Tag Archives: spirituality

Preparing for (real) Christian life

Good question: how does one prepare one self for Christian living? I’d suggest 

  • look for ways to grow in virtue by practice and asking for the grace from Jesus;
  • reduce time sitting in front of the TV, vedging-out; drinking, and eating bad food;
  • be aware of the ways in which self-ish behavior is the norm and make changes;
  • spend time doing lectio divina, praying the rosary and praying for enemies one’s conversion;
  • seek ways to be generous, self-sacrificing by offer a sincere gift of self, self mastery relationship with the Lord.
Many come to a conversion of life from within marriage (and some through religious vows and priesthood) but how we live our life right now is the question; it is also a matter of formation that will bear fruit later in life. Ask for the grace to live a real Christian life.

We remain images of Christ, no matter what happens…

A perplexing issue of one’s faith is accepting that no matter what we do, no matter who we become, we remain a son or daughter of God. There is no unforgivable sin except the sin of presumption against the Holy Spirit. We can do the most heinous of things, even deny God’s existence, we remain in Christ’s reach for mercy in His washing us with His own Precious Blood. History has several good examples of people doing terrible things to others and destabilizing society, but is it impossible to have mercy on these people? The question eventually becomes: Can a person who does evil things be forgiven and saved? Is forgiveness outside the realm of possibility for God, for us? If not for God, why is it that we find so difficult to be merciful toward others?

As scripture say, all have sinned and fallen short of
God’s glory (Rom 3:23) so that all of us are at some time in our lives
potentially (and unfortunately all too actually) capable of real evil. Yet no
matter how depraved people may become, they remain always images of Christ the
true Image of God. That image-quality may be soiled, tarnished, obscured and
disfigured, but is never wholly lost, never totally destroyed.

The more we
commit sin the more we weave a web around ourselves, voluntarily blocking out
his light. That is why in the incarnation God punched a hole in our self-woven
cocoon and thrust in a hand to drag us out: that is why Christ descended into
our hell of God-forsakeness – so that we could not go on pretending to
ourselves – and in that way justifying our own ghastliness to ourselves and

Meeting Christ in His Mysteries
Father Gregory Collins, OSB

Healing and forgiveness: a spiritual & psychological path to renewal

Franciscan Life Center, Meriden.jpgEarlier today I had the space of time to begin my lenten observance by thinking about healing and forgiveness. Without these two legs of the spiritual life personal renewal won’t happen. A talk was hosted by the Franciscan Life Center in Meriden, Connecticut, a ministry of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist. The executive director of the FLC Sister Barbara Johnson, FSE, made the presentation to about 75 people.

Sister Barbara, a licensed Marriage and Family therapist, began our discussion by eliciting areas that typically need healing and forgiveness: relationships (in families, among friends, infidelities, harmful family secrets, being alienated from others due to mis-awareness of reality), past events, yourself, deaths, trauma, illness, abortion, divorce, impatience, anger, acts of violence, abuse, addiction, etc. The list can be expanded. But you get the point: the human person is full of complexities.

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Planted in the Lord

Today’s first reading and Gospel ask the question (Mar 6, 2011): how, in fact, are we grounded in the Lord? Have I allowed Christ to enter into my life sufficiently and without reservation? Am I aware that Christ takes the initiative in calling me to a deeper conversion and that I have to respond? In your lectio divina today, set out to ground yourself in the Lord.

Pope Benedict’s message for the 2011 World Youth Day participants draws this line of thinking out:

“We … want to be able to see Jesus, to speak with him and to feel his presence even more powerfully. For many people today, it has become difficult to approach Jesus. There are so many images of Jesus in circulation which, while claiming to be scientific, detract from his greatness and the uniqueness of his person. That is why, after many years of study and reflection, I thought of sharing something of my own personal encounter with Jesus by writing a book. It was a way to help others see, hear and touch the Lord in whom God came to us in order to make himself known. Jesus himself, when he appeared again to his disciples a week later, said to Thomas: “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe” (Jn 20:27). We too can have tangible contact with Jesus and put our hand, so to speak, upon the signs of his Passion, the signs of his love. It is in the sacraments that he draws particularly near to us and gives himself to us. Dear young people, learn to “see” and to “meet” Jesus in the Eucharist, where he is present and close to us, and even becomes food for our journey. In the sacrament of Penance the Lord reveals his mercy and always grants us his forgiveness. Recognize and serve Jesus in the poor, the sick, and in our brothers and sisters who are in difficulty and in need of help.”

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on March 9. What is on your list of Bona Opera, your good works? Chapter 49 of the Rule of Saint Benedict speaks of the monk (here, all people) keeping Lent in front of our eyes all the time. He urges us, therefore, to do good, to keep purity in our hearts and minds by refraining from evil. Saint Benedict exhorts us to restrain ourselves from sinful habits and to devote time to prayer of the heart, fasting, lectio divina, compunction, ascetism, and charitable work.

How are you going to build your spiritual life on solid ground? In what ways are you going to be a spiritual father and mother to another? Will you pray, fast and give alms to the good works of the Church uniting your intentions with the Sacred Heart of Jesus for sake of poor, needy, the Church, the Pope, sinful people and priests, etc? Will you study the Word of God and spend time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament?

The Catholic’s perpetual second chance

signs of love.jpg

I try to communicate to others, particularly the friends I teach about the Catholic faith, that to be authentically Catholic one has to fall in love with Jesus, and to do what He does. Mercy and love are constitutive parts of being called a Christian. This not always easy. It is a human struggle for many. But we are called by the Lord Himself to love and pray for your enemies; have mercy on the sinner; forgive injuries; feed the hungry. Not willing to do this, then it would be pretty hard to convince others that your proposed faith in Christ as Lord and Savior is true. The Pope’s Angelus address earlier today gives us a clue to my point: to be a Catholic means living in the mindset of having a perpetual second chance. Read the 2 papal paragraphs:

On this seventh
Sunday of Ordinary Time the biblical readings speak to us about God’s will to
make men participants in his life: “Be holy because I the Lord your God am
holy,” we read in the Book of Leviticus (19:1). With these words and the precepts
that follow from them, the Lord invited the Chosen People to be faithful to the
covenant with him, walking in his ways, and established the social legislation
on the commandment that says that “you will love your neighbor as yourself”
(Leviticus 19:18). If we listen, then, to Jesus in whom God took on a mortal
body to become every man’s neighbor and reveal his infinite love for us, we
hear again that same call, that same objective audacity
. The Lord, in fact,
says: “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). But who
can become perfect?
Our perfection is to live as children of God in humility
concretely doing his will
. St. Cyprian wrote that “to God’s paternity there
must correspond a conduct as children of God so that God might be glorified and
praised by man’s good conduct
” (De zelo et livore, 15: CCL 3a, 83).

In what way
can we imitate Jesus? Jesus himself says: “Love your enemies and pray for those
who persecute you so that you will be children of your Father who is in heaven”
(Matthew 5:44-45). He who welcomes the Lord in his life and loves him with all
of his heart can begin again
. He is able to do God’s will: to realize a new
form of existence
animated by love and destined for eternity
. Paul the Apostle
adds: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in
you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). If we are truly aware of this reality and our life
is deeply formed by it, then our witness becomes clear, eloquent and
efficacious. An [early Christian] author wrote: “When the whole being of man is
, so to speak, with God’s love, then his soul’s splendor is also reflected
on the outside
” (John Climacus, Scala Paradisi, XXX: PG 88, 1157 B), in the
whole of his life. “Love is a great thing,” we read in “The Imitation of
Christ,” [it is] “a good that makes every heavy thing light and easily endures
every hardship. Love aspires to sail on high, not to be held back by any
earthly thing. It is born of God and only in God can it find rest” (III, V, 3).

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT, follows the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, and is an Oblate of Saint Benedict, works as a monastery farmer and a keeper of honey bees. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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