Tag Archives: spirituality

Keep the conversation with the Lord going

I’ve been conscious of how busy everyone is, or pretends to be. Excuses run rampant as to why one can’t do thus-and-such, or … or …. One person asked the perennial question: How do I maintain my relationship with God? Father Giussani asked a similar of question of members of Communion & Liberation. He answered by telling his questioner that to keep the Lord’s name on our lips and to recognize the way the Lord has looked at us He looked at Zacchaeus in the sycamore tree. Giussani also reminded us to be attentive to reality as God has given it to us and not as we want it to be. Maintaining one’s relationship with God alive is easy if you move in small but deliberate steps by following a long held custom of praying short prayers that re-focus our attention: Jesus, Mary and Joseph, pray for us; Come Holy Spirit, come through Mary; Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner; O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee; Saint Catherine of Siena, pray for us; and so on. Short prayers such as these examples are remarkable keeping my mind and heart on target and away from sin. I have the practice of praying my own version of the Litany of Saints as I walk up and down the aisle when attending Mass or when I am making the Morning Offering.

Saint Josemaría Escrivá offers some guidance in this regard: “You should maintain throughout the day a constant
conversation with Our Lord, a conversation fed even by the things that happen in
your professional work. Go in spirit to the Tabernacle… and offer to God the
work that is in your hands.”

Make a spiritual communion.

Humor is a Catholic thing, really….

Humor and Catholicism are not easily cohered by many people. For some reason, many people believe that to be a Catholic, a saint, a person “in-tune” with God means, by definition, to look unhappy, if not really be, unhappy. Yea, but no. Really, the contrary is true if you know God, His Son and sacred Scripture. To have a healthy, vibrant spiritual life is have joy. We hunger for intimate connections with God, others and self. We are made for love and joy. Yet, love and joy are mysteries in the Providence, and love and joy separates us from the animals, as does freedom. And to love is be full of joy, full of humor and delight.

James Martin.jpg

Tonight, I had the pleasure of seeing an old and dear friend, Jesuit Father James Martin, speak at Yale University’s St Thomas More Catholic Chapel. Nearly hundred people were in attendance including members of the local and Yale communities. Father Martin is the Cultural editor of America Magazine, the only Catholic weekly journal of opinion. He’s the author of a plentitude of articles and several books (My Life with the Saints & The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, and he’s due to publish yet another book, Sarah’s Laugh: Joy Humor and Laughter in the Spiritual Life, in a few months.

More House logo.jpg

Martin was invited by More House to deliver the More House Lecture, which since its establishment in 1962 has had a few distinguished Jesuits. The inaugural More House Lecturer was given by Father John Courtney Murray, SJ in 1962 on the topic of the Problem of God. Martin is now on a spry list of notable –and a few ignoble– scholars and cultural types. A terrific honor, indeed.

Father Martin’s point is that joy and laughter are under-rated in the spiritual life and are essential for a healthy physical and spiritual life. To be joyful is to be in-touch with God. Joy equals holiness (for those who pray).

While humor is culturally bound in time, place and location, there is evidence that laughter had some importance among the Old Testement characters, think of Abraham and Sarah, Isaiah and in the New Testament with Jesus, think of his interchange with Nathaniel. Saints had a particular bias for humor and joy and laughter, think of Saints Teresa of Avila, Philip Neri, Benedict, Blessed John XXIII and Teresa of Calcutta, and countless others.


Father Martin had ten points in praise of humor and its intimate connection with the spiritual life:

  1. humor evangelizes; humor shows others our faith in God, in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead; humor shows the victory of love over hatred;
  2. humor is a tool for humility; it aids in the quest of humility; humor is a great way to keep one grounded and away from the Deadly Sin of pride; as my mother says frequently, don’t take yourself that seriously;
  3. humor shocks the hearer to hear something new; humor gets the point of across
  4. humor speaks truth to power, especially when other forms of truth-telling seem to fail; do we need more pompous, puffed-up and powerful people with a distinct lack of humor leading us, in Church and in society?
  5. humor shows Christian courage: think of Saints Lawrence and Thomas More;
  6. humor deepens a relationship with God (if you have one); by analogy –Catholics love theological analogies: being in relationship with God is like being on the phone–someone talks and someone listens; a healthy relationship with God would mean that joy is very much a part of one’s relationship with God; as Father Martin pointed out from the Ignatian spirituality point of view, can I imagine that God might want to be playful with me? Can I delight in God’s desire for giving me the unexpected? Can I, like the Prophet Isaiah, allow God to delight in me and I delight in God?
  7. humor shows genuine hospitality, it shows the other that being welcome in a place is a virtue;
  8. humor is healing –it releases endorphins; one never laughs at sin or personal hurt but in its proper place humor gives us a break;
  9. humor opens our minds –it helps us to relax; humor helps get the message across, eases the burdens and allows us to imagine being personally with Jesus; joy is the surest sign of the Holy Spirit;
  10. humor is fun and fun is a foretaste of heaven.

 Thanks be to God for the grace of laughing. John Paul II and Benedict XVI have also showed us the value and place of humor in life. As I have said before here: can I really take my humanity seriously? Can I be joy-filled? Can I allow God to show me the way to Him through humor?

Faith in Christ’s Divine Merits

Eucharist Institution.jpgSome friends and I at the parish have been reading a series of Pope Benedict’s homilies on the Eucharist taken from his book, God is Near Us. I recommend paying attention to every page of this small collection of Benedict’s. Reading through some meditations of Blessed Columba Marmion, the famed Benedictine monk and spiritual master struck me. He wrote,

To believe that Jesus is God, is to acknowledge that He has every right over us, it is to surrender ourselves to Him without reserve, to allow Him to act in us as absolute Master.
When we live by this faith, we say to Our Lord: “I love Thee, I adore Thee, I give myself to Thee by my submission to Thine every will, by leaving all that Thou does desire of me; I wish to live in complete dependence on Thee.” Then Christ takes us by the hand and draws us close union with Himself.
Moreover, faith in the Divinity of Jesus produces great confidence in our souls. His merits are those of a God, therefore they are infinite, and they are ours, we may dispose of them. His redeeming blood can blot out all our sins and all our infidelities; we may hope for all the graces of which we have need, for He intercedes for us.
United to His intercession and clad with His merits, let us not fear to draw nigh to the Father and to speak to Him, in the Name of His Son, with unshaken and boundless trust.
Blessed Columba Marmion, OSB
Revue Liturgique et Monastique

Sacrament of Mercy Conference

A friend, the Rev’d Canon Matthew R. Mauriello, has organized the forthcoming Conference on the Sacrament of Mercy to be held in Milwaukee, 8-9 October. There are several excellent speakers to note.

If you are in the area, perhaps you can participate. But being united in prayer is very welcomed. Perhaps the intention could be to ask the Lord to show us His mercy so that we can be merciful. In so many places and circumstances in the Church love shown to its extreme limits –mercy– is lacking. There is something wrong with this experience. Pray to Saint Matilda of Hackeborn, as Pope Benedict suggested earlier this week.
See the program here: Sacrament of Mercy Conference.pdf

Holiness is a disposition of the heart

Christian hope is not based on personal merit, nor
upon good works, nor good intentions
, for all these are too transitory, and too
utterly disproportionate to the attainment of God; rather, our hope is based
upon God himself
, upon Christ the one Mediator and Savior.

For hope not to
become rashness, it must obviously be accompanied by personal effort and
diligence; still we must be convinced that all our good will and good works are
always insufficient; only God can sanctify us, only God can raise us up to himself
and give us himself as our possession. Only God, the object of our hope, is
also the support of hope, its buttress, its fulcrum.

With this in mind St.
Therese of the Child Jesus wrote: Sanctity does not consist in this or that
practice; it consists in a disposition of the heart which make us humble and
little in the arms of God, conscious of our weakness, and confident to the
point of audacity in the goodness of our Father (Novissima Verba, pg. 29).

Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD

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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