Posts Tagged ‘Compassion’

“Learn how to do good”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2015/07/31 at 12:00 AM
When you are with someone, you have to see a soul: a soul who has to be helped, who has to be understood, with whom you have to live in harmony, and who has to be saved. (The Forge, 573)

I like to repeat what the Holy Spirit tells us through the prophet Isaiah, discite benefacere, learn how to do good…

Charity towards our neighbor is an expression of our love of God. Accordingly, when we strive to grow in this virtue, we cannot fix any limits to our growth. The only possible measure for the love of God is to love without measure; on the one hand, because we will never be able to thank him enough for what he has done for us; and on the other, because this is exactly what God’s own love for us, his creatures, is like: it overflows without calculation or limit.

Mercy is more than simply being compassionate. Mercy is the overflow of charity, which brings with it also an overflow of justice. Mercy means keeping one’s heart totally alive, throbbing in a way that is both human and divine, with a love that is strong, self‑sacrificing and generous. (Friends of God, 232)


St. Therese of Lisieux

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/10/03 at 12:00 AM

 This past week the Church celebrated the feast day of one of Her most popular saints: St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Many of us know her as the Little Flower.

 While this cloistered Carmelite lived only a short 24 years on this earth, and all of it in relative obscurity, she is perhaps one of the most well known saints of all time – and certainly one of the most important saints of modern times – and for good reason.

 In her spiritual autobiography called Story of a Soul, St. Thérèse wrote extensively on the virtue of charity and her vocation to be love in the heart of the Church.

 One of the things that the Little Flower teaches us is that the Church has a heart burning with love. This love in the heart of the Church is what moves all of her members to act.

 St. Thérèse opined that, “if love ever became extinct, apostles would not preach the Gospel and martyrs would not shed their blood.”

 And so we, who make up the Church, must keep the virtue of charity burning within us! Charity – love – must be the animating force that impels us as we seek to live out our lives as Christians.

 As St. Paul writes to St. Timothy in our 2nd reading, we must “stir into flame the gift of God,” which is not a “spirit of cowardice, but rather of power and love and self‐control.”

 As many of you know, the month of October is Respect Life month. And as in years past, an ecumenical group within our city is running a 40 Days for Life Campaign, in which people gather to pray at local abortion mills in the hopes of closing them down.

 Last week I went with many of you to the Latrobe abortion mill, and unfortunately there was a very vulgar and hate‐filled woman harassing us as we prayed.

 In those moments when we come face to face with such people, it’s very easy to develop an “us vs. them” mentality. Personally, I often feel great temptations toward anger. But anger is exactly what we need to avoid!

 As I reflect more on Pope Francis’ recent interview, I wonder if this might be part of his point. In his interview the Holy Father gave us this great image of the Church as a “field hospital.” Truly, we cannot tend to the wounds of others if we are angry or hate them.

 Without a doubt we need to work for an end to abortion and other elements of the Culture of Death like same sex unions, contraception, euthanasia, etc. But as we do, we must try to avoid the polemics that lead us to demonize our opponents.

 As we listen to the evil propaganda of the supporters of the Culture of Death or have experiences with people like the hateful woman at the abortion mill, it’s easy to think that we have nothing in common with those with whom we disagree on the issues of life.

 Yet we do have something in common; something very fundamental: we are all sinners. As your pastor, this is something I pray you never lose sight of. All of us are sinners; all of us are in need of God’s mercy.

 Therefore, we must have compassion on our enemies. If we are members of the Church, then we are the doctors and nurses in the spiritual field hospital of the Church. As the Holy Father said, we must try to meet people in their woundedness.

 My experience as a priest has shown me that those who sin by participating in any way in the Culture of Death are often the most wounded people in our society.

 If you contravene the natural ordering of the marital act through sins like same sex relations or contraception, or even more egregiously, if you participate in the sin of abortion, you are sinning in a way that goes against very fundamental aspects of our human nature. At our core, we are ordered toward procreation and life. This is how God created us – and we are fearfully and wonderful made!

 When we sin against procreation or life, we become less human!

 Yet, as awful as the wounds from these sins are, my experience as a priest as also taughtme that these wounds can be healed by God’s grace – most especially the grace wereceive through the Sacraments. So we must do all we can to help people receive grace.

 When people fall into these terrible sins, the Church must be the place they turn to forhelp. She should never be an obstacle to a sinner’s healing. So we must meet people intheir woundedness with honesty and compassion – for both are necessary for healing.

 Meeting people in their woundedness does not mean excusing their sin. Our model fordealing with our fellow sinners is Jesus and His interaction with the adulterous woman.

 Jesus was compassionate and even saved her from her persecutors, but He didn’t fail to tell her to repent. He said to her, “Woman, has no one condemned you? . . . Neither do Icondemn you. But go and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:10‐11)

 This must be the role of the Church in society – and not just the priests and bishops, butall of us! We must all reach out compassionately to those enmeshed in sin, gentlytending to their wounds with the healing balm of charity and the bandages of truth.

 At the same time, we must also be that prophetic voice in the world that fearlessly and courageously speaks the truth about the inherent dignity of man and the grave evils ofthe Culture of Death – all without demonizing those caught up in the Culture of Death.

 In short we must hate the sin with a ferocious tenacity, while loving the sinner with allthe tenderness we can muster.

 Sound difficult? It is, but if our hearts are burning with charity and our minds and willsare intent on doing the will of God, then all things are possible.

 Through the intercession of St. Thérèse and especially of Our Lady, may each of ourhearts be turned into burning furnaces of charity so that we may attend generously to our fellow sinners caught up in the evil snares of the Culture of Death.

06 October 2013

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
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Just like an nurse, God heals our wounds with His hands

In Uncategorized on 2014/09/12 at 12:00 AM

Pope Francis spoke about the mystery of God during his homily at the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta. He said that God challenges Christians by “meddling” in their lives. He added that it’s something that can only be understood by contemplation in prayer.


“The image that comes to my mind is that of a nurse in a hospital who heals our wounds, one at a time. Just like God, who gets involved and meddles in our miseries, He gets close to our wounds and heals them with His hands. And to actually have hands, He became man.” 
Pope Francis also recalled that God did not save humanity by decree, but rather with his own life.
Source: Vatican Radio 
“One man created sin, Francis explained, and one man saved us. God is close, he is close to our history. From the very first moment when he chose our father, Abraham, he walked with His people. And Jesus himself had a craftsman’s job: a worker who uses his hands. The image that comes to mind is that of a nurse in a hospital who heals our wounds, one at a time. Just like God who gets involved, who meddles in our miseries, He gets close to our wounds and heals them with his hands. And to actually have hands, He became man. So God saves us not only by decree: He saves us with tenderness and with caresses. He saves us with His life for us.” 
“Where sins abound, grace abounds. Each of us knows his miseries and knows how they abound. But God’s challenge is to defeat them and heal the wounds as Jesus did with His superabundance of grace and love. Those who are closest to the heart of Jesus are sinners, because He goes to look for them, calls them and heals them, while those who are in good health do not need a doctor: ‘I have come to heal, to save.’” 
“But how can we be wary of a God who is so close, so good, who prefers the sinful heart? This mystery is not easy to understand with intelligence, but with the help of these three words: ‘contemplation, proximity and abundance,’ because God always wins with the superabundance of his grace, with His tenderness, with His wealth of mercy.” 

Prodigal by Fr. Reid

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2012/09/08 at 9:11 AM

• Shortly before he died, the great Dutch artist Rembrandt painted one of his most beautiful works, which is entitled The Return of the Prodigal Son. While the original version of this painting is in St. Petersburg, Russia, we have a copy of it in our confessional, which I encourage you to visit!

• In this painting we can see a young man in tattered clothing and sandals, kneeling before his elderly father, leaning his head into the father’s breast in repentance. And the father, in turn,embraces the son with his age-stiffened hands in an act of sublime mercy.

• This story, of course, is the subject of today’s Gospel. And it’s a marvelous Gospel story, isn’t it? I love this Gospel because it reminds us that there is always hope for the sinner.

• This story tells us clearly that no matter what we’ve done in life, we have a loving Father who will always take us back with compassion. This should give us all great comfort!

• While there are many angles from which we may look at the Gospel, I want to focus today on the aspect of reconciliation and forgiveness that forms the heart of this Gospel story.

• St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that God’s omnipotence – the fact that He is all-powerful – is most perfectly and fully expressed in His mercy. In other words, God’s uses His omnipotence in order to forgive us our sins.

• It’s a powerful thought, is it not? To think that of all the ways that our Lord could manifest His omnipotence, He uses it to forgive us and reconcile us to Himself. We see this symbolized today in the person of the father of the prodigal son.

• Despite the numerous sins committed against him by the son, when he sees his son coming from afar he runs after him; and in that moment sin and mercy meet. And the mercy of the father is so overwhelming that the son can barely finish the confession he has prepared.

• And not only does the father forgive, but he calls the servants to bring him new clothes, sandals, and a ring. He orders the slaughter of the fattened calf and a party ensues, for the father wishes to rejoice in the reconciliation he is now experiencing with his son.

• Brothers and sisters: This is how our God deals with us. This is the God we worship! This is the God we believe in.

• Yet we cannot see in the father simply an image of our Father in heaven; we must also see in him a model for us to follow in forgiving others.

• One of the more difficult parts of life is learning how to handle the hurts and offences that occasionally occur in our dealings with others. Because we humans are flawed and sinful, we often hurt one another: sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally.

• But regardless of whether the people who hurt us mean to do so or not, our duty as Christians is to forgive always. For the true Christian, there can be no conditions on forgiveness.

• We must be willing to forgive, even when the person who hurt us has no remorse or contrition, even when the person who hurt us does not desire our forgiveness.

• Indeed, to harbor grudges and to hold on to past slights is truly a very selfish act that will never do anything for us except make us miserable. Anyone who holds onto a grudge in this life will never be happy and peaceful.

• Rather, we must always seek to be peacemakers, looking for ways to reconcile with those who have hurt us.

• And the reason we must forgive is simple: it’s because God has forgiven us. As St. Paul tells us in the second reading today, God has reconciled us to Himself through Christ. God does not count our trespasses against us but seeks to be reconciled with all of us.

• In turn, we must have the wherewithal to get over our selfish and proud emotions and extend that same mercy to others. For indeed, my brothers and sisters, if we don’t forgive others inthis life, we have no reason to expect that our Lord will forgive us in the next.

• Moreover, when we humble ourselves enough to forgive those who have hurt us, we are freed from the bondage caused by our negative emotions. Forgiveness makes us free. It increases charity within our hearts. And best of all, it makes us more like God.

• Contrast the father in this story with the older son who is holding on to his grudge. Who is happier? Who is more at peace? Who would you rather be?

• But this Gospel today is not simply about the mercy of the father; it is also about the conversion of the son. The son undergoes a powerful change of heart in this parable in order to be reconciled with his father, and we must be willing to do the same.

• Yet keep in mind that conversion always comes at a cost. Pain is always involved because conversion of any kind is a matter of dying to self in some measure.

• It was not easy for the son to change. It was only the terrible misery of his condition that forced him to take the courageous steps to free himself from the slavery into which his sin has cast him

• But like the son, we must be willing to recognize our sinfulness. We must recognize the ways we have hurt others. We must learn to admit our wrongs and failures. We must be willing to ask for forgiveness. And we must be willing to make amends.

• In his misery the son recognizes how he has wronged his father. The son then decides to admit his wrong and ask for forgiveness, and he is willing to become his father’s hired worker in order to make reparation for his sin.

• Likewise, we must be willing to take these difficult steps when we hurt others. While doing these things can be very painful, they are necessary. And we cannot allow our pride get in the way of trying to reconcile with those whom we’ve hurt.

• Like the prodigal son we must humbly acknowledge our wrong-doing and seek reconciliation with those around us.

• But above all, we must seek reconciliation with God and with His Church, as St. Paul encourages us to do. While it’s so very important that we make peace with one another, we must also be willing to reconcile with our Lord through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

• Confession cleanses us from sin; it makes us a new creation, as St. Paul says. Confession reconciles us with God and with His Church. And it helps procure for us the grace to avoid future sins.

• Along with prayer and frequent worthy reception of Holy Communion, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is the best preparation we can make for Heaven.

• My brothers and sisters, is there anyone in this world in need of your forgiveness? Is there anyone against whom you are holding a grudge? If there is anyone in your life who needs forgiveness, then grant it and experience the freedom and peace that forgiveness brings.

• And if there is anyone to whom you owe an apology, then make it. Humble yourself, admit your wrong-doing, and do your best to make amends. Life is too short for us to be at odds with one another, and eternity is too long for us to spend it separated from God.

• So let us all reconcile with one another while we still have time in this life.

• But most importantly, let’s make it a point to reconcile ourselves with our Father in Heaven, and with His Church. And in so doing, let us each become a new creation in Christ.

Copyright 2010 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC

The Many Aspects of the Christian Apostolate

In 07 Observations on 2011/08/28 at 1:11 AM

The apostolate is not something one adds to one’s normal Christian activities.  It is the Christian life itself.  A Christian needs to be many things, but above all, the salt of the earth and the light of the world, consistently giving example with cheerfulness.

Aspect 1:  The Sanctity of Today
God gives Christians the help needed to turn each routine day into a day of value and influence.  Christians can and must manifest Christ, and in doing so, bear great witness to their Christian faith in an exemplary way.  The Holy Spirit, sanctifier of the soul, inspires the desires that prod us to be better.  When the Christian meets the day, he needs to remember that today is the only time he can offer to God.  The past is memory; the future, imagination.  Therefore, he has only the present, and it is only in the present that God gives the grace to cope with whatever happens. Keeping this truth in mind, one can sanctify the day, heeding the many inspirations and graces given throughout the day to cope with its problems. This grace also enables us to concentrate on what we are doing, being faithful to those seemingly insignificant details that can be vivified by grace.

Aspect 2:  Carrying One Another’s Burdens
Our neighbors’ problems must be our problems.  As Christians we cannot be indifferent to anyone.  Friendship with the enriched by grace is powerful.  Friendship is an instrument we can use to reach others, particularly our relatives, friends and co-workers with the love of God.  With our friendship, we can lead others to God by offering encouragement, support and sound advice.  In the New Testament, the paralytic represents all of us whose sins or ignorance keep us from God.  Remember that it was his friends who cared not for human respect but went about the task of removing the roof to help their friend reach Christ, who was waiting for him and who waits today for us.  We must learn to see Christ in our neighbors, to take up His cross by taking up theirs, to minister to Him by ministering to those in need.

We simply cannot make  islands of ourselves.  We should seek to have as many friends as possible and encourage the deepening of those friendships.  It was often through friendship, as we see in the Gospels, that people were brought to Christ.  Andrew through friendship brought Peter to Christ; Phillip brought Nathaniel.

Aspect 3:  The Special Graces of Femininity
Women, in particular, are endowed with special traits given them by their Creator: gentleness, warmth, generosity, love of detail, piety, perseverance, constancy, quickness and, above all, intuition.  Pope John Paul II said:  “Your example of honesty in thought and action, joined to some common prayer, is a lesson for life and an act of worship of singular value.  In this way you bring peace to your homes.  It is thus that you build up the Church.”

Aspect 4:  Collaborating with Grace
St. Thomas Aquinas refers to men as collaborators with God’s grace, the Holy Spirit using them as instruments of that Grace.  We must be good collaborators with God’s grace, for the Holy Spirit uses men and women as an instruments.  The inert tools in the hand of a good craftsman can produce a masterpiece.

Let us ask Christ to give us a good heart, capable of having compassion for the pain of others.  To enable us to bring our suffering friends face to face with Christ and then humbly recede to leave them in the presence of Him, who alone can transform souls.  We must never forget, though, that we cannot do any good nor make Christ known if we are not making a sincere effort to live the teachings of the Gospel.  We must fix our eyes on Jesus, and with our eyes thus fixed we need fear nothing.

Aspect 5:  Listening in Silence
To make our apostolate effective we need to imbibe the doctrine of Jesus Christ which is always relevant and timely, a teaching directed to each one of us personally.  Christ always has something to tell each one of us individually.  In order to hear him, we must have a heart that knows how to listen and is attentive to the things of God.  Blessed Mother Teresa used to say: “God speaks to us in the silence of our hearts.”  His words in the New Testament speak to us; they are always relevant because they are living and eternal.  Blessed John Henry Newman says of Jesus: “He took on a human heart so he could feel.”

Aspect 6:  Viewing Decisions with God’s Eyes
When I make a decision, however large or small, do I keep in mind above all else what it is God wants of me?  We must remember that what God considers important might be very different from what we might decide is important.  Let us follow the example of His mother whose words echo in Scripture: “Be it done according to Thy will” and “Do what He tells you.”  We must meet each day’s challenge with a smile and fulfill our daily tasks regardless of their difficulties.

Aspect 7:  Forgiving Faults
A generous Christian will quickly forget the little irritations that are part of daily life, doing the unpleasant task first, accepting people as they are, ignoring their faults, giving others the benefit of the doubt and, all in all, trying to make life more pleasant for those with whom we are in contact, assisting them to grow closer to Christ by our example.

Aspect 8:  Finding Happiness in Suffering
Happiness can be found in everyday things rather than in flights of fancy and daydreams  And, we know that we will be tested.  Pain of body or mind serves to purify the soul and make it yield a better harvest.  Although suffering is a mystery, through faith we can see the loving and provident hand of God who sees the whole narrative of our lives.  Accepting the suffering, leads us closer to God and produces peace and serenity of mind and soul.  We can find God in everything including challenging situations.  God is always present, often in secret and mysterious ways.  Place your hand in His; He will never abandon you.  And if you do abandon Him, He is always ready with an extended hand to receive the prodigal child.

St. Augustine said with experience that “even our mistakes and wanderings from the right path always end up well, for God arranges absolutely everything to His own advantage.”  St. Paul also tells us “we know that in everything God works for good with those who love him.”  Isaiah reminds us that “no one who works for God with rectitude on intention can work in vain.”

To be instruments of God, we must cherish a life of prayer, of a personal relationship with Christ through prayer.  Prayer is the mainstay of a Christian life and the irreplaceable source of strength for any Christian work or apostolate. The apostolate is the fruit of our love for Christ, and it is only possible if we are united to God through faith, through love and through prayer.