Tag Archives: spiritual life

Yearning for the riches of the Lord’s glory

The incredulity of Christ.jpgThe Incredulity of Thomas is likely one of the most identifiable images for Christians to meditate on. It is for me. Few artists can trigger my Catholic imagination as Caravaggio can. As I run through my day, I keep as a constant refrain in my mind the sentence from St Mark’s gospel: Lord, I believe; help my unbelief. Today, following from Divine Mercy Sunday, meditating on John 20:26-29 is a needed mercy.
The medieval abbot, theologian and mystic William of St. Thierry (1085-1148) has the following to say about the topic of mercy:

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Can God still surprise me?

Emmaus detail Caravaggio.jpgEarlier this evening at the School of Community we were talking about our problem recognizing Christ in daily living. In what ways am I moved by Christ? A (vigorous) prayer life keeps us focussed on the meaning of our life in Christ.

Taking some clues from Father Julián Carrón may be helpful to those who want to make sense of the spiritual life.  Father Carrón encourages a few things:
1. to understand that we need an awareness of ourself;
2. to be mindful that we never fully possess Christ in this life because Christ is a Mystery; that to possess we’d be alone and that is not what the Holy Trinity has promised;
3. yes, it is easy to complain about not being “connected” to Christ in a meaningful manner but we need to consider that to really engage in the Fact and Event of the Incarnation of the Word Made Flesh is to accept that Christ is not reducible to an idea or an opinion;
4. to recall that to have real confidence that God loves me unconditionally; that is not say that God doesn’t care about the sinful things we do, He does and he desires true Charity and justice, but His Mercy for our being is stronger than anything we could imagine.

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Happiness and fullness of being in communion, not suffering, did God make us

God did not create us for suffering and renunciation,
but for happiness, for life; not for an ephemeral happiness during life in this
world, but for an eternal and unfailing life, which can be found in God alone.
However, God passes by unnoticed by our senses, whereas the things of this
world press upon us and entice us from all sides, leading us to seek our
happiness in them.

From this arises the necessity of controlling and mortifying
their immoderate tendency toward pleasure, their looking for satisfaction in
creatures. For those who desire to attain to the fullness of life in God, St.
John of the Cross, in full accord with the gospel, suggests that they gradually
accustom themselves to gving up any sensory satisfaction that is not
purely for the honor and glory of God. . .out of love for Jesus Christ. In his
life, he had no other gratification, nor desired any other, than the
fulfillment of his Father’s will which he called his meat and food (Ascent of
Mount Carmel
I 13-4).

Again it is a question of not seeking our joy and delight
in pleasures of sense, which satisfy selfishness, self-love, and attachment to
creatures, but in the will of God, in what pleases him. If we would be
spiritual persons, we must force ourselves to change the direction of our inclination
toward pleasure by detaching it from the goods of earth and turning it
decisively toward God, until we can repeat with Jesus: I always do what is
pleasing to him (John 8:29).

Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen,
Divine Intimacy

Compunction awakens our soul

Compunction involves a moment of awakening, the first
glimmer of enlightenment, the dawning of a new day lived against a different
horizon. St. John Cassian, one of Benedict’s principal sources, defines
compunction as whatever can by God’s grace waken our lukewarm and sleepy souls
(Conferences 9:26)

This definition seems to envisage us living our spiritual
lives in a slumberous state of half-wakefulness. The grace of compunction is
the transition to a state of fuller awareness.
The great difference between the
saints and the rest of us is that they were spiritually awake more of the time
than we are; they were alert to possibilities. It is because they went through
life in a state of greater consciousness that they were more conscientious in
doing good and avoiding evil.
We who stumble through life with many mistakes
and omissions admire their saintly deeds but without necessarily realizing that
perhaps we could imitate them more closely if our spiritual senses were not so
Michael Casey, OCSO
The Road to Eternal Life

Gratitude is a sincere gift of self

The saints
(Augustine, Benedict, Dominic, Francis, Ignatius and Philip Neri) remind us of
something crucial in the spiritual life, indeed, our life right now: we need to
exercise the virtue of gratitude because of our dependence on God. Gratitude reminds that we are in need of grace but also to give of ourselves to another. Saint Thomas
Aquinas teaches that gratitude is closely connected to the cardinal virtue of
justice, by which we give what is due to others. But with gratitude there is actually a
holy exchange between two people. One person benefits from a good act of another but
also wants to repay the benefaction. Rahner spoke of giving alms at Mass as a way of being involved in the good works of the Church when giving personal time is not possible but no less important because while there is some sort of a bond among the pastor, the benefactor and beneficiary it is only made stronger because real faces are behind the dollar. Think of the times when we write a thank
you note, make a promise of a deeper connection in friendship, or even the
promise spiritual works of mercy. I frequently write, “know that you are in my
prayers” to remind me and the person I am writing that I may not be able to
give something material in return, but I can make a sacrifice of gratitude
before God on behalf of another because of friendship. Gratitude and justice is
rooted in charity, in love for another, because of the Other. I think of Blessed John Paul II’s  insistence that we ought to make “a sincere gift of self.”

Saint Ignatius tells us that to be ungrateful is a sin. Imagine if we account for acts of ingratitude in our daily examination of conscience even in Confession. How is it that today I can make a sincere gift of myself? Lent is a time to recall the concrete times we’ve been grateful and made a promise to pray for another.

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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