Posts Tagged ‘Christian living’

Navigating the Interior Life

In 04 Fr. John McCloskey on 2013/10/03 at 12:00 AM

How many times have you opened a book that promised to change your life, only to become disillusioned by the end of it (or long before!) upon finding that you did not understand it or agree with it or that you simply were not willing to exert the willpower necessary to follow the author’s advice on how to lose weight, improve your memory, speed read, or run for office and become the governor of your state?

The book you now hold in your hands is substantially different, but before I tell you why it might be helpful to share the vantage point from which I offer this observation. By God’s mercy and grace, I am a priest of 30 years and have had the great privilege of providing spiritual direction to souls ranging from a supreme court justice nominee, a United States senator, a prominent radio talk show host, priests and women religious of various orders, and good hardworking lay men and women. From where I stand there is nothing more important than the aggressive pursuit of progress in our relationship with God.

Why? Because death is inevitable. Billions of dollars are spent yearly and endlessly to cure diseases, push back the onset of mortal illness, and–in the case of diehard atheists–attempt to prolong life for thousands of years, anticipating a time when humankind will achieve immortality. Even a former President of the United States said, “I want unlimited scientific discovery and I want unlimited applications. We want to live forever and we are getting there” (William Jefferson Clinton).

But those of us who are sincere practicing Catholics know that our most important work in this life is to prepare ourselves for the next one, where we really will be immortal.

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Fr. George Rutler – Christ in the City III

In 15 Audio on 2012/11/16 at 12:00 AM

Christ in the City, 2006

Host – Fr. George Rutler, S.T.D.

Fr. George Rutler, S.T.D., discusses varied themes relative to finding Christ in daily life, even amongst the bustle of urban living. His topics for reflection include faith, entering the “narrow gate,” the feast of Pentecost, the “high priestly prayer” of Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount, hearing the divine music, and seeing works of art as representations of the holy or divine. Dealing with matters of everyday life, Rutler presents the topics of fanaticism, procrastination and distractions.

Please click on this link to access these programs: : http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/seriessearchprog.asp?seriesID=7088&T1=Rutler

Christ in the City, 2006

1. Pentecost…Fr. Rutler presents the relevance of the Churchʼs feast of Pentecost–the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians today–using metaphors derived from events transpiring within the Upper Room in Jerusalem, Pearl Harbor, Ground Zero in New York, as well as the death of Pope John Paul II and the election of Benedict XVI in Rome.

2.Divine Music…Fr. Rutler speaks of beauty and truth originating with God, who is the perfection of every virtue. Hence light and music are forms of the divine harmony and luminescence. All human creations owe their debt of inspiration to their Creator. It is a revelation to realize that natural gifts come from the supernatural. Hence to listen to the divine music is to hear the voice of God spoken to our consciences or souls. Such an art of quiet listening would be considered a refined art in noisy city life.

3.The High Priestly Prayer…Fr. Rutler uses illustrations from the life of Pope John Paul II, the Titanic and Pearl Harbor to lead into discussion of Christʼs prayer for unity among his Church. Before his impending death, Jesus prayed that believers not necessarily be delivered from the often troubling circumstances of living in the world, but that they be preserved in the truth and kept safe from the evil one.

4. Fanaticism…Fr. Rutler refers to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, as well as the life of John Paul II and the example of the Dead Sea to show the difference between following the truth in a healthy way as opposed to acting out of a blind, unhealthy zeal. Fanatics are marked by a lack of balance, whereas a manʼs life can only be perfectly balanced in God. Christ gave us the sacraments to help us to live out the virtues in a way unaided human disciple could never attain.

5. Sermon on the Mount…Fr. Rutler emphatically states that the Sermon on the Mount was not given by Christ as a lesson in ethics, merely as a philosophical system or code of moral behavior requiring intellectual assent only. This summation of Christianity serves as an announcement that Christ is God, and that as such he wants to give supernatural help to be what God wants us to be. He declares that he was sent to show us the way to heaven, to bid us understand what it means to thirst for righteousness, to hunger for it. He even opens up the way to heaven by dying on the cross for us.

6. Procrastination…Fr. Rutler praises Christʼs attitude of obedience, always knowing where he was going, heading resolutely toward his Passion and resurrection in Jerusalem, and bidding his disciples to follow him on this narrow way to salvation. He encourages his disciples on this way because he knows how easy it is to go astray and to procrastinate, a danger to the soul more persistant and more subtle than a willful denial. As examples of his argument, Rutler cites the prophet Elijah on Mount Carmel, Hank Williams, Sr., Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.

7. Faith…Fr. Rutler makes the point that faith requires admitting that there is a being with a higher intelligence than we have. The beginning of wisdom is to recognize the limitations of our intellect and our need for assistance. An act of faith needs to be made, and then the object of our faith will give us what is good. St. Paul uses the image of the mirror to say that now we see dimly only, as in a reflection, but in the next life, face to face with God. Faith is the beginning and love the end of our perception of God, and God brings the two together so that the mind is no longer isolated.

8. The Narrow Gate…Fr. Rutler makes the clear distinction between the narrow way of Christ and the narrowmindedness of bigotry. People often make a habit of narrowing the circle of those they choose to love and those they exclude. Christ came into the world to help us to see clearly, to focus our attention on him as the very presence of the Divine Love in time and space. To come into his presence is to encounter a narrowness that gives access to all races. This specificity is not one of opinion, but of the precision of truth that anyone, anywhere can accept. Choosing to follow his universal way is the condition by which people can come to sit at table in the kingdom of God.

9. Distractions…Fr. Rutler presents distraction as one of the problems of the modern age. People have the technology to have so much information at their fingertips and so many modes of communication available at all times that they can lose their presence of mind at the given moment, giving way to numerous distractions. Christ provides the answer to this lack of focus, notably in his Transfiguration. The Father is well pleased with Christ because he always does his will. The apostles find direction in as much as they look to Christ. Modern-day examples of being rooted in God include the prayer of GeorgeWashington before the battle of Valley Forge, the Apparitions at Fatima, and the ministry of Pope John Paul II.

10.Works of Art…Fr. Rutler views works of art as representations of higher realities. The works stand for something larger than or beyond themselves; even more than the technical merit of their appearance, their value is determined by what they represent. Such is the case

especially when dealing with sacred art. Artworks connote the presence of an artist, and behind him or her, even the supreme artist, God. The whole universe is his masterpiece, and we are his favorite works of art. Art of the saints beckons us with very holy and eternal glances to contemplate him whose will is that we may rejoice with him forever.

Please click on this site to access programs: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/seriessearchprog.asp?seriesID=7088&T1=Rutler

Fr. George Rutler: Christ in the City II

In 15 Audio on 2012/08/02 at 9:11 AM

Please click on this site to access programshttp://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/seriessearchprog.asp?seriesID=7067&T1=Rutler

Christ in the City, 2005

1.The Perfect Parable: The Prodigal Son…Fr. Rutler examines one of the paradigms of Christian living, the story of the Prodigal Son, which is really the tale of the fathomless mercy of the prodigalʼs Father. The story shows how one is much more grateful for having been forgiven much, like the younger son, as opposed to being forgiven little, like the faithful older son. The mystery of salvation is played out in our hearts, and blessed is the man who appropriates its meaning, taking it to heart and producing the fruition of virtue.

2.The Temptations of Christ in the Wilderness…Fr. Rutler delves into the account of Christ tempted in the wilderness by the devil. He enumerates the principal temptations of humanity as the following: materialism, or satisfying our passions; the happiness that comes through power; and gnosticism, or the seduction to think we can define and control reality.

3. The Transfiguration…Fr. Rutler probes the event of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, revealing how it is a defining manifestation of Christʼs Divinity, which Jesus wanted his disciples to have before his suffering and death. He is glorified, lifted up and clothed in light, speaking with the giver of the Law, Moses, and the greatest prophet, Elijah, to show that he is the fulfillment of all the Jewish people hoped for. When the vision ceases, the disciples only see Jesus. He becomes all they know and all they need to know.

4.The Woman at the Well…Fr. Rutler recalls the encounter had by the Samaritan woman at the Well of Jacob in Sychar. A simple everyday moment proves to be life-changing when it involves a recognition of the divinity of Christ. His revelation to her of everything she ever did moves her to in effect tell the whole town that God knows us all intimately and even has the hairs of our heads counted. A personal God with transformative power in the here and now is what the world needs to come to know.

5. Sermon on the Mount…Fr. Rutler probes the highpoint of the Lordʼs three-year public ministry, the Sermon on the Mount. On the Mount of the Beatitudes, a natural amphitheater in which a person can speak normally and be heard clearly from a great distance, Jesus imparts a code of heavenly ethics for our eternal salvation known as the Beatitudes. Far from espousing a legalistic restriction of freedom, these proverbs counsel life-giving generosity.

6.The Recovery of Truth...Fr. Rutler recounts the finding of the book of the Law by Ezra in the Book of Nehemiah.  The people had not heard such wisdom before, or only vaguely remembered a vestige from a long forgotten past. Ezra restores to the consciousness of the house of Israel the great tradition, which gives life. Though the memory slips, tradition is the way of faith. When we attend the Mass, the priest utters words that are 2,000 years old. Transformation of lives comes through a renewal of the heart. Freedom comes from acknowledging that Christ is the Word sent from God and the darkness of forgetfulness has not overcome it.

7. The Baptism of Jesus…Fr. Rutler shares that the Baptism of Christ is an event calling out for a response in our lives today. With the coming of Christ into the world, the slavery of sin is ended. Our Lord is the source of joy that comes from the washing away of the rebellion that separates us from God–pride or the Original Sin. Fitting as it was, though not strictly necessary, Christ was baptized into his own messiahship. He offers us a happiness far greater than anything the world can give. We must be satisfied with nothing less than that. What satisfies us? He calls us to launch out into the deep and prepare our nets for a catch.

8. The Holy Family…Fr. Rutler relates the blessing of family life lived out to its fullest potential after the example of the Holy Family. With God, nothing in life is wasted, even the hidden quiet times. It is in that silent period, divinely willed, that we see the humility of God. Such mysteries cannot be explained as much as they need to be lived. The family is divinely intended by God. Family becomes the earthly sign of a higher reality. It becomes the witness to the world of the God who made the world, who sustains the world, and who saves the world.

9. Eternal Light…Fr. Rutler witnesses to the necessity of the light of Christ in a world immersed in darkness. Our world has known many blackouts, caused not by a failure of electricity but of a failure of moral vision. It is precisely when the whole sky grows dark, when Jesus is on the cross, that we are able to focus on a light that is not of this world. We are similarly to put a light on a candle-stand so that it gives light to all the house of God. The light of Christ gives life, for wherever there is life, there is no darkness.

Please click on this site to access programshttp://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/seriessearchprog.asp?seriesID=7067&T1=Rutler

Spiritual Nourishment From Msgr. Romano Guardini

In 07 Observations on 2012/06/30 at 9:11 AM

“The more intensely He directs his creative power upon me, the more real I become. The more He gives me of his love, the fuller myself-realization in that love.  Christ is God in the pure, full sense of the word; the Logos through whom all things were created, myself included.  Not until he inhabits me, do I become the being God intended me to be.”

“Just as your soul is the shaper of your body, He is the shaper of your soul and body, the entity, you.”

“What makes a Christian Christian in everything he says and does is the living Christ in him; different in every individual and in every phase of that individual’s life.”

“He lives and grows in each of us, that our faith may increase, our love may be strengthened, our Christianity constantly deepened.”

“For redemption and rebirth do not mean that an individual, as if by a stroke of magic, is renewed overnight, but that the beginning of his renewal is established.  The wickedness is still there, but the new beginning as well.  The Christian is a battlefield on which the struggle constantly rages between the ‘old man,’ rooted in his rebellious self, and ‘the new man,’ born of Christ.”

“To be a follower of Christ does not mean to imitate him, literally, but to express him through the medium of one’s own life.”

“The task of the Christian consists in transposing Christ into the stuff of his own daily existence.”

Guardini, Romano Regnery pp.529-531

“Everything is already there, in Christ”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2011/04/27 at 11:42 AM
You live in the midst of the world and you are just another citizen living in contact with men who say they are good or bad. You must always want to give other people the happiness you enjoy as a Christian. (Furrow, 321)

If we take a look at the course of human history, we will see progress and advances. Science has made man more aware of his power. Technology today controls the world much more than in the past, helping men to reach their dream of a greater level of culture, unity and material well‑being.

Some people are perhaps inclined to tone down this optimism, reminding us that men still suffer from injustice and wars, at times worse than those of the past. They may well be right. But, above and beyond these considerations, I prefer to remember that in the religious sphere man is still man and God is still God. In this sphere the peak of progress has already been reached. And that peak is Christ, alpha and omega, the beginning of all things and their end.

In the spiritual life, there is no new era to come. Everything is already there, in Christ who died and rose again, who lives and stays with us always. But we have to join him through faith, letting his life show forth in ours to such an extent that each Christian is not simply alter Christus: another Christ, but ipse Christus: Christ himself! (Christ is passing by, 104)