Spiritual Life: July 2011 Archives

Going along in my uncertainties I muddle over questions of life that affect me on the spiritual level. Perhaps others do the same. One of the things that Father CarrĂ³n is asking in his 2011 retreat for the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation is: do we recognize that despite our human weakness, or failings, that Christ still loves every part of me? Yes, but not always. Sometimes it is difficult to be aware such an expression of the Other. Why this is so, I am still trying to figure out. Let me know when you get the answer. The Abbot of Christ in the Desert in New Mexico writes a weekly online column which is often insightful. The following is a portion of that column that used for reflection:

Some people are insistent at times, to me, that it is impossible any longer to lead a truly chaste and celibate life. My general reply is that it has always been more or less impossible and is only truly possible when there is a strong faith and a deep commitment to the Lord and a trust that God will give us the strength that we need. Without a doubt that have always been failures and there will always be failures, but that is to be taken for granted in the human condition. Repentance and conversion are a part of any Christian life and are always values and realities that struggle against the brokenness that we find within us.

There is no doubt that all of us are created good and that God always loves us. Our own understanding of ourselves, though, helps us understand that our goodness has been compromised by others, by ourselves and by situations outside of our control. The gifts of repentance and conversion help us in our struggle against all within us that has been compromised.

This gift of the capacity to struggle against our brokenness is one of the gifts of salvation given to us in Christ Jesus. Jesus is a model for us in His humanity because He lived for truth and for the glory of His Father. Jesus won and wins salvation for us by giving Himself up to death and by rising from the dead.

Father Philip,

Abbot of Christ in the Desert Monastery

On my mind and in my heart I have been thinking a priest who died on 3 July at his own hand. Father Paul Archambault, 42, priest of the Diocese of Springfield, MA, had his demons with which to struggle in this life; his struggle is not unlike the rest of humanity, that is, a struggle to live with great humanity tensions between grace and sin. I didn't know Father Paul; I am nonetheless moved by his hasty act and struck by his death at this young age, one that I share with him. Father Paul's desperate act of suicide is bewildering and saddening. My reflections lead me to say that sometimes we are consumed by sin (or some other weakness) and forget that there is Friendship beyond all others really cares for us. Nevertheless, Christ is present to sustain us when we can't remember that He's offered us the Hundredfold.

Father John Lessard, former pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Holyoke and friend of Father Paul, delivered the words noted below at the funeral at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Northampton on July 12.

What is our response to this tragic end of a priest? First, I would suggest that we beg the Holy Spirit to preserve us from nihilistic temptations. Suicide is a mis-understood act that many are tempted, even priests. In a week's time I know of one other priest who attempted suicide and lived. And over the years, I have known four priests to have committed suicide. Second, cast an eye of mercy on those who struggle with the temptation to permanently end their pain and suffering. What are the distinguishing characteristics of Christ's presence in these events? Third, pray for priests. Fourth, be a good friend to others, particularly priests.

Let us help each other see the Face of Christ. Let us also pray for each other, and at this time all those who mourn Father Paul Archambault. Also, I would also caution against defining a person exclusively by some of his or her actions. We are more than one or two actions.

Here are a few paragraphs. For the rest of Father Lessard's address, you may read it here.

Paul Archambault.jpg

So,  it is with the Sacrament of Holy Orders of the Priesthood. Grace. Not magic. And a man who enters into this unique and tremendous Sacrament, much like married people, does not become immune to anything but rather can count on his troubles to increase as the evil enemy fights with all his might to take down a priest. The Sacrament of Holy Orders does not prevent sickness or illness of any kind, does not cure what was already there. And we must understand that true sickness, whether it be of body or of mind is sickness; it is not chosen.  A couple of years ago, a dear friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. Would it possibly ever cross one's mind to blame her for her cancer? Of course not. If we are to love one another, care for and about one another as Christ not only asked us to do but commanded us to do and tells us our salvation rests largely upon fulfilling that command, we must put aside any and all silliness and ignorance that prevent us from seeing illness for what it is, no matter what that illness is. Would we blame a man with Parkinson's disease for his chronic illness? Of course not.  Do you blame the child who develops leukemia? The thought is absurd and ludicrous, isn't it?  And as with cancer or any other malady of the body, so with illness of the mind sometimes treatments cure, sometimes they are very successful for a number of years, sometimes they are partly and briefly successful, sometimes they fail outright.

Sanctification of priests.jpg

The feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is an apt day to pray for Catholic priests. Perhaps making time to pray the Act of Reparation, Most Sweet Jesus.

There is a plenary indulgence given for the prayer publicly recited. The usual conditions apply.

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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About this Archive

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

Spiritual Life: June 2011 is the previous archive.

Spiritual Life: August 2011 is the next archive.

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