Spiritual Life: February 2011 Archives

Thinking about uniting ourselves closely to Christ I was wondering what prayer is and it is connected with my relationship with Him. The Pope said earlier this month that "prayer, on the one hand, must be very personal, a uniting of myself with God in my innermost depths. It must be my struggle with Him, my search for Him, my gratitude for Him and my joy in Him. Yet it is never something private of my individual 'ego' that does not concern others. Praying is essentially and also always praying in the 'we' of God's children. "In this 'we' alone are we children of Our Father, which the Lord taught us to pray. This 'we' alone gives us access to the Father. On the one hand our prayer must become more and more personal, must touch and penetrate ever more deeply the nucleus of our 'ego'. On the other, it must always be nourished by the communion of those praying, by the unity of the Body of Christ, in order truly to shape myself on the basis of God's love" (Benedict XVI, Homily for Episcopal Ordinations, 5 Feb 2011).
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 mixed, 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).

Did God Correct Himself?

| | Comments (0)
Today's Gospel from Saint Matthew poses a crucial question for our following Christ: How do we do it? The line that is frequently often misunderstand:

Jesus said to his disciples: "You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.

Several credible witnesses give a fruitful look at what it means to be a Christian today. Saint Basil the Great  (330-January 1, 379) wrote in Letter 2 that:

We must try to keep the mind in quietness. For if the eye is constantly shifting its gaze, one moment this way or that, then veering between upwards and down, it cannot see clearly what lies directly in front of it. It has to bring its gaze to bear on this object so as to see it clearly in focus. In the same way a mind distracted by thousands of worldly concerns cannot possibly bring a steady gaze to bear on the truth.
pilgrim shell.jpgSalt + Light TV has given a wonderful gift in doing a terrific story on the ancient pilgrimage trail called in Spanish, El Camino de Santiago. The Way of Saint James. Alessia Domanico is the host of "Discovering the Way: El Camino de Santiago."

I've been wanting to walk the Camino for years. I can think of no other pilgrimage to do with gusto than this one. It may still take me time to plan and go on the Way of Saint James, but I am resolved. You???

As was said in the video, the walk along the long trail to tomb of Saint James does many things but for me it seems to me that its most important aspect is one's ability to notice beauty, to notice life. Recall that beauty is that theological datum that most speaks of God in a most authentically human and spiritual manner.

The Camino is truly about the Christian tradition, there's:

  • a great adventure, go for a purpose: you'll grow spiritually and physically
  • an opportunity to pray, to do penance, to be reminded of tradition
  • catechesis on the faith
  • an opportunity to learn Christian and civil history
  • to know your own humanity, that of the other
  • learn and experience the christian faith
  • have the goal to go to the Cathedral of Saint James to visit the relics of a great Apostle.
I would also recommend Monsignor Kevin A. Codd's book on the making the pilgrimage, To the Field of Stars.

Monsignor's blog To the Field of Stars introduces you to the pilgrimage.

The Cistercian monk, philosopher and theologian Isaac of Stella (1100-1169) was featured in the Office of Readings today: Charity is the reason why anything should be done or left undone.

Charity is the only good reason to do anything, but it also sometimes demands that we not do something we might think we want to do. There are a lot of fine distinctions one has to make in this area to live spiritually in common life and ministry. For example:

  • We are called to support one another, but not to enable maladaptive behaviors, debilitating addictions, and sins. We must bear with the burdens of others, and be willing to wash feet, but we should not take responsibility for the feelings of others.
  • We must seek ways to invite both individuals and institutions to benefit from our strengths, and invite them into the success that derives from them, but--again--we should be careful not to take interior or exterior responsibility for situations that the Holy Spirit has not, or not yet, seen fit to put in our care.
  • Sometimes the greatest charity--and often the most painful--is not giving someone what he thinks he wants.
  • We must be good to ourselves, practicing good self-care, but that doesn't mean taking it easy and just 'being nice' to ourselves. On the one hand, we must not be so hard on ourselves that our whole spiritual life becomes a rehearsal of faults and sins, for this is one of the devil's tricks in making us fail to notice God, and on the other we must also be careful not be overly forgiving of ourselves so as to effectively give up struggling with certain selfishnesses and sins.
  • We must practice the sort of self-charity that nourishes our gifts and virtues, and is ruthless in the unwillingness to put up with sin.
Thanks to my friend Friar Charles for providing grist for the mill.

St Agatha GB Tiepolo.jpgThe Church has a ministry, a role, a work, in helping to restore a person to health and wholeness because the Church is the continuation of Jesus' ministry of healing in the world today.

Last Friday and Sunday I spear-headed two gatherings for those who live with breast cancer for the feast of Saint Agatha, the patron saint for those living with diseases of the breast. These gesture of prayer and solidarity were done in conjunction with the Order of Saint Agatha, Dominican Friars Healthcare ministry and two churches.

Anointing with blessed oil is a sacramental way in which the Church through her priests is concretely present to those in need spiritual comfort by complementing the medical and social practitioners in the ministry of healing. Any illness can have the effect of personal and communal isolation. What the Church is saying by this gesture of prayer and anointing is that the person is not alone, that we, the community of faith, empathize with the effects of illness and want to be in solidarity with the ill person. As was said, "breast cancer was the best thing to have happened to me because I've had to live life differently, more intently, and in a God-centered way."

Why anoint someone? There are 5 identifiable reasons to administer the Sacrament of the Sick:
Personal and corporate renewal is always a timely topic. Recently, the Superior General of the Discalced Carmelites, Father Saverio CannistrĂ , speaking about the hope of renewing his order answered a question in what he saw as essential to renewal. I think the renewal is not only for the Carmelites but for all us. Don't you think?

In part Father CannistrĂ  said: "it is rather like the way of prayer Saint Teresa [of Avila] talks about: a growth that happens day by day, passing through moments of consolation and desolation, but with the determination to forge ahead, without giving up. The real changes which have had an effect on history, are not mere administrative reorganizations: they are changes of heart, as Scripture tells us. If we do not expose our heart to the beneficial tempest of the Spirit, then generous and prophetic initiatives cannot be born from it. Formation, both initial and ongoing, would probably be the sole help that we could offer, as an institution, to tread this path."

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.



Humanities Blog Directory

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Spiritual Life category from February 2011.

Spiritual Life: January 2011 is the previous archive.

Spiritual Life: March 2011 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.