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The secret to imbuing the Church with holiness isn’t really that secret at all. Some preliminary ideas I had for my own life included:

  • Cut down on distractions so I have more time for prayer (for me, that meant saying sayonara to Facebook for the time being)
  • Find a regular time for spiritual reading (for me, that’s first thing in the morning, a few chapters of the Bible with my cup of coffee)
  • Anchor the day in prayer. We can’t all spend hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament each day, but we can consecrate our day by saying a prayer in the morning before starting work/school/family responsibilities; pray the Angelus at noon; say grace before meals, and examine our conscience before sleeping.
  • Pray the Rosary. In my case, this means praying it more with my young kids. Sometimes that’s just a decade, but that’s okay.
  • Practice Friday penance. Contrary to common belief, as Catholics we are still asked to give up meat on Friday or choose another penitential practice. What better way to unite our suffering Church to Christ, than to remember His Passion?
  • Almsgiving/charity. I’ve never heard of a saint that isn’t generous. Some of us have more financial means than others to give a lot of money, but we all have something to give. Perhaps it means giving up luxuries to give to others or perhaps we can give in the form of a meal for someone who is sick, clothing for a family in need, or time spent with the sick or lonely.
  • Recommit to Church community. Yes, our Church is broken. She is also the Bride of Christ. How can we draw closer to our Church community? Perhaps you can ask your pastor if there is a ministry that particularly needs assistance. Maybe you can commit to staying after Mass for 15 minutes each week to lend a listening ear to fellow parishioners. We can all definitely (as I recently was reminded at a conference) decide to pray for our priests more than we criticize them.
  • And (saving the best for last) we can increase our participation in the Sacraments. Sunday Mass is not just an obligation, it’s a privilege. If there is a way for you to make it to daily Mass, you won’t regret it. The Sacrament of Penance can be, admittedly, intimidating, but this is what all of us are called to — to humbly recognize our failings and resolve to avoid temptation in the future.

One thing we can know with certainty is that “the gates of hell will not prevail” against the Church, as Christ Himself told us. We may certainly be called to be St. Catherine of Sienas and raise our voices against sin the hierarchical Church. But we are also most definitely called, this year and our entire lives, to unite ourselves with Christ.

Taken from uCatholic website.


Dear reader

Reminding you of God’s gift to us through receiving the Sacraments regularly in our life. We receive food for our souls – Grace which sustains us in our life struggles.

Do you try to include attending Holy Mass and receiving the Sacrament of Confession and Holy Communion, Eucharistic Adoration – regularly – in your weekly timetable?

I must admit it was and still is a daily and weekly reschedule to make sure I do participate in the Life of the Church and receive the Sacraments. Some days I might miss out due to a last minute change in my diary but I try and make up for it the rest of the week. Putting God as your No.1 priority in your life will change your life immensely – for your good, for your peace, for a greater understanding of life, the Holy Spirit will inspire you, Jesus will speak to you directly, comfort you when you need comfort and guidance. This is every single day of your life – we cannot guarantee what tomorrow brings. We need God’s Grace to sustain us for that next moment in our lives when we are faced with a challenge and we won’t know who to turn to for help. Every baptized Christian needs to receive the Sacraments by participating in the Life of Christ and the Church, to help us in this life on earth and prepare us for our eternal home.

Here is a great video clip entitled Power and Grace, produced by Ascension Press, to help you on your way:

 


An extract to share:

Those trifles of all trifles, and vanities of vanities, my one-time mistresses, held me back, plucking at my garment of flesh and murmuring softly: “Are you sending us away?”

And ” From this moment shall we not be with you, now or forever?”

And: ” From this moment shall this or that not be allowed you, now or forever?” What were they suggesting to me, O my God?…

I hesitated to shake them off and leap upwards on the way I was called, for the strong force of habit said to me: “Do you think you can live without them?”

But by this time its voice was growing fainter. In the direction towards which I had already turned my face and was quivering in fear of going, I could see the austere beauty of Continence honorably soliciting me to come to her and not linger, her hands full of multitudes of good examples…

“The Lord their God gave me to them. Why do you rely on yourself and so fail to stand at all? Cast yourself upon Him and do not be afraid; He will not draw back and let you fall. Cast yourself on Him without fear; He will receive you and heal you”…

This disputation within my heart was nothing other than a struggle between myself against myself…

When my most searching scrutiny had drawn up all my vileness from the secret depths of my soul and heaped it in my heart’s sight, a mighty storm rose up in me bringing a mighty rain of tears.

In order to give release to my tears and lamentations, I got up and went out… I flung myself down somehow under a certain fig tree and no longer tried to check my tears, which poured from my eyes in a flood, an acceptable sacrifice to Thee.

And I spoke to you freely: “And thou, O Lord, how long? How long, Lord, will you be angry forever? Remember not our former iniquities.” (Ps 6:4; 78:5)… And I continued my miserable complaining: “How long, how long shall I go on saying tomorrow and again tomorrow? Why not now, why not this very hour?”

And suddenly I heard a voice from some nearby house, a boy’s voice or a girl’s voice, a sort of sing-song repeated again and again: “Take and read, take and read.” I stopped weeping and immediately began to search my mind most carefully as to whether children were accustomed to chant these words in any kind of game, and I could not remember that I had ever heard any such thing.

Damming back my flood of tears I rose up again, interpreting the incident as quite certainly a divine command to open the book of the apostle Paul and read the first passage on which my eyes should fall…

I returned hastily and took up the book and read what I had seen before:

“Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention and envy, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscence,” (Rom 13:13).

I had no wish to read any further, and no need.

For in that instant, with the very ending of the sentence, it was as though a light of utter confidence shone in my heart, and all the darkness of uncertainty vanished away.”


The straying sheep you have not recalled; the lost sheep you have not sought. In one way or another, we go on living between the hands of robbers and the teeth of raging wolves, and in light of these present dangers we ask your prayers. The sheep moreover are insolent. The shepherd seeks out the straying sheep, but because they have wandered away and are lost they say that they are not ours. “Why do you want us? Why do you seek us?” they ask, as if their straying and being lost were not the very reason for our wanting them and seeking them out. “If I am straying,” he says, “if I am lost, why do you want me?” You are straying, that is why I wish to recall you. You have been lost, I wish to find you. “But I wish to stray,” he says: “I wish to be lost.”

So you wish to stray and be lost? How much better that I do not also wish this. Certainly, I dare say, I am unwelcome. But I listen to the Apostle who says: Preach the word; insist upon it, welcome and unwelcome. Welcome to whom? Unwelcome to whom? By all means welcome to those who desire it; unwelcome to those who do not. However unwelcome, I dare to say: “You wish to stray, you wish to be lost; but I do not want this.” For the one whom I fear does not wish this. And should I wish it, consider his words of reproach: The straying sheep you have not recalled; the lost sheep you have not sought. Shall I fear you rather than him? Remember, we must all present ourselves before the judgement seat of Christ.

I shall recall the straying; I shall seek the lost. Whether they wish it or not, I shall do it. And should the brambles of the forests tear at me when I seek them, I shall force myself through all straits; I shall put down all hedges. So far as the God whom I fear grants me the strength, I shall search everywhere. I shall recall the straying; I shall seek after those on the verge of being lost. If you do not want me to suffer, do not stray, do not become lost. It is enough that I lament your straying and loss. No, I fear that in neglecting you, I shall also kill what is strong. Consider the passage that follows: And what was strong you have destroyed. Should I neglect the straying and lost, the strong one will also take delight in straying and in being lost.”


“The people in the parks, the alcoholics, the homeless, they are looking at you. Do not be those who look and do not see. Look and see.” St Teresa of Calcutta


What is the connection between minding our own affairs and growth in prayer? One reason for the advice [of St. Teresa of Avila] is that serious people are likely to be agitated and even shocked at all sorts of things that occur through the typical day. Their inner peace is unsettled, and prayer is hindered. Another reason is that those who meddle in other people’s concerns are likely to make mistakes in their judgment and even to offer misguiding advice. Thus, says Teresa, we ought to let God take care of his own. She observes likewise that pain is often enough caused to the one in whose business we are meddling, but the most pointed reason is that people who are minding others’ affairs are not minding their own. If our mind is free enough to notice what others are doing, it is free enough to carry out what Scripture repeatedly tells us, namely, to keep our eyes always on the Lord, to sing to Him in our hearts always and everywhere. The saint considers distress over the sins and failings of others in everyday life as a demonic temptation. The devil puts it into people’s heads that their meddling really arises from a desire that God be not offended and be better served. They usually focus on the petty faults of which the world is full. A pervasive concern disturbs peace. All the while meddlers consider that they are being virtuous in their preoccupations. Teresa’s conclusion is that ‘the safe path for the soul that practices prayer will be not to bother about anything or anyone and to pay attention to itself and to pleasing God’.

Fr Thomas Dubay, author of The Fire Within


It is by the saints, and not by the mediocre, still less by the great sinners, that the Church is to be judged. It may seem a loading of the dice to demand that any institution be judged solely by its best members, but in this instance it is not. A medicine must be judged not by those who buy it but by those who actually take it. A Church must be judged by those who hear and obey, not by those who half-hear and disobey when obedience is difficult.

By Frank Shead, Theology

By Frank Shead, Theology

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