Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Movie Review of 'The Letters'

The Letters elicited many tears from me, and is a film every follower of Christ should watch. Be careful, for in this film you will see what it means to be a disciple, and you will see the reflection of Jesus throughout many of Mother Teresa's actions, even though, as later discovered in her letters, she suffered a severe "Dark Night of the Soul." 

I especially love the following scenes the most:
1. When Mother Teresa sees the poor in the streets of Calcutta from the window of her convent, we can actually see her start to hear God's "call within the call."
2. When Mother Teresa treats one of her first dying patients, one of her assistants says there is no hope and that the man is dying.  Mother Teresa says that dying alone is the biggest fear for the dying and that this man can now die in a loving presence, among people who love him.
3. When Mother Teresa is treating a dying man inside her hospice, the man raises his head and utters,"Why are you doing this for me? I am Hindu."  She replies, "Because I love you, and I see Jesus Christ in you."
4. When Mother Teresa is tempted to go back to Loreto and abandon her mission to the poor, she puts her hand on the door of the convent and realizes she can't go back and must continue with her mission to the poor, despite the enduring spiritual emptiness she feels.
5. Mother Teresa’s comment to the then radio reporter that she is merely a pencil in God's hand.
6. Mother Teresa's speech for the peace prize that includes the prayer of St Francis of Assisi: "Lord, make me a channel of your peace . . ."
7. The irony that this woman, who was an imitation of Jesus Christ, administered deep, compassionate agape to non-Christians while in an abandoned pagan temple.
8. The scene after the breech birth delivery, when the Indian man who was an antagonist for Mother Teresa, in humility, gets on his knees and kisses her feet in gratitude.

Mother Teresa loved without boundaries, even the most decrepit, diseased people whom their own family would not nurse. She loved, devoted her life to God and neighbor, even when her heart felt empty and she was convinced God had abandoned her. Mother Theresa inspires me to be a better person, to strive more deeply in my prayer life, to live the Gospel more deeply where I am, and to love more like Christ loves.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Eleven Key Points to Discernment of "Irregular" Situations from 'Amoris Laetitia' by Pope Francis

Today’s Treasures from Amoris Laetitia (301-307)
Chapter 8: Mitigating Factors in Pastoral Discernment

  • The Church possesses a solid body of reflection concerning mitigating factors and situations. Hence it is can no longer simply be said that all those in any “irregular” situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace. (301)
  • A subject may know full well the rule, yet have great difficulty in understanding “its inherent values” or be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin. (301)
  • “Under certain circumstances people find it very difficult to act differently. Therefore, while upholding a general rule, it is necessary to recognize that responsibility with respect to certain actions or decisions is not the same in all cases.” (302)
  • Recognizing the influence of such concrete factors, we can add that individual conscience needs to be better incorporated into the Church’s praxis in certain situations which do not objectively embody our understanding of marriage. (303)
  • [Conscience] can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal. (303)
  • It is reductive simply to consider whether or not an individual’s actions correspond to a general law or rule, because that is not enough to discern and ensure full fidelity to God in the concrete life of a human being. (304)
  • It is true that general rules set forth a good which can never be disregarded or neglected, but in their formulation they cannot provide absolutely for all particular situations. At the same time, it must be said that, precisely for that reason, what is part of a practical discernment in particular circumstances cannot be elevated to the level of a rule. (304)
  • Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.
  • Discernment must help to find possible ways of responding to God and growing in the midst of limits. (305)
  • In every situation, when dealing with those who have difficulties in living God’s law to the full, the invitation to pursue the [way of charity] must be clearly heard. (306)
  • Fraternal charity is the first law of Christians. (306)

We cannot reduce and judge people's less-than-ideal situations. Circumstance, context, pastoral discernment, and, most of all, the way of love will lead us all to God's will in our lives. This chapter is the most talked about in the exhortation, and most likely it serves as the dividing line for the traditionalist and historically-minded worldviews in the Church. But it doesn't have to be that way. Pope Francis uses the Church Fathers, St. John Paul the II, the Synod, Scripture, and the Catechism as the basis for his thinking.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Seven Key Points About a Parent's Role in Educating Their Children: 'Amoris Laetitia' by Pope Francis

Today’s Treasures from Amoris Laetitia (259-262)
Chapter 7: Toward a Better Education of Children

  • Parents always influence the moral development of their children, for better or for worse. It follows that they should take up this essential role and carry it out consciously, enthusiastically, reasonably and appropriately. (259)
  • Only if we devote time to our children, speaking of important things with simplicity and concern, and finding healthy ways for them to spend their time, will we be able to shield them from harm. Vigilance is always necessary and neglect is never beneficial. (260)
  • Obsession, however, is not education. We cannot control every situation that a child may experience. (261)
  • If parents are obsessed with always knowing where their children are and controlling all their movements, they will seek only to dominate space. (261)
  • What is most important is the ability lovingly to help them grow in freedom, maturity, overall discipline and real autonomy. Only in this way will children come to possess the wherewithal needed to fend for themselves and to act intelligently and prudently whenever they meet with difficulties. (261)
  • The real question, then, is not where our children are physically, or whom they are with at any given time, but rather where they are existentially, where they stand in terms of their convictions, goals, desires, and dreams. (261)
  • Education includes encouraging the responsible use of freedom to face issues with good sense and intelligence. (262)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Juxtaposition of Greatness and Service: Mark 10:43-45

  • Mark 10:43-45 (GNT): Christian Service
    “If one wants to be great, you must be the servant of the rest; and if one wants to be first, you must be the slave of all.”
    “The Son of Man did not come to be served; he came to serve and to give his life to redeem many people” (Mark 10: 43-45).

    The opposite of authority and hierarchy, Jesus’ ministry is about servitude to the “least of these,” the poor, the leper, the tax collector, and the oppressed and marginalized. Jesus models humble service, for he literally and figuratively gives his life away to all in love. Christ explicitly teaches here and throughout the gospels that ministry is for all and in service to all; it is not to be used as a tool of power and control. While earlier in Mark 10, James, John, and the rest argue over power and prestige, Jesus reminds them of their true mission -- service to others.

    In the film The Letters, the director and screenwriter portray the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. There is a scene in the movie when Mother Teresa administers to a dying Hindu man. The man raises his head and asks, “Why are you doing this for me? I am Hindu, not Christian.” She states, “Because I love you. And when I look at you, I see Jesus Christ.” If you are not familiar with this movie, please watch it on Netflix.  It shows how we, as flawed humans susceptible to temptation and doubt, can become “a pencil in the hand of God” if we say “yes” to his will. Her life defined service, even to those rejected by their own families, left to die in the rotting gutters of the Calcutta streets.

    Service, then, is not found in the power-hungry structures of society. Christian mission and “greatness” are found, instead, in the streets administering to and serving the poor and homeless, providing food and shelter to the needy, clothing and feeding kids whose parents bought crack instead of food, and giving all we can to those who are bereft of everything.  Yes, we are slaves to others and give even when we think they don’t deserve it. After all, this models Jesus’ love that he gave on the cross for each one of us in our flawed humanity.

    Please join me in this prayer:
    Lord Jesus, I want to be a servant, to give myself away to those you place in front of me. Kindly grant me the grace to be a true servant in this world, so that when people see me, they see you.  Amen.

    May the peace and love of Christ be with you all.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

3 Ways to Live a Holy Life According to St. Peter

1 Peter 1:13-17 (GNT): A Call to Holy Living
  1. Be obedient to God, and do not allow your lives to be shaped by those desires you had when you were still ignorant (14).
  2. Instead, be holy in all that you do …(15).
  3. Spend the rest of your lives here on earth in reverence for [God] (17).
Obedience, holiness, and reverence for God are three goals to which we should strive in our everyday living, imitating Christ in all things.

Loving God,
Please grant me the grace to be obedient, humble, and holy in all I do so that my living and actions of love and mercy can glorify you in this world. I pray in the name of your son Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Mark 10:21-22 (NRSV): Disordered Affections

Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

This rich man runs up to Jesus asking what he can do to receive eternal life, for he has already been a follower of the Ten Commandments since his youth. This rich man seeks to do something comfortable to achieve eternal life. But when Jesus calls him out and tells him to renounce his disordered attachments, in this case possessions, the man grieves and goes away, leaving behind God’s will for a fabricated, false will of his own.

Disordered attachments are dangerous in our relationship with Jesus and can silence his grace in our hearts.  The New York Times bestselling author Jim Martin writes about the dangers of disordered attachments in his book The Jesuit Guide to Almost Anything:
“Disordered affections” is [Ignatius of Loyola's] way of describing whatever keeps us from being free. When Ignatius says that we should be “detached,” he’s talking about not being tied down by unimportant things. Here’s a quick example. What happens if your overriding concern in life is making money? Well, in that case you might not be as open to spending time with people who won’t advance your career. You might be less likely to take time off. You might even begin to see other people only as tools—or worse, obstacles—in your quest for upward mobility. Gradually, you might start to see everything as revolving around your job, career, and desire to make money. Now, work is part of everyone’s vocation in life. But if, over time, you find yourself sacrificing everything else to that one end, you might discover that work has become a kind of “god” for you. When people ask me whether anyone could ever break the first commandment (“You shall have no other gods before me.”) I often say that while few people today believe in multiple gods, as in the past, many more may believe in newer “gods.” For some people their “god” is career. Or money. Or status. (9-10)

If we look deeply into our lives and listen to the Spirit of God, we notice that Christ calls us to live lives of love and self-giving, with our only attachments being healthy and related to God’s will in our lives.

At the end of this discourse, Jesus answers that human beings cannot save themselves, for the rich man wants to do something other than severing his disordered attachments. With God, however, are all things possible (Mark 10:26-27). When we submit our self will to God and detach from the disordered things in our lives, we enter into a world of peace and transformation, avoiding the stress, darkness, and grief of the rich man.

May the peace and love of Christ be with you all.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

'Listen to Your Heart': Movie Review

Listen to your Heart, a film directed by Matt Thompson, is a moving piece about following your heart and loving in a self-giving way. Through his character, Danny exhibits signs of self-sacrifice, chaste love, and forgiveness, all attributes that are disappointingly muted in our world. 

I disagree with the writer/director's foray into an alcohol-soaked evening (21st birthday) and the later implied fornication in the hospital room, although these are believable and handled with gentleness. Why is their love chaste until this scene in the hospital? Love, although clearly indicated as true throughout, does not have to result in sex. The hospital love scene could be presented in a more mutually self-giving way that remains chaste. But there are many more poignant points throughout this film that merit watching it. 

I especially like the transformation of Danny's friend (later his brother), who goes from the doubtful, world-seeking voice to a voice of faith and belief in something more than the tangible treasure of the world. Love, as a theme, permeates the film, but it is not just the "eros" love of romance and desire, although that is present between Danny and Sam. It is the "phileo" and "agape" love that we notice in Danny, a love of giving, a love of brotherhood and sisterhood, that makes this film stand strong. Watch this gem of a film; you won't regret it.

The Imitation of Christ: Resting in God

O sweetest, most loving Jesus, grant that I may rest in you above anything created; above all health and beauty, all honor and glory; above all power and dignity, all knowledge and cleverness; above all riches and abilities; above all joy and gladness, above all fame and praise; above all sweetness and consolation; above all hope and promise, above all merit and desire; above all gifts and presents you can give us or pour out upon us; above all happiness and rejoicing that the mind can grasp and feel; finally, above Angels and Archangels and above the whole host of heaven; above everything seen or unseen, above everything that is not you, my God.
~ Thomas á Kempis, The Imitation of Christ (Knox translation), From Book 3, Section 21

Friday, May 20, 2016

Four Ways to Contemplate the Rosary as a Prayer of Peace: 'Rosarium Virginis Mariae' by St. John Paul II

40.  ...The Rosary is also a prayer for peace because of the fruits of charity which it produces. When prayed well in a truly meditative way, the Rosary leads to an encounter with Christ in his mysteries and so cannot fail to draw attention to the face of Christ in others, especially in the most afflicted. 

  1. Contemplate the mystery of the Child of Bethlehem in the joyful mysteries: Desire to welcome, defend and promote life, and shoulder the burdens of suffering children.
  2. Contemplate Christ the Revealer in the mysteries of light:  Bear witness to his “Beatitudes” in daily life.
  3. Contemplate Christ carrying the Cross and Christ Crucified: Act as a “Simon of Cyrene” for our brothers and sisters weighed down by grief and despair.
  4. Contemplate the glory of the Risen Christ or of Mary Queen of Heaven: Yearn to make this world more beautiful, just, and closely conformed to God's plan.
Adapted from Rosarium Virginis Mariae by St. John Paul II

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Imitation of Christ: “On Bearing Injuries and How to tell if you are Really Patient”

1.  Whether your troubles are little or great, try to bear them all with patience.
2. The better disposed you are to accept suffering, the more wisely you are acting.
3.  If he is really patient, he won't mind who makes him suffer. … Whenever things go against him, no matter how often or how gravely, no matter who or what is at the back of it, he takes it all thankfully from the hand of God.
5. Lord, let what seems impossible for me to do by nature becomes possible by your grace.

~ Thomas á Kempis, The Imitation of Christ (Knox translation), From Book 3, Section 19

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Today’s Treasures from 'Amoris Laetitia' (185-197)

Chapter 5: Discerning the Body/The Family
  • Those who approach the Body and Blood of Christ may not wound that same Body by creating scandalous distinctions and divisions among its members. (186)
  • When those who receive it turn a blind eye to the poor and suffering, or consent to various forms of division, contempt and inequality, the Eucharist is received unworthily. On the other hand, families who are properly disposed and receive the Eucharist regularly, reinforce their desire for fraternity, their social consciousness and their commitment to those in need. (186)
  • We must reawaken the collective sense of gratitude, of appreciation, of hospitality, which makes the elderly feel like a living part of the community. (191)
  • Indeed, “how I would like a Church that challenges the throw-away culture by the overflowing joy of a new embrace between young and old!” (191)
  • This larger family should provide love and support to teenage mothers, children without parents, single mothers left to raise children, persons with disabilities needing particular affection and closeness, young people struggling with addiction, the unmarried, separated or widowed who are alone, and the elderly and infirm who lack the support of their children. It should also embrace “even those who have made shipwreck of their lives.” . . . This wider family can  ...  provide wholesome love and family stability in cases when parents prove incapable. (197)

Monday, May 16, 2016

Mark 9:22-24 (NRSV): The Necessity of Faith

Mark 9:22-24 (NRSV): The Necessity of Faith
“But if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Christ can lift us up and create us anew in this world if we act on and develop the gift of faith. There are many incidents in the gospels that point to the necessity of faith in the person receiving Jesus’ healing. Conversion, repentance, forgiveness and healing are all the result of Jesus’ power met with the faith of the repressed. The father in the above story realizes, at the point of his son’s suffering, that he needs the gift of increased faith and cries out, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

In our times of need and moments of doubt are we, too, willing to cry out the same, humbling ourselves in prayer and asking God to increase our faith? The increase doesn't strike us like lightning; it requires cooperation and commitment on our part -- prayer, self-sacrifice, humility, devotional reading of Scripture, community, and loving God and neighbor.  

Please join me in praying that Jesus Christ enter into our hearts, guiding us by his Spirit, to love, give, and be witnesses to him in every moment of our day. And that through the grace of God's love, our faith increase transforming our lives and the lives of those we encounter.

May the peace and love of Christ be with you all.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Today’s Treasures from 'Amoris Laetitia' (165-184) From Chapter 5

From Chapter 5: Love Made Fruitful/Welcoming a New LIfe /The Love of Mother and Father /An Expanding Fruitfulness

  • If a child comes into this world in unwanted circumstances, the parents and other members of the family must do everything possible to accept that child as a gift from God and assume the responsibility of accepting him or her with openness and affection. For “when speaking of children who come into the world, no sacrifice made by adults will be considered too costly or too great, if it means the child never has to feel that he or she is a mistake, or worthless or abandoned to the four winds and the arrogance of man.” (166)
  • Saint John Paul II rightly explained that responsible parenthood does not mean “unlimited procreation or lack of awareness of what is involved in rearing children, but rather the empowerment of couples to use their inviolable liberty wisely and responsibly, taking into account social and demographic realities, as well as their own situation and legitimate desires.” (167)
  • They should ask the Lord to heal and strengthen them to accept their child fully and wholeheartedly. It is important for that child to feel wanted. He or she is not an accessory or a solution to some personal need. A child is a human being of immense worth. (170)
  • For “children are a gift. Each one is unique and irreplaceable… We love our children because they are children, not because they are beautiful, or look or think as we do, or embody our dreams. (170)
  • Don’t let fears, worries, other people’s comments or problems lessen your joy at being God’s means of bringing a new life to the world. (171)
  • Dear mothers: thank you! Thank you for what you are in your family and for what you give to the Church and the world. (174)
  • A father possessed of a clear and serene masculine identity who demonstrates affection and concern for his wife is just as necessary as a caring mother. (175)
  • In our day, the problem no longer seems to be the overbearing presence of the father so much as his absence, his not being there. Fathers are often so caught up in themselves and their work, and at times in their own self-fulfilment, that they neglect their families. (176)
  • Those who accept the challenge of adopting and accepting someone unconditionally and gratuitously become channels of God’s love. For he says, “Even if your mother forgets you, I will not forget you” (Is 49:15). (179)
  • Children, whether natural, adoptive or taken in foster care, are persons in their own right who need to be accepted, loved and cared for, and not just brought into this world. (180)
  • Christian families should never forget that “faith does not remove us from the world, but draws us more deeply into it…” (181)
  • We should remember that Jesus’ own family, so full of grace and wisdom, did not appear unusual or different from others. That is why people found it hard to acknowledge Jesus’ wisdom: “Where did this man get all this? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?” (Mk 6:2- 3). (182)
  • Open and caring families find a place for the poor and build friendships with those less fortunate than themselves. In their efforts to live according to the Gospel, they are mindful of Jesus’ words: “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). (183)
  • By their witness as well as their words, families speak to others of Jesus. They pass on the faith, they arouse a desire for God and they reflect the beauty of the Gospel and its way of life. (184)

Emotional Misgivings: 'The Imitation of Christ' by Thomas a Kempis

1. Often you feel within you the flame of desire, urging you insistently forward; but you ought to consider which motive spurs you the more—my honour, or your own advantage. If it is on my account that you act, you will be perfectly happy, however I make things turn out; if, on the other hand, there is a certain amount of self-interest concealed among your motives, you have something there which you will find a bar and a drag.

2. You must beware, then, of placing over much reliance on any preconceived desire of your own, forgetting to ask my advice. You might regret it later on and come to dislike what at first took your fancy, something you were eager for as being a change for the better. You must not immediately follow the lead of every feeling that you consider good; on the other hand, a feeling that runs counter to your own leanings is not to be rejected out of hand.

~Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ (Book III, 11, 1-2)

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Today’s Treasures from 'Amoris Laetitia' (163-164): On the Transformation of Love

  • There is no guarantee that [married couples] will feel the same way all through life. Yet if a couple can come up with a shared and lasting life project, they can love one another and live as one until death do them part, enjoying an enriching intimacy. The love they pledge is greater than any emotion, feeling or state of mind, although it may include all of these. It is a deeper love, a lifelong decision of the heart. (163)
  • We love the other person for who they are, not simply for their body. Although the body ages, it still expresses that personal identity that first won our heart. Even if others can no longer see the beauty of that identity, a spouse continues to see it with the eyes of love and so his or her affection does not diminish. (164)
  • The marriage bond finds new forms of expression and constantly seeks new ways to grow in strength. These both preserve and strengthen the bond. They call for daily effort. None of this, however, is possible without praying to the Holy Spirit for an outpouring of his grace, his supernatural strength and his spiritual fire, to confirm, direct and transform our love in every new situation. (164)

Pope Francis is accurate and emotionally intelligent here.  Love, when Christ is at its center, is transformative. It takes on new, more applicable maturity as we age and change. I see this in my marriage, thanks be to God. As my wife matures, there are parts of her person and physicality, that I am more attracted to than when we were dating or newly married twenty years ago. And I wholeheartedly agree: “None of this, however, is possible without praying to the Holy Spirit for an outpouring of his grace, his supernatural strength and his spiritual fire” (164). Many marriages end due to the pride and self-serving attitudes of those involved. I know, there are times when I can be this way. Only through grace have I been able to try to be a loving, giving husband and father. I fail in many ways, but God is good and has blessed us all the more.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Today’s Treasures from 'Amoris Laetitia' (145-152): On Emotional, Joyful, and Erotic Love

  • To believe that we are good simply because “we feel good” is a tremendous illusion. There are those who feel themselves capable of great love only because they have a great need for affection, yet they prove incapable of the effort needed to bring happiness to others. They remain caught up in their own needs and desires. (145)
  • Marital love strives to ensure that one’s entire emotional life benefits the family as a whole and stands at the service of its common life. (146)
  • A person can certainly channel his passions in a beautiful and healthy way, increasingly pointing them towards altruism and an integrated self-fulfilment that can only enrich interpersonal relationships in the heart of the family. (148)
  • In no way, then, can we consider the erotic dimension of love simply as a permissible evil or a burden to be tolerated for the good of the family. Rather, it must be seen as gift from God that enriches the relationship of the spouses. (152)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Today’s Treasures from 'Amoris Laetitia' (123-130): Lifelong Sharing/Joy and Beauty

  • If this love is to overcome all trials and remain faithful in the face of everything, it needs the gift of grace to strengthen and elevate it. (124)
  • Marital joy can be experienced even amid sorrow; it involves accepting that marriage is an inevitable mixture of enjoyment and struggles, tensions and repose, pain and relief, satisfactions and longings, annoyances and pleasures, but always on the path of friendship, which inspires married couples to care for one another: “they help and serve each other.” (126)
  • In a consumerist society, the sense of beauty is impoverished and so joy fades. Everything is there to be purchased, possessed or consumed, including people. Tenderness, on the other hand, is a sign of a love free of selfish possessiveness. (127)
  • Loving another person involves the joy of contemplating and appreciating their innate beauty and sacredness, which is greater than my needs. This enables me to seek their good . . . (127)
  • Much hurt and many problems result when we stop looking at one another. (128)
  • Love opens our eyes and enables us to see, beyond all else, the great worth of a human being. (129)
  • This joy, the fruit of fraternal love, is not that of the vain and self-centred, but of lovers who delight in the good of those whom they love, who give freely to them and thus bear good fruit. (129)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Humility as the Key to Spiritual Growth: Thomas a Kempis

The following are highlights that point to many of the roadblocks I have met in my own spiritual growth as a Catholic Christian. May they guide us all to the love of God and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
VII. “On Concealing Grace and Making Humility its Guardian”
1.  … When you receive the grace of divine comfort, it is not a sign of much progress in the spiritual life; you are making progress, though, if you bear the withdrawal of grace with patience, humility and resignation, not flagging in your zeal for prayer nor completely abandoning the other acts of devotion you are in the habit of performing. Do willingly whatever you can, as best you can and as seems best to you; do not give up attending to your soul on account of any dryness or mental torment you may feel.
2.  … Some people, for want of prudence, have brought about their own downfall through the grace of devotion. They wanted to do more than they were able, taking no account of their own littleness, but obeying the urges of their heart rather than what reason judged to be right. Because they presumed to greater things than God wanted them to, they soon lost his grace.
3. If they mean to follow their own ideas rather than trust others of known experience, their end will be imperilled, but only if they refuse to be weaned from their own conceit. People who think themselves wise are rarely humble enough to let others guide them.
4.  … Remain always humble and unimportant in your own eyes … When the flame of devotion has been kindled in your heart, it is a good idea to consider what is going to happen when that light fails.
5. … a man is meritorious when his spiritual life is based on real humility, when he is full of the love of God; when he is always seeking, purely and wholly, the honour of God; when he thinks of himself as good for nothing, really takes a poor view of himself, and is much happier when others look down on him and humiliate him than when they honour him.

~Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ (Book III, vii, 1-5)

Monday, May 9, 2016

1 Corinthians 3:18-19 (GNT): Foolish Wisdom

If any of you think that you are wise by this world's standards, you should become a fool, in order to be really wise. For what this world considers to be wisdom is nonsense in God's sight.

Paul condemns worldly wisdom. And this would have been a tough crowd for the convincing.  After all, it was first century Greece, a society of men puffed-up with their own pride rooted in millennia of philosophy and intellectual elitism.  Paul words, however, remind us of Christ’s teaching in the Gospel of Matthew 18:3-4:
“I assure you that unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven. The greatest in the Kingdom of heaven is the one who humbles himself and becomes like this child.”

Is this truth the same for us? Do we find ourselves convinced that our worldly wisdom and knowledge surpass the vision of God? The answer, however, is eye-opening and one that forces me to examine my worldview and attitude toward living out the Gospel. Paul’s message of humility is as true today as it was 2,000 years ago.  My faith compass needs to be recalibrated towards Christ and not the false conditioning of the world.

May the peace and love of Christ be with you all.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Today’s Treasures from 'Amoris Laetitia' (112-117):

  • [Love] implies limiting judgment, checking the impulse to issue a firm and ruthless condemnation: “Judge not and you will not be judged” (Lk 6:37). (112)
  • Whereas the tongue can be used to “curse those who are made in the likeness of God” (3:9), love cherishes the good name of others, even one’s enemies. (112)
  • Love coexists with imperfection. (113)
  • Love trusts, it sets free, it does not try to control, possess and dominate everything. (115)
  • [Love realizes that] things may not always turn out as we wish, God may well make crooked lines straight and draw some good from the evil we endure in this world.(116)
  • Each person, with all his or her failings, is called to the fullness of life in heaven. There, fully transformed by Christ’s resurrection, every weakness, darkness and infirmity will pass away. There the person’s true being will shine forth in all its goodness and beauty. (117)