Spiritual Life: November 2009 Archives

"Freedom is to acknowledge that God is all.... It is complete self-fulfillment ... the possibility to reach and confront one's destiny" (Giussani). Pope John Paul II reminded us that "communion with the crucified and risen Lord is the never-ending source from which the Church draws unceasingly in order to live in freedom." Freedom means adhering to the risen Lord with the full force of our full-blown faith. As Cardinal Christoph Schönborn writes, "To allow oneself to be led by God, to abandon oneself to his direction, is the highest expression of our freedom." For "God willed that man should be left in the hand of his own counsel so that he might...freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him" (CCC 1730).

Fr Peter J. Cameron, OP
Magnificat April 2002
Father Luigi Squarcia.jpg

The Catholic News Agency ran this brief article yesterday (11/19/2009). It captured my mind and heart, like it did for others, because I know two people with Lou Gehrig's disease (and one is also a priest) and another priest who's living with MS. The courage, love and patience these men have witnessed is incredible. At least I think so.

Father Luigi Squarcia, a pastor in the Italian town of Acquapendente who has suffered from Lou Gehrig's disease for the last four years, met with Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday and offered his "sufferings for the good of the Church."

After the meeting with the Holy Father in Paul VI Hall, Father Squarcia said, "I came to offer the Pope my sufferings for the good of the Church. I am here, for the first time, after years of working with the parishioners and the children at our school."

Now, he told L'Osservatore Romano, "I can no longer move my arms or legs and I know I will lose my speech and later maybe the ability to breathe."  He noted that more people than ever are coming to him for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Lou Gehrig's disease is a serious neuromuscular disorder that causes muscle weakness, disability and eventually death.

*Father Luigi in a 2004 photo.

If you want a keener sense of what Father Luigi is speaking of when he says I am came offer my sufferings for the Church, then I would suggest you read Pope John Paul II's 1984 encyclical, Salvifici Doloris, where he deals with notions of suffering and how it can be redemptive. That is, how suffering can be useful for the salvation of the work if we unite our suffering to that of Christ's. Putting suffering to good use otherwise it will eat you alive and deaden you affectively and spiritually. If not redemptive then it's all-consuming and verging on nihilistic.

A friend of mine in Utah asked for prayers for the soul of a young woman, wife, and mother of 2, who took her own life after struggling with depression. Today, Bishop Walsh mentioned the New York University student who leaped to his death on Tuesday. Billie and Andrew are in need of prayers.

The NYU student's mom started a blog to her process her unconsolable grief.

Pray for this tragedy to stop. Bring your petition to the BVM so that she can assist those considering such a deed, the grace to change their mind.

A handy resource may be of assistance for those who want to help people understand suicide:

Jesus alone

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Jesus alone is "honey in th mouth, song to the ear, jubliation in heart," said Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. All knowledge of Jesus, if it is to be considered true, consists in a personal and profound experience of Jesus and of His love for us. The experience of His closeness to us, His friendship with us, and His love for us is that intimate encounter with Him.
St Vincent de Paul3.jpgO glorious Saint Vincent de Paul, the mention of your name suggests a litany of your virtues: humility, zeal, mercy, and self-sacrifice. It also recalls your many foundations: Works of Charity, Congregations, and Societies.

Inspire all charitable workers, especially those who minister to both the spiritually and the materially poor. Ask the Lord to grant us the grace to relinquish the temptation of material things in our daily effort to minister to the poor.  Amen.
H2O News has a news article on a meeting in Rome with Dr. Robert Moynihan, editor of Inside the Vatican, where he made a presentation looking at how world of the senses articulates the world of the supernatural by drawing our attention more deeply into the Incarnation. Dr Moynihan says a few good things on the video clip.
Where and how do we seek communion in prayer with God? Catholics enter into communion with God through the Blessed Trinity. I purposely ask the question this way because so often I meet Catholics who have fallen into a quasi-Protestant manner of thinking and praying. They say, "My prayer is a relationship with Jesus." They go no further. They also rarely give an indication that there are two other persons of the Blessed Trinity. Certainly, we all are to seek an intimacy with the Lord Jesus, but as Catholics our theology and its manifestation in the spiritual life through the sacred Liturgy and personal prayer is always in conversation with the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is an essential point in the spiritual life. You miss this point, you miss the point of Catholic prayer. In fact, all of our liturgical prayer, save for a few, is directed to the Father, through the Son under the power of the Holy Spirit. Catholics ought not be functionally unitarian: prayer exclusively directed to one member of the Trinity but it ought to be trinitarian:  Father, Son AND Holy Spirit. In 1989, Cardinal Ratzinger, with his typical clarity, addressed this issue in a "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on some Aspects of Christian Meditation." He said, in part:

St Ignatius of Loyola at Manresa.jpeg
"From the dogmatic point of view," it is impossible to arrive at a perfect love of God if one ignores his giving of himself to us through his Incarnate Son, who was crucified and rose from the dead. In him, under the action of the Holy Spirit, we participate, through pure grace, in the interior life of God. When Jesus says, "He who has seen me has seen the Father" (Jn 14:9), he does not mean just the sight and exterior knowledge of his human figure (in the flesh is of no avail"--Jn 6:63). What he means is rather a vision made possible by the grace of faith: to see, through the manifestation of Jesus perceptible by the senses, just what he, as the Word of the Father, truly wants to reveal to us of God ("It is the Spirit that gives life [...]; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life"--ibid.). This "seeing" is not a matter of a purely human abstraction ("abstractio") from the figure in which God has revealed himself; it is rather the grasping of the divine reality in the human figure of Jesus, his eternal divine dimension in its temporal form. As St. Ignatius says in the Spiritual Exercises, we should try to capture "the infinite perfume and the infinite sweetness of the divinity" (n. 124), going forward from that finite revealed truth from which we have begun. While he raises us up, God is free to "empty" us of all that holds us back in this world, to draw us completely into the Trinitarian life of his eternal love. However, this gift can only be granted "in Christ through the Holy Spirit," and not through our own efforts, withdrawing ourselves from his revelation (20).

I would recommend reading Cardinal Ratzinger's full letter to the bishops; it is linked above.

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 November 2009.

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