Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Forgotten Person of the Most Holy Trinity

How often do we forget that the Holy Spirit is also there to hear us and offer consolation?

We turn towards the Son or the Father when we pray or seek guidance. We tend to forget that it was the Holy Spirit that first gave us the gift of faith allowing us to proclaim “Abba! Father!” When we were first baptized into the faith we received the gifts of the Holy Spirit and by doing so made each one of us an adopted son and daughter of the Most High. “This knowledge of faith is possible only in the Holy Spirit: to be in touch with Christ, we must first have been touched by the Holy Spirit. He comes to meet us and kindles faith in us. By virtue of our Baptism, the first sacrament of the faith, the Holy Spirit in the Church communicates to us, intimately and personally, the life that originates in the Father and is offered to us in the Son.” (CCC 683) The Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts guiding and strengthening the baptized in living out the faith that has been given as gift. It is the same Spirit that takes our prayers and perfects them, said through the Son to the Father. Christ spoke of the living water that, when we receive it, we shall never go thirsty again. It is the Holy Spirit that is the living water welling up to eternal life. (CCC 2652)

Here is an excerpt from my own prayer journal:

“Deep within my soul is a fountain of great joy, hope and love that is beginning to overflow. This is the dwelling of the Holy Spirit and we must be refreshed by this water daily. The Holy Spirit is the living water for He and Christ are one and the same with the Father. Such a great blessing that we have in knowing we can pray in complete trust and hope in the Lord.”

“The Holy Spirit, who instructs us to celebrate the liturgy in expectation of Christ's return, teaches us to pray in hope. Conversely, the prayer of the Church and personal prayer nourish hope in us. The psalms especially, with their concrete and varied LANGUAGE, teach us to fix our hope in God: "I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry." As St. Paul prayed: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."

"Hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Prayer, formed by the liturgical life, draws everything into the love by which we are loved in Christ and which enables us to respond to him by loving as he has loved us. Love is the source of prayer; whoever draws from it reaches the summit of prayer. In the words of the CurĂ© of Ars:

I love you, O my God, and my only desire is to love you until the last breath of my life. I love you, O my infinitely lovable God, and I would rather die loving you, than live without loving you. I love you, Lord, and the only grace I ask is to love you eternally. . . . My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love you, I want my heart to repeat it to you as often as I draw breath.” (CCC 2657 2658) It is the Holy Spirit that gives us that desire to love God until the last breath of our lives. With the hope in the Holy Spirit we know that with all the challenges of our daily lives that God is always with us for He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The Lord as He has promised will never challenge us beyond our capabilities and it is with this knowledge that we can have hope.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Reflection on the Beatitudes in our Daily life (pt. 3)

The Catechism is quite clear in that we must not condemn our neighbors but forgive them and love them for God has raised our neighbors up along with us. "The Church's love for the poor . . . is a part of her constant tradition." This love is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes, of the poverty of Jesus, and of his concern for the poor. Love for the poor is even one of the motives for the duty of working so as to "be able to give to those in need." It extends not only to material poverty but also to the many forms of cultural and religious poverty.” (CCC 2444) In our caring for the poor we are in pursuit of righteousness as to deny the poor is to deny them life and the good which justice cries out to the Lanced-Pierced Heart of Christ who came and died so that all might have life. The mission of the Church stands in continuity with the mission of Christ: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you,” (Jn 20:21).

“The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God.

He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food must do likewise. But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you. If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?” (CCC 2447)

In living out the Beatitudes we are called to live out the Works of Mercy. To truly live out such a call with the heart of Christ we must be able to meet the people we minister to where they are at. The Church says that the Works of Mercy are charitable actions by which we provide for the needs of humankind and it is exactly these actions that the people we minister to feel loved. The love that the people experience can only point them towards Christ who is Love and the Ultimate Good which our entire beings are naturally directed towards.

Before we can meet others where they are at we need to meet ourselves in the reality that surrounds us. Christ says that we must remove the log in our eye before we remove the splinter in our own eyes. How can we possibly minister and perform such charitable acts with love if we do not love ourselves first? It is sheer hypocrisy to instruct, advise, and consol if we do not follow what we know to be the truth. As St. James says, “For the judgment is merciless to one who has not shown mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well," but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

Friday, August 28, 2009

Reflection on the Beatitudes in our Daily life (pt.2)

The Beatitudes are the road the humankind follows as we journey to Heaven. “What material food produces in our bodily life, Holy Communion wonderfully achieves in our spiritual life. Communion with the flesh of the risen Christ, a flesh "given life and giving life through the Holy Spirit,"229 preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace received at Baptism. This growth in Christian life needs the nourishment of Eucharistic Communion, the bread for our pilgrimage until the moment of death, when it will be given to us as viaticum.” (CCC 1392) The graces that we received at Baptism are strengthened every time that we receive the Eucharist and the graces manifest themselves in a particular way as becoming habits which become virtue. The Beatitudes are the very virtue that we achieve by living simplistically, being meek, seeking justice, maintaining the peace, having forgiveness, loving with a pure heart, but above all is standing firm in our faith that Christ is Lord now, yesterday, and forever even if it means persecution. Through the virtues of the Beatitudes that are nourished by Christ we can say that everything that we do and say is wrapped up in hope and love which leads to a growing out of ourselves and forms the agape love that makes us grow in faith. With an increase of faith, hope, and charity, we are able to act on those actions with the love that Christ has placed in our hearts. The sanctifying grace that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar imparts on us changes our very nature and hearts so that we can live lives imitating the One that showed unto us agape. It brings spiritual delight: we are drawn away from evil, strengthened in the good, and attain to a new growth in grace and virtue. We are able to keep our eyes focused on Christ amidst the storms and waves that cause us to fear and sink into the water.[1]

[1] Matthew 14:25-33

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Reflection on the Beatitudes in our Daily life (pt.1)

The Beatitudes fulfill the promise that God gave to Abraham and the people of Israel. It is a promise that is an inheritance of the Kingdom of Heaven that Christ won for humankind through His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. The Beatitudes calls humankind back to originally what we were and to be which is in the Image of the Almighty. The ultimate treasure that the Beatitudes promise us is Christ himself. Christ is the very image of the Father and it is He alone that can satisfy our restless heart. It is through Him and His Passion, Death, and Resurrection that we obtain mercy, forgiveness, and comfort as He has raised humankind up to be the sons and daughters of God. As it is Christ himself that is our reward then I ask what better way would there be to understand and gain strength to live out the Beatitudes other than placing ourselves in the presence of Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.” (CCC 1324) The Beatitudes in collaboration with the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy come from Christ and orientate our entire being towards Christ so that the vine may bear much fruit. St. John Chrysostom says, “It is not man that causes the things offered to become the Body and Blood of Christ, but he who was crucified for us, Christ himself. The priest, in the role of Christ, pronounces these words, but their power and grace are God's. This is my body, he says. This word transforms the things offered.” (CCC 1375) As we consume the Body and Blood of Christ we in turn are consumed and transformed into another Christ as given up to the Father on the Altar of Sacrifice. Through this transformation we become the sons and daughters of the Father, see, and experience Him in His Precious Son. It is through the Eucharist and what happens to us that we are granted the ability to see the face of the Father and walk in His ways.