Spiritual Life: June 2009 Archives

Joy is the sign of God

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Joy is the most infallible sign of the Presence of God.
Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.
Yesterday there was a story that caught my attention at the Catholic News Service (CNS) site: "Father's suicide attempt leads Catholic family to help others." The odd thing for me is that yesterday I put out in the parish vestibule a booklet on suicide (see below) thinking it might be helpful to some of the parishioners because the topic seems timely and since a young man accidentally committed suicide last year here.

Facing our own human frailty and that of others confronts us daily. Few escape serious impact of personal issues which belong to us, or of those of others, especially if you are pastoral care worker, teacher, nurse, doctor, priest, etc. Mental illness, the various forms of depression, emotional issues, un-processed feelings and the like all impact our lives in ways that may or may not be known to us. Certainly, some people attempt suicide to get attention, others involuntarily commit suicide while still others actually intend to do that desperate act. My first experience of suicide was during my high school years when a teacher of mine committed suicide. Over the years I've known of others --through pastoral engagements-- who wanted out of life and others who were playing a game and one-thing-led-to-another. The fact is, suicide is a reality in our lives and we have to deal with it sensitively and competently.

When I was at the Catholic Information Service at the Knights of Columbus I edited what I think is a helpful booklet to assist students, parents, clergy, pastoral care workers, teachers, really anyone interested in helping another understand the reality of taking one's life and how to be attentive to suicidal signs. It is not enough to parrot the Church's teaching and point someone to the necessary resources; you have to act like Christ and be knowledgeable enough to respond humanely and spiritually. Professionals have their work to do and friends, family and other friendly people have theirs.

Read "Coping with a Suicide: Catholic Teaching and Pastoral Practice." You can order a hard copy by sending an email to cis@kofc.org.

My Lord and my God...

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My Lord and my God, take from me everything that distances me from you.
My Lord and my God, give me everything that brings me closer to you.
My Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give my all to you.

Prayer of Saint Nicholas of Flue
patron of Switzerland

The goal of our life is to live with God forever.

God who loves us, gave us life.

Our own response of love allows God's life to flow into

    us without limit.


All the things in this world are gifts of God,

    presented to us so that we can know God more easily

    and make a return of love more readily.


As a result, we appreciate and use all of these gifts of God

    insofar as they help us develop as loving persons.

But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives,

    they displace God

    and so hinder our growth toward our goal.

In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance

    before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice

    and are not bound by some obligation.

We should not fix our desires on health or sickness,

    wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or short one.

For everything has the potential of calling forth in us

    a deeper response to our life in God.


Our only desire and our one choice should be this:

I want and I choose what better

    leads to the deepening of God's life in me.


Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises

Becoming like Christ

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Pay attention! The author has something really important to say:

The Encyclical Mystici Corporis says expressly: the Holy Spirit is communicated to the Church so that she and each of her members may become daily more and more like to our Savior. Those whom God foreknew he predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son (Romans 8:29); every Christian is holy and pleasing to God to the extent that he has become like Christ.

And it is the Holy Spirit who is the artisan who will fashion the traits of the divine resemblance in us, making us daily more and more like to our Savior. If we would cooperate fully with his action, each day would witness some progress in our becoming more like Christ.

Struck by this thought, [Blessed] Sr. Elizabeth of the Trinity prayed: Spirit of love, descend within me and reproduce in me as it were, an incarnation of the Word, that I may be to him another humanity; wherein he renews his mystery.

If Christ is the model to which all the baptized should conform, there is no presumption in aspiring to become so like him that he can renew his mystery in us, or rather, prolong in us his work of glorifying the Father and of redeeming men. Indeed this is exactly Jesus' desire in sending us his Spirit.

Father Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy

I have to admit that I am not a frequent reader of the spiritual theology of Saint Josemaría Escriva but I am more and more interested in what he said because I think there is something that corresponds to my heart. Time will tell how he will affect my my life. 

Here the saint briefly speaks to the fact that we are called by the Gospel to conform to Christ --a message I tried to get across to the parish youth group. Of course, speaking of following AND conforming the self to the Will of God is a hard concept to get across to anyone let alone young people. As Christians we follow; we also closely adhere to the cross while looking to the resurrection. Be careful, you don't get the resurrection without the cross coming first.

Back to the saint's thought: Saint Josemaria said, for example, about the matter of sanctity and priesthood:

There is no second class sanctity: there is either a continuous struggle to be in the grace of God and conformed to Christ our model or we desert these divine battles. Our Lord invites everyone to sanctify himself in his own state. In Opus Dei this passion for sanctity--in spite of our individual errors and miseries--is not changed by the fact that one is a priest or a layperson. 

Saint Josemaría, Homily, Priest for Eternity, 13 April 1973

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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This page is a archive of entries in the Spiritual Life category from June 2009.

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