Tag Archives: spiritual life

A Still Small Voice: meeting God

Still small voice.jpgThe first reading from today’s Scripture readings at Mass call us to reflect on how Revelation is made known to us; in what ways do we meet God? How are we to understand the teachings of the many saints and others who have claimed to have encountered God? Knowing who are true visionaries is rather difficult, I have to say, and some are even frauds. The credibility of the witness is so crucial here since we only have indirect knowledge of God because only Jesus’ Mother (and family) and apostles had direct experience of Him, how can we talk about an encounter with the Lord. One way to wrap our minds around meeting the Divine Majesty is to listen, in part, to Father Benedict Groeshel:

The best lesson one may learn from these authenticated and canonized visionaries is to do what you are supposed to do and leave the rest to God. The fulfillment of duty is the guiding principle of any decent moral life, in any religion of the world, because it expresses the natural law and is completely consistent with the revealed law of God. The fulfillment of duty placed before us by the providential circumstances of life, as we are guided by the commandments and the teaching of the gospel, is the straight road to God. Along that road any valid religious experience which occurs may be useful.
Father Benedict Groeshel, CFR
A Still Small Voice, p. 138

Are you making the right connections?

The less we connect the providence of God with all
that happens,
the more we are upset with the smallest annoyances in life.

Servant of God Archbishop Fulton
J. Sheen

Created good and love by God

Going along in my uncertainties I muddle over questions of life that affect me on the spiritual level. Perhaps others do the same. One of the things that Father Carrón is asking in his 2011 retreat for the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation is: do we recognize that despite our human weakness, or failings, that Christ still loves every part of me? Yes, but not always. Sometimes it is difficult to be aware such an expression of the Other. Why this is so, I am still trying to figure out. Let me know when you get the answer. The Abbot of Christ in the Desert in New Mexico writes a weekly online column which is often insightful. The following is a portion of that column that used for reflection:

Some people are insistent at times, to me, that it is
impossible any longer to lead a truly chaste and celibate life. My general
reply is that it has always been more or less impossible and is only truly
possible when there is a strong faith and a deep commitment to the Lord and a
trust that God will give us the strength that we need. Without a doubt that
have always been failures and there will always be failures, but that is to be
taken for granted in the human condition. Repentance and conversion are a part
of any Christian life and are always values and realities that struggle against
the brokenness that we find within us.

There is no doubt that all of us are
created good and that God always loves us. Our own understanding of ourselves,
though, helps us understand that our goodness has been compromised by others,
by ourselves and by situations outside of our control. The gifts of repentance
and conversion help us in our struggle against all within us that has been

This gift of the capacity to struggle against our brokenness is
one of the gifts of salvation given to us in Christ Jesus. Jesus is a model for
us in His humanity because He lived for truth and for the glory of His Father.
Jesus won and wins salvation for us by giving Himself up to death and by rising
from the dead.

Father Philip,

Abbot of Christ in the Desert Monastery

Examination of Conscience for priests

confession-6.jpgThe Congregation for Clergy published an examination of conscience entitled “The Priest, Minister of Divine Mercy: An Aid for Confessors and Spiritual Directors” which hopes to reinvigorate the priest’s spiritual paternity by a recovery of the sacrament of Confession by penitent and confessor. Here is yet another aspect of the new evangelization called for by Blessed John Paul II and now Pope Benedict: the renewal of priests and people through Reconciliation.

“The Priest, Minister of Divine Mercy” is the fruit of Pope Benedict’s Year for Priests. As Cardinal Piacenza notes, this “is a measure of authentic faith in the saving action of God which shows itself more clearly in the power of grace than in human strategic or pastoral initiatives which sometimes overlook this essential truth.” A sobering statement for one who works in a parish.

On the surface it seems that this text is exclusively for the clergy. Don’t be fooled into putting it aside.  I would recommend it to the laity as well. Be acquainted to the sacrament of Confession, the theology and practice of the Church and what the Church expects of her clergy. We have to help each other see Christ’s work among through concrete manifestation of Divine Mercy.

Consider the ideas found in the introduction (the link to the full text is at the end):

“It is necessary to return to the confessional as a place in which to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but also as a place in which “to dwell” more often, so that the faithful may  and compassion, advice and comfort, feel that they are loved and understood by God and experience the presence of Divine Mercy beside the Real Presence in the Eucharist”.

With these words, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI addressed confessors during the recent Year for Priests, indicating to each one present the importance and therefore the apostolic urgency of rediscovering the Sacrament of Reconciliation, both from their viewpoint of penitents as well as that of ministers. Along with the daily celebration of the Eucharist, the availability of the priest to hear sacramental confessions, to welcome penitents, and to accompany them spiritually when they so request, is the real measure of a priest’s pastoral charity. By their availability, priests give joyful witness and in a certain sense take upon themselves their true identity, redefined in the Sacrament of Holy Orders and not reducible to a mere functionality. The priest is a minister, which is to say that he is at the same time both a servant and a prudent dispenser of Divine Mercy. To him is entrusted the serious responsibility “to forgive or to retain sins” (cf. John 20: 23).

Rembrandt The Return Of The Prodigal Son.jpg

Through him, and through the power of the Spirit who is the Lord and Giver of Life, the faithful are able to experience today in the Church the joy of the Prodigal Son, who after a life of sin returned to his father’s house in the manner of a servant but was welcomed with the dignity of a son. Whenever a confessor is available, sooner or later a penitent will arrive. And if the confessor continues to make himself available, even stubbornly so, sooner or later many penitents will arrive! Our rediscovery of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, both as penitents and as ministers, is a measure of authentic faith in the saving action of God which shows itself more clearly in the power of grace than in human strategic or pastoral initiatives which sometimes overlook this essential truth.

Responding to the appeal of the Holy Father and expressing his profound intent, this aid is intended as yet another fruit of the Year for Priests, to be a helpful instrument for the ongoing formation of the Clergy and an aid in rediscovering the indispensible value of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and of Spiritual Direction. The new evangelization and the ongoing renewal of the Church, semper reformanda, draw their life blood from the true sanctification of each member of the Church. It is clear that sanctifi cation must precede both evangelization and renewal, for it lays claim to and forms the necessary precondition for every effective apostolic effort, as well as for the reform of the Clergy.

In the generous celebration of the Sacrament of Divine Mercy, each priest is called to experience for himself the uniqueness and the indispensability of the ministry entrusted to him. Such an experience will help him to avoid the “ever-changing sense of identity” which so often marks the existence of some priests. Instead, his experience will cultivate within himself that sense of wonder which fi lls his heart, for through no merit of his own he is called by God, in the Church, to break the Eucharistic Bread and to forgive the sins of others.

Here’s “The Priest, Minister of Divine Mercy: An Aid for Confessors and spiritual Directors”: Examination of Conscience for confessors and spiritual directors.pdf

Love is the means to overcome darkness of heart


Affability joined to love is an efficacious means of insinuating ourselves into the minds of men and of inducing them to embrace things that are most repugnant to human nature.

Saint Vincent de Paul

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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