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Posts Tagged ‘Hope’

“In God’s name, do not despair”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2016/07/29 at 12:00 AM
The saints are those who struggle right to the end of their lives, who always get up each time they stumble, each time they fall, and courageously embark on their way once more with humility, love and hope. (The Forge, 186)

To make sure that cowardice does not make you betray the confidence God has placed in you, you must avoid the presumption of naively underestimating the difficulties that you will meet in your Christian life.

These difficulties shouldn’t surprise us. As a consequence of our fallen nature, we carry within us a principle of opposition, of resistance to grace. It comes from the wounds inflicted by original sin, and is aggravated by our own personal sins. Therefore we have to strive ever upwards, by means of our everyday tasks, which are both divine and human and always lead to the love of God. In this we must be humble and contrite of heart and we must trust in God’s help, while at the same time devoting our best efforts to those tasks as if everything depended on us.

As we fight this battle, which will last until the day we die, we cannot exclude the possibility that enemies both within and without may attack with violent force. And, as if this burden were not enough, you may at times be assailed by the memory of your own past errors, which may have been very many. I tell you now, in God’s name: don’t despair. Should this happen (it need not happen; nor will it usually happen) then turn it into another motive for uniting yourself more closely to Our Lord, for he has chosen you as his child and he will not abandon you. He has allowed that trial to befall you so that you may love him the more and may discover even more clearly his constant protection and Love.

Take heart, I insist, because Christ, who pardoned us on the Cross, is still offering us his pardon through the Sacrament of Penance. We always ‘have an advocate to plead our cause before the Father: the Just One, Jesus Christ. He, in his own person, is the atonement made for our sins, and not only for ours, but for the sins of the whole world’ [1], so that we may win the Victory. (Friends of God, 214)

[1] 1 John 2:1‑2

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“Renew your joy for the struggle”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2015/09/18 at 12:00 AM
Sometimes you feel that you are beginning to lose heart and that everything is getting on top of you. This kills your good desires, and you can hardly manage to overcome this feeling even by making acts of hope. Never mind: this is a good time to ask God for more grace. Then, go on! Renew your joy for the struggle, even though you might lose the odd skirmish. (Furrow, 77)


There are many who repeat that hackneyed expression ‘while there’s life there’s hope’, as if hope were an excuse for ambling along through life without too many complications or worries on one’s conscience. Or as if it were a pretext for postponing indefinitely the decision to mend one’s ways and the struggle to attain worthwhile goals, particularly the highest goal of all which is to be united with God.

If we follow this view, we will end up confusing hope with comfort. Fundamentally, what is wrong with it is that there is no real desire to achieve anything worthwhile, either spiritual or material. Thus some people’s greatest ambition boils down to avoiding whatever might upset the apparent calm of their mediocre existence. These timid, inhibited, lazy souls, full of subtle forms of selfishness, are content to let the days, the years, go by sine spe nec metu,* without setting themselves demanding targets, nor experiencing the hopes and fears of battle: the important thing for them is to avoid the risk of disappointment and tears. How far one is from obtaining something, if the very wish to possess it has been lost through fear of the demands involved in achieving it! (Friends of God, 206-207) 

* ‘Neither hoping nor fearing

Rejoicing

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/12/19 at 12:00 AM

You will note that, instead of the penitential violet that I’ve been wearing for the past two weeks of Advent, today I am wearing rose. As well, the single rose-colored candle on our Advent wreath is lit.

This is because today is Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is a Latin word that means: “rejoice,” and the color rose symbolizes our rejoicing! In the midst of this season of penance and expectation, today Holy Mother Church calls us to rejoice on this day – for Jesus is near!

Today we use the color rose as a sign of our hope in Christ and the deep and abiding joy that we should have in Him and in His power to save us from our sins.

Throughout the course of Advent, the readings and prayers of Mass help us prepare for our Lord’s coming – both as man in the Incarnation and His second coming, when He will come in glory with all the angels and saints to bring salvation to those who love Him.

Thus, in all of the readings we hear at Mass during Advent there is an undertone of hope. We see this especially today in the first reading from Isaiah in which we are told that our Lord will come with vindication in order to save us.

Isaiah tells us that even nature itself will anticipate the time of the Lord’s coming as the desert and parched land exult, and the steppe rejoices and blooms with abundant flowers.

But more importantly, Isaiah speaks of the miracles that will accompany the coming of the Messiah, namely that “the eyes of the blind [will] be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, [and] the tongue of the mute sing.”

And in our Gospel we hear Jesus refer to this prophesy to confirm that He is indeed this long- awaited Messiah as He sends the message to St. John the Baptist: “the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.”

Just as Jesus fulfilled the Messianic prophesies of Isaiah by His virginal birth and the miracles He worked, it is our firm and confident hope that our Lord will fulfill His promise of salvation when He comes again at the end of time, and that hope leads us to rejoice today.

But the hope we bear today as we await our Lord’s coming is not something that just springs up on its own because we’ve heard these readings.

The mere knowledge of the Savior’s existence and His imminent coming does not engender hope in the hearts of most of us. We must prepare our hard hearts to hope in God by using the spades of fasting, penance, and sacrifice to dig out the stones of sin and indifference.

Truly, how many of us who profess belief in Jesus and in His power to save us remain unmoved in faith or hope by this holy season of Advent or the beauty of Christmas?

Sadly, there are plenty of Christians today who plunge head long into the soul-numbing materialism of this season with very little thought for this season’s true meaning.

Rather than honoring Advent as a season of penance, fasting, and prayer, so many of us treat it as an early celebration of Christmas, feasting and celebrating, and concerning ourselves more with preparing our homes for Christmas rather than preparing our souls for Christ.

This focus on materialism deadens our love for God and makes us indifferent to Him. When we place our hopes on the things of this world or the gifts under our Christmas tree, we quickly begin to believe that we no longer need God. That’s our human nature.

While today and the major feast days of this season are days of feasting and celebration, we must strive nonetheless to maintain some sense of penance and fasting in Advent, some sense of simplicity, because penance and fasting help to engender within our souls the hope that is proper to this season.

Hope, like all virtues, is delicate and fragile as it begins to take root in our souls. Like a
gentle flame that is easily extinguished, hope must be protected from the winds of pessimism,
doubt, and materialism that can lead us to place our trust in something other than God.

In order to stand fast against those things that can extinguish our hope in God, we must
strengthen the virtue of hope within us through the practices of prayer, fasting, and penance.

Whereas prayer helps us to know and love God, fasting and penance help us to find joy inHim. By stripping away other joys in which we might be tempted to take more delight than we do in God, penance and fasting helps us to focus on God as our supreme joy!

Thus, fasting and penance give rise to hope; they prepare our hearts to hope in the Lord.  This is precisely why I asked you to do a little fasting this Advent, especially during the first 9 days of this month as we were praying our novena in preparation for the consecration of our parish to the Immaculate Heart of Mary!

While fasting and penance strengthen our prayers and make them even more acceptable to God, fasting and penance also focus our attention more squarely upon Him! And in focusing on our Lord all the more intently, we come to love and desire Him all the more!

It’s also for this reason that we are counseled by St. James to be patient until the coming of the Lord. Waiting patiently is it’s own form of penance.

But there’s also a certain joy we experience when anticipating the arrival of a loved one. We naturally get excited at the thought of a loved one’s coming, especially if we haven’t seen him for a long time or if he’s coming from a long way away.

Thus, Advent should produce a certain anticipatory joy within our souls as we await the coming of Jesus! But this can only happen fully if we await our Lord in a spirit of fasting and penance, rather than indulging in the joys of Christmas early!

In a sense during Advent the Catholic soul is called to be like an engaged couple, who courageously practicing the virtue of chastity before their marriage, enjoys the expectation of nuptial bliss that marriage will bring.

It takes restraint and discipline not to indulge in the rights of marriage when one is engaged, but doing so creates its own joy of anticipation, and it increases the joy of the wedding night.

Refraining from the joy until the proper time makes the joy all the more enjoyable when that proper time comes! The same is true for Advent!

While some amount of feasting during Advent is appropriate – such as on a day like today – and because it’s nearly impossible in our cultural milieu to avoid parties altogether this time of the year, it’s important for us to maintain a spirit of fasting and penance during Advent.

So in the 10 days that remain before the great feast of Christmas, let us all make it a point to take on some special form of fasting or to make some extra sacrifices in order to better prepare for our Lord’s coming. Let us strive for a little simplicity in our lives!

Let us strive to forget the things of this world and focus our attention solely on our Lord. The great Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross once wrote: “Forget the creature; remember the Creator. Study the interior life, and enjoy love’s summation.” May we heed his advice as a means of preparing for our Lord’s coming.

Let us trust that by our fasting and penances, our hearts will grow in hope, and our souls will be even more fitting places in which our Lord may dwell.

O Mary, Mother of Holy Hope and Virgin Most Powerful, pray for us!
15 December 2013

© Reverend Timothy Reid

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

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

Reason for Hope: Meditations for the Advent Season

In 15 Audio on 2013/12/06 at 12:00 AM

http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=6621&pgnu=1

1.Be Ready!
Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birmingham
advent2010_01.mp3Lord, Watch over your people, who come to you in confidence. Strengthen the hearts of those who hope in You.

Give courage to those who falter because of their failures. Lead them along in this Holy Season of Advent closer to You in Hope by the Power of Your Holy Spirit.

May they one day proclaim Your Saving Acts of Kindness in Your Eternal Kingdom.

Amen.

2.Hope
Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birmingham
advent2010_02.mp3Truly, I have set my soul in silence and peace. As a little child rests in its Mother’s arms, even so my soul. O Israel, hopes in the Lord, both now and forever.

-Psalm 131:2-3

3.Confidence
Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birmingham
advent2010_03.mp3Psalm 27:1-2
The Lord is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?… Thogh an army encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war be waged against me, even then will I trust.

4.In Hope, we were saved
Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birmingham
advent2010_04.mp3In Hope we were saved. But hope is not hope if its object is seen; how is it possible for one to hope what he sees? And hoping for what we cannot see means awaiting it with patient endurance… We know that God makes all things work for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His decree… If God is for us, who can be against us? — Romans 8: 25, 28, 31

5.Trust in God
Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birmingham
advent2010_05.mp3This I know. That God is on my side. When I fear, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise. – Psalm 56:10

6.The Finish Line
Host – The Mo
st Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birminghamadvent2010_06.mp3Philippians 3:12-14

It is not that I have reached it yet, or have already finished my course, but I am racing to grasp the prize, if possible … Brothers, I do not think of myself as having reached the finish line. I give no thought to what lies behind, but push on to what is ahead. My entire attention is on the finish line…

7.Our Exile
Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birmingham
advent2010_07.mp3This life we live right now is an exile; Heaven is our real home.

8.My Father’s House
Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birmingham
advent2010_08.mp3John 14: 1-3 — “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

9.Joys and Hopes
Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birmingham
advent2010_09.mp3Gaudiem et Spes — The joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted, are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anguish of the followers of Christ as well.

10.Heaven
Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birmingham
adven2010_10.mp3Heaven is the state of supreme and definitive hapiness, the goal of the deepest longings of mankind. Eternal Life with God; communion of life and love with the Trinity and all the blessed. — Catechism of the Catholic Church CV. 1023 and Glossary

11.Prayer makes a difference

Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birminghamadvent2010_11.mp3It is You, Oh Lord, Who are my hope, my trust, Oh Lord, since my youth. – My hope has always been in you – As for me, I will always hope and praise you more and more. — Psalm 71:5,14

12.Blessed are the Merciful
Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birmingham
advent2010_12.mp3The Church must consider it one of her principal duties – at every stage of history and especially in our modern age – to proclaim and to intoduce into life the Mystery of mercy, supremely revealed in Jesus Christ.

13.Divine Mercy
Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birmingham
advent2010_13.mp3Let the greatest sinners place their trust in My Mercy. They have the right before others to trust in the abyss of My Mercy. I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My Compassion, but on the contrary, I justify him in My unfathomable and inscrutable Mercy. Before I come as a Just Judge, I first open wide the door of My Mercy. — Divine Mercy in My Soul: The Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

14.Why do we hope?
Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birmingham
advent2010_14.mp3We hope because of Our Lord’s promise of Divine Mercy. The Parables of the Prodigal Son, the Lost Coin and the Lost Sheep of Luke’s Gospel all point to that reality

15.Gaudete Sunday\

Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birminghamadvent2010_15.mp3Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again, rejoice — Galatians 4:4

16.Hope and our contemporary world

Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birminghamadvent2010_16.mp3Seeing so much false security collapse, we realize that what we need most is a trustworthy hope. This is found in Christ alone. If Jesus is present, there is no longer any time that lacks meaning or is empty. If He is present, we may continue to hope, even when others can no longer assure us of any support, even when the present becomes trying. P. Benedcit XVI, December 02, 2009

17.Hope marks humanity’s journey

Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birminghamadvent2010_17.mp3For Christians, Hope is envlivened by a certainty: The Lord is present in the passage of our lives. He accompanies us and one day will also dry our tears. One day, not far off, everything will find its fulfillment in the Kingdom of God; a Kingdom of Justice and Peace.

18.A life of Hope
Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birmingham
advent2010_18.mp3St. Paul in the book of Romans shows us how to allow Christ to enter into our daily struggles. — As children of God, we are heirs of God, heirs with Christ; if only we suffer with Him so as to be glorified with Him.

19.Fear of Death
Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birmingham
advent2010_19.mp3Matthew 25, the Judgement passage points to a basic reality in life: If we want to get ready for death want to be relieved of a fear of death, if we want to obtain Hope in everlasting life, then we can experience that Hope by helping other people.

20.Love
Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birmingham
advent2010_20.mp3Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta quietly witnessed to committed love by her example and her life of prayer

21.The Cenaculo Community
Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birmingham
advent2010_21.mp3Mother Elvira Petrozzi brings about healing from addiction through the Blessed Sacrament, Confession, devotion to Our Lady, hard physical labor and personal discipline. Mother feels that if a person needs to eat three times a day to nourish the body, they also need to pray three times a day to nourish the soul

22.The Saints
Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birmingham
advent2010_22.mp3In the life of each one of us, there are very dear persons to whom we feel particularly close; some are already in God’s arms, others still share with us the journey of life: they are our parents, relatives, educators. They are persons to whom we have done good or from whom we have received good. They are persons we know we can count on. It is important to have travel companions on the journey of our Christian life, a spiritual director, a confessor, persons with whom we can share the experience of faith

23.Guardian Angels
Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birmingham
advent2010_23.mp3In this world, the Angels attend to almost everything as they are the messengers of God and invisible

24.The Holy Eucharist
Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birmingham
advent2010_24.mp3Christ left to His followers a pledge of hope and food for the journey in the sacraments of faith, in which natural elements, the fruits of human cultivation, are changed into His Glorified Body and , as a supper of brotherly communion and a foretaste of the Heavenly Banquet — Gaudiem et Spes

25.John the Baptist
Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birmingham
advent2010_25.mp3John lived in a spirit of penance in anticipation of Our Lord’s coming

26.Simeon and Ana
Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birmingham
a
dvent2010_26.mp3Now though dost dismiss Thy servant, Oh Lord, according to Thy Word in peace, because my eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou didst prepare before the face of all peoples; a light of revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people, Israel

.27.Joseph and Mary, Mother of Hope

Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birminghamadvent2010_27.mp3St. Joseph, thank you for providing for us – Cenaculo Community prayer

28.They shall call Him Emmanuel
Host – The Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birmingham
advent2010_28.mp3The single-most reason for our Hope is the Advent, the coming of Christ into this world as Emmanuel, as “God with us”.

What the Resurrection of Christ Means for Our Lives

In Uncategorized on 2013/04/16 at 6:30 PM

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good day!

 Today I would like to reflect on its meaning for salvation. What does the Resurrection mean for our lives? And why, without it, is our faith in vain? Our faith is based on the death and resurrection of Christ, just like a house built on foundations: if they give in, the whole house collapses.

On the Cross, Jesus offered himself taking sins upon himself our and going down into the abyss of death, and in the Resurrection he defeats them, he removes them and opens up to us the path to be reborn to a new life. St. Peter expresses it briefly at the beginning of his First Letter, as we have heard: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you”(1:3-4).

The Apostle tells us that the Resurrection of Jesus is something new: we are freed from the slavery of sin and become children of God, that we are born to a new life. When does this happen to us? In the Sacrament of Baptism. In ancient times, it was normally received through immersion. Those to be baptized immersed themselves in the large pool within the Baptistery, leaving their clothes, and the bishop or the priest would pour water over their head three times, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Then the baptized would emerge from the pool and put on a new vestment, a white one: they were born to a new life, immersing themselves in the death and resurrection of Christ. They had become children of God. I

In the Letter to the Romans Saint Paul writes: you ” For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father! ‘”(Rom. 8:15). It is the Holy Spirit that we received in baptism that teaches us, leads us to say to God, “Father.” Or rather, Abba Father. This is our God, He is a father to us.

The Holy Spirit produces in us this new status as children of God, and this is the greatest gift we receive from the Paschal Mystery of Jesus. And God treats us as His children, He understands us, forgives us, embraces us, loves us even when we make mistakes . In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah said that even though a mother may forget her child, God never, ever forgets us (cf. 49:15). And this is a beautiful thing, beautiful!

However, this filial relationship with God is not like a treasure to be kept in a corner of our lives. It must grow, it must be nourished every day by hearing the Word of God, prayer, participation in the sacraments, especially the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist and charity. We can live as children! We can live as children! And this is our dignity. So let us behave as true children! This means that each day we must let Christ transform us and make us like Him; it means trying to live as Christians, trying to follow him, even if we see our limitations and our weaknesses.

The temptation to put God to one side, to put ourselves at the center is ever-present and the experience of sin wounds our Christian life, our being children of God. This is why we must have the courage of faith, we must resist being led to the mentality that tells us: “There is no need for God, He is not that important for you”. It is the exact opposite: only by behaving as children of God, without being discouraged by our falls, can we feel loved by Him, our life will be new, inspired by serenity and joy. God is our strength! God is our hope!

Dear brothers and sisters, we must first must firmly have this hope and we must be visible, clear, brilliant signs of hope in world. The Risen Lord is the hope that never fails, that does not disappoint (cf. Rom 5:5). God’s hope never disappoints!. How many times in our life do our hopes vanish, how many times do the expectations that we carry in our heart not come true! The hope of Christians is strong, safe and sound in this land, where God has called us to walk, and is open to eternity, because it is founded on God, who is always faithful.

We should never forget this; God is always faithful! God is always faithful! Be risen with Christ through Baptism, with the gift of faith, to an imperishable inheritance, leads us to increasingly search for the things of God, to think of Him more, to pray more. Christianity is not simply a matter of following commandments; it is about living a new life, being in Christ, thinking and acting like Christ, and being transformed by the love of Christ, it is allowing Him take possession of our lives and change them, transform them, to free them from the darkness of evil and sin.

Dear brothers and sisters, to those who ask us our reasons for the hope that is in us (cf. 1 Pt 3:15), let us point to the Risen Christ. Let us point to Him with the proclamation of the Word, but especially with our resurrected life. Let us show the joy of being children of God, the freedom he gives us to live in Christ, who is true freedom, freedom from the slavery of evil, sin and death! In looking to our heavenly home, we will also have a new light and strength in our commitment and in our daily efforts. It is a precious service that we give to our world, which is often no longer able to lift its gaze upwards, it no longer seems able to lift its gaze towards God.

VIS

Christ Guides the Journey of Humanity

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2013/02/28 at 11:11 AM

The Holy Father   commented on Jesus’ words about the end of time, often considered one of the most difficult texts in the Gospel.

“This difficulty derives from both the content and the language”, explained Benedict XVI. “It describes a future that exceeds our own categories of comprehension, and Jesus therefore uses images and words from the Old Testament, but above all, He introduces a new centre, Himself, the mystery of His person, His death and His resurrection. … It is Jesus Himself who connects present and future; the ancient words of the prophets finally find a point of reference in the Nazarene Messiah: He is the true foundation which, amid the world’s disorder, remains firm and stable”.

“We know that in the Bible the Word of God is the origin of creation. All of creation, starting from the heavenly bodies – the sun, the moon and heavens – obey the Word of God, and exist inasmuch as they are ‘called into being’ by the Word. This creative power of the Divine Word is concentrated in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, and passes through His human words, the true ‘firmament’ that guides man’s thoughts and actions on earth. Therefore, Jesus does not describe the end of the world, and when He uses apocalyptic images, He does not act as a ‘seer’. On the contrary, He wishes to ensure that His disciples in every age remain unmoved by dates and predictions, and gives them instead a more profound understanding, showing them the right path to take, now and in the future, towards eternal life. Everything changes, the Lord reminds us, but the Word of God does not change, and before it each of us is responsible for our own actions. It is on this basis that we will be judged”.

“Natural disasters occur in our times too, as, unfortunately, do wars and violence. We too need a stable foundation for our lives and our hopes, especially in view of the relativism that surrounds us. May the Virgin Mary help us to find this stable centre in the person of Christ and His Word”, the Pope concluded.

VIS 121119

Pope on Twitter…His First Three Answers to Questions

In 07 Observations on 2012/12/14 at 1:00 AM

 

Vatican City, 13 December 2012 (VIS) – @Pontifex, Pope Benedict XVI’s Twitter account, attracted over a million and a half followers on its first day of existence. The Pope, after his first tweet at the end of the usual Wednesday general audience, responded during the course of the day to three questions posed by members of the public from three different continents.

The first was: “How can we celebrate the Year of Faith better in our daily lives?”.

The Holy Father’s answer was “By speaking with Jesus in prayer, listening to what he tells you in the Gospel and looking for him in those in need”.

Shortly afterwards a second question was added:

“How can faith in Jesus be lived in a world without hope?”.

“We can be certain that a believer is never alone. God is the solid rock upon which we build our lives and his love is always faithful”,

responded Benedict XVI.

The final tweet, posted around 6 p.m., was:

“Offer everything you do to the Lord, ask his help in all the circumstances of daily life and remember that he is always beside you”,

in response to: “Any suggestions on how to be more prayerful when we are so busy with the demands of work, families and the world?”

Vatican Information Service 121213

Pope Benedict XVI hit the 1 million Twitter follower mark on Wednesday.  The 85 year old  pope is tweeting simultaneously in Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, German, Polish and Arabic. The words the Pope uses are his alone, culled from his speeches, homilies or catechism lessons. For English version, please go to www.twitter.com/pontifex

The Pope blessed his online fans and urged them to listen to Christ.

“It is a time of hope, and I live off this treasure”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2012/06/27 at 9:11 AM
“It is a time of hope, and I live off this treasure. It is not just a phrase, Father,” you tell me, “it is reality.” Well then …, bring the whole world, all the human values which attract you so very strongly – friendship, the arts, science, philosophy, theology, sport, nature, culture, souls – bring all of this within that hope: the hope of Christ. (Furrow, 293)

Wherever we may be, Our Lord urges us to be vigilant. His plea should lead us to hope more strongly in our desires for holiness and to translate them into deeds. ‘Give me your heart, my son’ [1], he seems to whisper in our ear. Stop building castles in the air. Make up your mind to open your soul to God, for only in Our Lord will you find a real basis for your hope and for doing good to others. If we don’t fight against ourselves; if we don’t rebuff once and for all the enemies lodged within our interior fortress — pride, envy, the concupiscence of the flesh and of the eyes, self‑sufficiency, and the wild craving for licentiousness; if we abandon this inner struggle, our noblest ideals will wither ‘like the bloom on the grass; and when the scorching sun comes up the grass withers, and the bloom falls, and all its fair show dies away’. Then, all you need is a tiny crevice and discouragement and gloom will creep in, like encroaching poisonous weeds.

Jesus is not satisfied with a wavering assent. He expects, and has a right to expect, that we advance resolutely, unyielding in the face of difficulties. He demands that we take firm, specific steps; because, as a rule, general resolutions are just fallacious illusions, created to silence the divine call which sounds within our hearts. They produce a futile flame that neither burns nor gives warmth, but dies out as suddenly as it began.

You will convince me that you sincerely want to achieve your goals when I see you go forward unwaveringly. Do good and keep reviewing your basic attitudes to the jobs that occupy you each moment. Practice the virtue of justice, right where you are, in your normal surroundings, even though you may end up exhausted. Foster happiness among those around you by cheerfully serving the people you work with and by striving to carry out your job as perfectly as you can, showing understanding, smiling, having a Christian approach to life. And do everything for God, thinking of his glory, with your sights set high and longing for the definitive homeland, because there is no other goal worthwhile. (Friends of God, 211)

[1] Prov 23:26

Utopia by Fr. Reid

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2012/06/09 at 9:11 AM

 

• In my home state of Indiana there is a little town in the very southwest corner of the state called New Harmony. It is a town that was founded in the 19th century as a utopian village.

• In the 19th century there was a movement in our country to set up small, self-contained societies that were free of the problems endemic to large cities – problems like crime, and the influences of a general lack of morality. New Harmony was one of these places.

• These utopian villages were supposed to be the perfect place to live….a sort of heaven on earth. Ultimately, this movement failed. Why?

• In simplest terms the failure was the result of sin, and the fact that man suffers from original sin: that he is disposed, in his weak nature, to sin – even when he desires not to sin. And this propensity to sin is, perhaps, the greatest sadness of human life.

• In our first reading today Job paints a rather bleak picture of life when he speaks of it as drudgery and without happiness. To me he calls to mind the words of the philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who famously said that “life is nasty, brutish, and short.”

• Hobbes was a philosopher who had a tendency to focus on only the ugly sides of life and humanity. In the face of human sin and suffering, he only found despair.

• And despair, my friends, is a sin. In fact, it’s one of the most debilitating sins of all.

• To be sure, all of us have moments when, because of our sin and suffering, it’s difficult to see that which is true, good, and beautiful.

• Anyone who has ever experienced tremendous, on-going suffering in this life knows the temptation to despair. Anyone who has struggled over and over with the same grave sins that seemingly cannot be conquered has felt despair rising in his heart.

• Yet as Christians, we must never allow despair to have a voice within our hearts and souls,for it directly contradicts the primary disposition of joy to which we, as Christians, are supernaturally called. Joy is our vocation as Christians, and it is the promise of the Spirit.

• Even in the face of our deepest and darkest sins – those sins that we hide deep down in our souls and that we confess only with a sly honesty – we must remain joyful.

• You see, my friends, while sin is a terrible and debilitating illness, it is treatable! Even the gravest of sinners is never without hope. And as Christians, this is a truth to which we must cling with tenacity! It’s something that we must believe in our very bones.

• Our gospel story today provides a wonderful contrast to the bleakness of the first reading. In today’s story we see Jesus heal Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, as well as many other who were sick or possessed.

• At the end of the story, when Jesus finally finds some time alone to pray, his disciples come looking for Him and say: “Everyone is looking for you”, to which Jesus replies: “Let us go …For this purpose have I come.”

• And off He goes to preach and to heal and to drive out demons in other towns and villages.

• This is why Jesus came to us: to save us from our sins and to heal us from our spiritual infirmities. Jesus came that we might have life, and have it in abundance!

• While Jesus is not here among us in the same way as He was with His apostles 2000 years ago, He is still here among us.

• Jesus is present to us in the Eucharist. He speaks to us through His Word. And He lives in our souls, along with the Father and Holy Spirit, through the grace of baptism!

• The more that we pay attention to Jesus and seek to be in communion with Him through prayer, the sacraments, and virtuous living, the stronger His presence within us becomes – and the stronger we become to say no to the temptations that plague us.

• However, there is one caveat – one little hitch, if you will. For our communion with Jesus to be authentic and for our strength against temptation to grow, we must recognize our sins for what they are and be honest about them, and we must be willing to let go of them.

• In our Catholic tradition we identify seven deadly sins: pride, greed, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, and sloth. Each of us typically struggles in a particular way with one or two of these sins. These are our root sins; they are the sins we commit most often throughout life.

• It’s important that we try to recognize our root sins and their many manifestations in our lives, so that we can present them to Jesus and ask for His help.

• It’s important that we examine our souls regularly for sin, and the measure we should use inexamining ourselves is Sacred Scripture and the constant teaching tradition of the Church.

• Whenever we find that we are living in a way that goes against the teachings of Christ as found in Sacred Scripture or Church teaching, we must quickly seek to amend our lives.

• Some of you may ask, “Well, what if I disagree with Church teaching, or what if I think the Church is wrong or unfair about something?”

• If that is your position, then as your pastor I have to ask you with great love and respect: do you really want to risk your soul on the idea that you may know something that the Church doesn’t?”

• Please understand, my friends, that the Church was founded by Christ and has been entrusted with His teachings. Moreover, for her 2000 years of existence she has been guided by the Holy Spirit so that in matters of faith and morals she would never err.

• Now I realize that at times the Church’s teachings can seem hard to follow. I also realize that there are people who consider some of the Church’s teachings controversial or outdated – especially her teachings that concern conjugal acts.

• But, my dear friends, Truth never changes – and therefore it can never be outdated. Do not allow yourselves to be seduced by the dictatorship of relativism that pervades our society!

• My point, of course, is that the morally safest way to live is in accord with Church teaching, which we Catholics believe to be the teaching of Christ Himself.

• Jesus came to heal us and set us free, but we have to be willing to repudiate our sins. He will never forcibly take them away from us. If we seek to be free of our sins, then we can grow in the authentic communion with Jesus by which we will be strengthened against temptation.

• Moreover, the more we grow in communion with Jesus, the more we grow in joy, even in the midst of terrible suffering. Every saint whom the Church has ever canonized attests to this.

• And as we grow in joy, even in the face of suffering, and as we begin to enjoy the freedom of the sons and daughters of God, it is then that we begin to experience Heaven itself.

• For Heaven is not a place – a physical location up in the sky. Heaven is a person: the person in Whom God and man are joined: Jesus Christ!

• My dear friends in Christ, while it is true that any purely human effort to establish a utopian or heavenly society will ultimately fail, we can begin to experience the joy of Heaven here on earth. In fact, as Christians we are called to it.

• If we renounce our sins and seek to live in authentic communion with Jesus through a life of prayer, fidelity to the sacraments, and virtuous acts, we will begin to experience Heaven in this life, and be assured of experiencing the fullness of Heaven in the next.

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

“Renew your joy for the struggle”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2012/05/09 at 9:11 AM
Sometimes you feel that you are beginning to lose heart and that everything is getting on top of you. This kills your good desires, and you can hardly manage to overcome this feeling even by making acts of hope. Never mind: this is a good time to ask God for more grace. Then, go on! Renew your joy for the struggle, even though you might lose the odd skirmish. (Furrow, 77)

There are many who repeat that hackneyed expression ‘while there’s life there’s hope’, as if hope were an excuse for ambling along through life without too many complications or worries on one’s conscience. Or as if it were a pretext for postponing indefinitely the decision to mend one’s ways and the struggle to attain worthwhile goals, particularly the highest goal of all which is to be united with God.

If we follow this view, we will end up confusing hope with comfort. Fundamentally, what is wrong with it is that there is no real desire to achieve anything worthwhile, either spiritual or material. Thus some people’s greatest ambition boils down to avoiding whatever might upset the apparent calm of their mediocre existence. These timid, inhibited, lazy souls, full of subtle forms of selfishness, are content to let the days, the years, go by sine spe nec metu,* without setting themselves demanding targets, nor experiencing the hopes and fears of battle: the important thing for them is to avoid the risk of disappointment and tears. How far one is from obtaining something, if the very wish to possess it has been lost through fear of the demands involved in achieving it! (Friends of God, 206-207)

* ‘Neither hoping nor fearing’