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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Stay awake, praying at all times

From today's readings (from Universalis):
  ‘Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will be sprung on you suddenly, like a trap. For it will come down on every living man on the face of the earth. Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.’
It came upon me that, in this, Jesus is our ultimate model. Not only because he would frequently go off to pray alone, but because he is the Son of God, and we who are baptized are sons (and daughters) of the Most High. In prayer, I renew my sonship. A son is never alone, for he always has a father, especially in the case of ours: an eternal Father! Thus we pray constantly, being constantly sons of God the almighty! This is expressed at yet another level in the Eucharist, a very intimate prayer where I renew my sonship in an extraordinary way when I receive the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, my eldest brother and the cause for my adoption as a son of God. Therefore, those who hang back from Eucharist, and from prayer, diminish their sonship at each omission -- why would anyone want that? Here is Christ's promise to those who pray at all times: strength to survive all that is going to happen, whatever the calamity, including death and the second coming, and the ability to stand with confidence before the Son of Man -- confidence, not fear of judgment!

So, what are you waiting for? Pray!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Perseverance, by the Grace of God

I'd been riding on a high since menALIVE weekend for more than two weeks now, but of course I'm not quite in a fairy tale, so I haven't yet lived happily ever after. There are still lows with the highs, but I have noticed in me a remarkably positive response to the lows. I recover faster, my perspective now being fairly upbeat and forward-facing. Then it happened: a slight meltdown in the sacristy with my two sons arguing over whether both or only one of them will serve at the altar that day. Oh the horror and the shame! Then Father Cantalamassa (not that one) walks in -- more horror and shame! I was losing my cool, and pretty soon, three boys were arguing, one being myself. Not loudly, but heated nonetheless. I was morose all the way to the consecration, flushed with shame and guilt that I not only failed to resolve it quickly and peacefully with the boys, but that I actually ended up arguing with them. But along with these thoughts came inspirations that kept me sane:

I'm really stewing because of pride, aren't I? Am I supposed to be perfect now? It happens; move on. I am replaying it over and over in my mind, and the scene is growing, not abating, and I'm not resolving anything. I really should have taken them aside to talk this out just among us -- that way, we reduce the tension.

One stunning thought surfaced, too:

This wallowing in shame and self-loathing is no longer who I am. That has already been put to death by Christ. By feeding these deadweights, I am reviving what amounts to an undead, a zombie. Now why would I want to do that?

At that point, I smiled (really!), and I prayed in earnest: thank you, Jesus! So I nailed that event to the cross where it belongs, took up my dignity (not pride), and realized that I was indeed being silly. Pride, self-loathing and defeatism were knocking, and I don't have to let them in. I think I understood something new about faith, then. It needed some mental steps, what separates conviction from taking something for granted. I believe that Christ has already won, that I was already buried and raised with him in baptism. I believe that the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon me. I am not a slave of sin any longer, and I am alive.

Time to act like it.

Whispers in the Loggia: "What, Then, Is Prayer?": For Benin's Young, BenoƮt the Catechist

What, Then, Is Prayer? Pope Benedict invites the young of Benin:
  What, then, is prayer? It is a cry of love directed to God our Father, with the will to imitate Jesus our brother.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Importance of Prayer

The readings are about prayer, I think. Not the text that goes into prayer, but what it really means: relationship:
  2558 "Great is the mystery of the faith!" The Church professes this mystery in the Apostles' Creed (Part One) and celebrates it in the sacramental liturgy (Part Two), so that the life of the faithful may be conformed to Christ in the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father (Part Three). This mystery, then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer. -- from the Catechism of the Catholic Church
In the Gospel reading, Jesus drives out traders and money changers from the Temple because it should be a house of prayer, not a den of thieves. He does this with zeal and intensity. Why was this so important? I think it is because you can't serve two masters. That temple is either truly set apart for right relationship with God or not. But that particular temple in Jerusalem is gone: our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit now, through baptism when He was poured out upon us. We therefore face the same choice: is my body a house of prayer or a den of thieves? What do I surround my heart with? What fills my soul? If we are follow Christ, we must also drive out - with zeal! - whatever does not lead to God. Our souls must be full of prayer, in intimate relationship with God. Fill it with prayer, and you drive out sin. Five minutes, ten, fifteen minutes just being with God in prayer, quiet, contemplative, rejuvenating! And as we mature, we go from milk to meat!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sobering findings on today's sexualization of girls

that every parent should consider.

Of talents, profit and reward

The Gospel today is on the parable of the talents. We're probably all familiar with the fundamental message of using the talents we are given for the Kingdom, but there's a bit more that I realized just today.
When the master finds his two servants having made some profit, he declares "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness."
The reward is not retirement. It is, instead, greater responsibility.
This is additional comfort to those who keenly feel the weight of their responsibilities, apart from what is implicit in the parable itself (emphasis mine): "To one, he gave five talents, to another two, to a third one; each in proportion to his ability. What comfort? That our Father will not lay upon you a burden that you are incapable of bearing, first because He knows us more intimately than we know ourselves, and second because His grace is always sufficient, even and moreso when we feel weak.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Men Alive

is an awesome movement in the Church today. I completed the Men Alive weekend at our parish this weekend and it has awakened, emboldened, enlightened, humbled, encouraged and revived me -- before it is too late! Praise God! One of the things I discovered was that God has been trying to tell me something for such a long time now. In fits and starts, I have been leaving the plow, neglecting and taking it all for granted. Today's first reading is so encouraging (emphasis mine):
  Wisdom is bright, and does not grow dim.
By those who love her she is readily seen,
and found by those who look for her.
Quick to anticipate those who desire her, she makes herself known to them.
Watch for her early and you will have no trouble;
you will find her sitting at your gates.
Even to think about her is understanding fully grown;
be on the alert for her and anxiety will quickly leave you.
She herself walks about looking for those who are worthy of her
and graciously shows herself to them as they go,
in every thought of theirs coming to meet them.
One of my problems is anxiety, and this leads to all sorts of sin on my part, and all sorts of perversions of what should be fruits of the Holy Spirit, e.g., impatience, lack of temperance, sarcasm, etc. The simple answer, I think, is something like this retreat, and the follow-up that I resolved to maintain hence: I need the wisdom of God. I need Christ, like a dry, weary land that is without water. Otherwise, all I have are fits and starts, sputtering to life and trailing off in smoke and a bang. And the great news is that Christ is not in hiding, not hard to get. I just have to be sensible enough, give myself over to prayer consistently, seeking him, and he will be ever willing to meet me and fill me.