities they founded, are crucial because it’s only through the personal that we break out of our isolation and I dive into community, especially the community of faith. It is not easy for some to do this; all I ask is that you try. We know that the personal is respected and cherished.

The personal encounter with Jesus the Christ mediated through the Other is the logic of Christianity, indeed, that’s the point of today’s feast of the Guardian Angels: God so loves us that we have others to rely upon to help us on our way. The Guardian Angels help and support this encounter in the guided companionship we call the Church.

Following the Lord demands a profound conversion, Pope Benedict reminds

… as God himself revealed through the mouth of the
prophet Isaiah: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, / your ways are not my
ways” (Isaiah 55:8). This is why following the Lord always demands of man – of
all of us – a profound conversion, a change in our way of thinking and living,
it demands that we open our hearts to list
en, to let ourselves be interiorly
enlightened and transformed. A key point on which God and man differ is pride:
in God there is no pride, because he is the complete fullness of love and is
entirely disposed to love and give his life
; in us men, however, pride is
deeply rooted and requires constant vigilance and purification. We, who are
little, aspire to appear big, to be the first, while God, who is truly great,
is not afraid to abase himself and become last. And the Virgin Mary is
perfectly in “synch” with God: let us invoke her with confidence so that she
might teach us how to faithfully follow Jesus on the path of love and humility. 

Pope Benedict XVI
Sunday Angelus, excerpt
30 September 2012

Re-creating the Apostleship of Prayer

I would hope that Catholics know and utilize the work of of the Apostleship of Prayer. You would know the Apostleship because of their publication of the Pope’s monthly prayer intentions, the advocacy of the Morning Offering and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Well, there is good work being done to make the ministry of these faithful Jesuits more known so as to lead all to Christ. 

Cindy Wooden of CNS notes, 

“Membership in
the Apostleship of Prayer involves a commitment to beginning each day with a
prayer offering one’s life to God and praying for the needs of the universal
church and the intentions of the pope. Members promise to end each day
prayerfully reviewing their blessings and failings.

The morning offering and
prayers are the basic membership requirements, and in many countries the
apostleship has no registration, no groups, no fees, and no special meetings.
The Jesuits estimate that about 50 million people fulfill the membership
requirements in the apostleship and its youth wing, the Eucharistic Youth

The September 17th article is here.

Please join the Apostleship of Prayer (see the link above).

Dolan meet Colbert

Dolan and Martin.jpg

One of the most clever, that is, funny men in show biz today is Stephen Colbert. He’s also practicing his Catholicsm and serves as a catechist.
Mr Colbert, with a friend, Jesuit Father James Martin of American Magazine will host a show with New York’s archbishop, Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan. Get ready for a laugh!
On the Cardinal’s blog there’s his article “Humor, Joy and the Spiritual Life.”
Laurie Goodstein from the NY Times wrote, “A Comedian and a Cardinal Open Up on Spirituality.”
On the AP is Rachel Zoll’s article: “Colbert to NY Fordham students: ‘I love my church.

Prayer participates in Christ’s coming in glory

Prayer enables us to discern the events of history in
the light of God’s plan for the spread of his Kingdom. That plan is symbolized
by the book closed with seven seals which only the Lamb, the crucified and
risen Lord, can open. In prayer, we see that Christ’s final victory over sin
and death is the key to all history. While giving thanks for this victory, we
continue to beg God’s grace for our earthly journey. Amid life’s evils, the
Lord hears our prayers, strengthens our weakness, and enables us to trust in
his sovereign power. The Book of Revelation concludes with Jesus’ promise that
he will soon come, and the Church’s ardent prayer “Come, Lord
Jesus!”. In our own prayer, and especially in our celebration of the
Eucharist, may we grow in the hope of Christ’s coming in glory, experience the
transforming power of his grace, and learn to discern all things in the light
of faith. 

Pope Benedict XVI 
General Audience
12 September 2012

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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