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Posts Tagged ‘Joy’

Gospel of the Annunciation

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2016/03/04 at 12:00 AM

The Pope reflected on the Gospel of this solemnity, the Gospel of the Annunciation.

Benedict XVI began by explaining that the encounter between the angel and Mary, the decisive moment in which God became Man, “was enveloped in a great silence. … That which is truly great often goes unnoticed and calm silence is more fruitful than the frenzy that characterises our cities, and which, in due proportion, was also present in the important cities of those times, such as Jerusalem. All this action prevents us from pausing, allowing ourselves to be calm and listening to the silence in which the Lord makes his discreet voice heard.”

On the day of the Annunciation, Mary was “deep in thought and yet ready to listen to God. There was no obstacle within her, no barrier, nothing that would separate her from God. This is the meaning of her being without original sin. Her relationship with God is free from even the slightest rift; there is no separation, no shadow of selfishness, but rather perfect harmony. Her little human heart was perfectly ‘centred’ in the great heart of God. … Coming here, before this monument to Mary, in the centre of Rome, reminds us first that the voice of God is not recognised amid noise and turmoil; his plan for our life as individuals and as a society are not visible on the surface; we need to descend to a deeper level where the forces at work are not economic or political but moral and spiritual. It is at this deeper level that Mary invites us to enter into harmony with God’s action.”

Secondly, Mary Immaculate teaches us that “the salvation of the world is not the work of man – of science, technology or ideology – but of Grace. … Grace means love in its purity and beauty. It is God Himself as revealed in the salvific narrative of the Bible and fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Mary is called the ‘favoured one’ and this identity recalls to us God’s primacy in our life and in the history of the world. She reminds us that the power of God’s love is stronger than evil, and that it fills the void that selfishness creates in the history of people, families, nations and the world. Such emptiness can become a form of hell, where human life is dragged to its lowest depths and towards emptiness, losing meaning and light. The false remedies the world offers to fill the void … in fact widen the abyss. Only love can save us from falling, but not merely any love. It must have the purity of Grace, which God transforms and renews to fill intoxicated lungs with fresh, clean air and new vital energy. Mary tells us that, however far a man may fall, he never falls beyond the reach of God, who has descended even into hell. However far astray our heart may be led, God is always ‘greater than our heart’. The soft breath of Grace can disperse the darkest clouds, and make life beautiful and rich in meaning even in the most inhumane situations.”

Finally, Mary Immaculate speaks to us of joy, “the true joy that emanates from a heart freed from sin. Sin carries a negative sadness that induces us to close up. Grace brings true joy, which does not depend on possessing things, but is rooted in the innermost, deepest part of the self, and which nothing and no one can take away. Even though some believe that Christianity is an obstacle to joy because they see it as an ensemble of prohibitions and rules, it is essentially a ‘Gospel’, a ‘good tiding’. In fact, Christianity is the proclamation of the victory of Grace over sin, of life over death. Even if it entails sacrifice and a discipline of the mind, heart and behaviour, it is because in man we find the poisonous root of selfishness that causes harm to the self and to others. We must therefore learn to say ‘no’ to the voice of selfishness and ‘yes’ to that of real love. Mary’s joy is complete because in her heart sin casts no shadow. This joy coincides with the presence of Jesus in her life”.

“In this time of Advent”, the Pope concluded, “Mary Immaculate teaches us to listen to the voice of God that speaks to us in silence; to welcome His Grace that frees us from sin and selfishness, so that we may experience true joy”.

VIS 121120

“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

“Struggling for so many years…”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2015/09/11 at 12:00 AM
You don’t feel like doing anything and there is nothing you look forward to. It is like a dark cloud. Showers of sadness fell, and you experienced a strong sensation of being hemmed in. And, to crown it all, a despondency set in, which grew out of a more or less objective fact: you have been struggling for so many years … , and you are still so far behind, so far. All this is necessary, and God has things in hand. In order to attain gaudium cum pace — true peace and joy, we have to add to the conviction of our divine filiation, which fills us with optimism, the acknowledgment of our own personal weakness. (Furrow, 78)

Even in moments when we see our limitations clearly, we can and should look at God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, and realize that we share in God’s own life. There is never reason to look back. The Lord is at our side. We have to be faithful and loyal; we have to face up to our obligations and we will find in Jesus the love and the stimulus we need to understand other people’s faults and overcome our own. In this way even depression — yours, mine, anyone’s — can also be a pillar for the kingdom of Christ.

Let us recognize our infirmity but confess the power of God. The christian life has to be shot through with optimism, joy and the strong conviction that our Lord wishes to make use of us. If we feel part of the Church, if we see ourselves sustained by the rock of Peter and by the action of the Holy Spirit, we will decide to fulfil the little duty of every moment. We will sow a little each day, and the granaries will overflow. (Christ is passing by, 160)

“Serve Our Lord and your fellow men”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2015/08/21 at 12:00 AM
Every activity – be it of great human importance or not – must become for you a means to serve Our Lord and your fellow men. That is the true measure of its importance. (The Forge, 684)

I am not at all stretching the truth when I tell you that Jesus is still looking for a resting‑place in our heart. We have to ask him to forgive our personal blindness and ingratitude. We must ask him to give us the grace never to close the door of our soul on him again.

Our Lord does not disguise the fact that his wholehearted obedience to God’s will calls for renunciation and self‑sacrifice. Love does not claim rights, it seeks to serve. Jesus has led the way. How did he obey? “Unto death, death on a cross.” You have to get out of yourself; you have to complicate your life, losing it for love of God and souls. “So you wanted to live a quiet life. But God wanted otherwise. Two wills exist: your will should be corrected to become identified with God’s will: you must not bend God’s will to suit yours.”

It has made me very happy to see so many souls spend their lives — like you, Lord, “even unto death” — fulfilling what God was asking of them. They have dedicated all their yearnings and their professional work to the service of the Church, for the good of all men.

Let us learn to obey, let us learn to serve. There is no better leadership than wanting to give yourself freely, to be useful to others. When we feel pride swell up within us, making us think we are supermen, the time has come to say “no”. Our only triumph will be the triumph of humility. In this way we will identify ourselves with Christ on the cross — not unwillingly or restlessly or sullenly, but joyfully. For the joy which comes from forgetting ourselves is the best proof of love. (Christ is passing by, 19)

Faith is a gift that begins in our encounter with Jesus

In Uncategorized on 2013/09/19 at 12:00 AM

Faith is a gift that begins in our encounter with Jesus, a real, tangible person and not an intangible essence, ‘mist’ or ‘spray’. Our real encounter with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit was the focus of Pope Francis.

The Pope drew inspiration for his homily from the Gospel of John in which Jesus tells the crowd that “he who believes has eternal life”. He says the passage is an opportunity for us to examine our conscience. He noted that very often people say they generally believe in God.

“But who is this God you believe in?” asked Pope Francis confronting the ‘vapour’ of certain beliefs with the reality of a true faith:

“An ‘all over the place – god, a ‘god-spray’ so to speak, who is a little bit everywhere but who no-one really knows anything about. We believe in God who is Father, who is Son, who is Holy Spirit. We believe in Persons, and when we talk to God we talk to Persons: or I speak with the Father, or I speak with the Son, or I speak with the Holy Spirit. And this is the faith. ”

In the Gospel passage, Jesus also says that no one can come to him “unless drawn by the Father who sent me.” Pope Francis said that these words show that “to go to Jesus, to find Jesus, to know Jesus, is a gift” that God bestows on us.

The Pope said we see an example of this in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, where Christ sends Philip to explain the Old Testament in the light of the Resurrection to an officer of the court of the Queen of Egypt.

That officer – observed Pope Francis – was not a “common man” but a royal treasurer and because of this, “we may think he was a bit attached to the money”, “a careerist.”

Yet, said the Pope, when this individual listens to Philip speak to him of Jesus “he hears that it is good news”, “he feels joy,” to the point of being baptized in the first place they find water: “Those who have faith have eternal life, they have life. But faith is a gift, it is the Father who gifts it. We must continue on this path. But if we travel this path, it is always with our own baggage – because we are all sinners and we all always have things that are wrong. But the Lord will forgive us if we ask for forgiveness, and so we should always press onwards, without being discouraged – but on that path what happened to the royal treasurer will happen to us too”.

Pope Francis, what is described in the Acts of the Apostles, after the officer discovers the faith we also happen to us: “And he went on his way rejoicing” .. “It is the joy of faith, the joy of having encountered Jesus, the joy that only Jesus gives us, the joy that gives peace: not what the world gives, but what gives Jesus. This is our faith. We ask the Lord to help us grow in this faith, this faith that makes us strong, that makes us joyful, this faith that always begins with our encounter with Jesus and always continues throughout our lives in our small daily encounters with Jesus. ”

Vatican Information Service

We Must Live the Faith with a Young Heart

In Uncategorized on 2013/03/27 at 12:00 AM

The pontiff urged the youth to “tell the world that it is good to follow Christ!”

JOY

“Jesus enters Jerusalem. The crowd of disciples accompanies him in festive mood, their garments are stretched out before him, there is talk of the miracles he has accomplished, and loud praises are heard: ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’ (Lk 19:38).“

“Crowds, celebrating, praise, blessing, peace: joy fills the air. Jesus has awakened great hopes, especially in the hearts of the simple, the humble, the poor, the forgotten, those who do not matter in the eyes of the world. He understands human sufferings, he has shown the face of God’s mercy, he has bent down to heal body and soul.”

“This is Jesus. This is his heart that looks upon all of us, who sees our sicknesses, our sins. Jesus’ love is great. And so He enters into Jerusalem with this love and looks upon all of us. It is a beautiful scene, full of light—the light of the Jesus’ love, of his heart—joy, and celebration.”

“At the beginning of Mass, we repeated all this. We waved our palms. We also welcomed Jesus; we too expressed our joy at accompanying him, at knowing him to be close, present in us and among us as a friend, a brother, and also as a King: that is, a shining beacon for our lives. Jesus is God but He lowered himself to walk with us. He is our friend, our brother. He enlightens us along the journey. And thus today we have welcomed him.”

“And this is the first word that I want to tell you: ‘Joy!’ Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy that comes from having many possessions, but it comes from having encountered a Person, Jesus, who is among us. It comes from knowing that with him we are never alone, even at difficult moments, even when our life’s journey comes up against problems and obstacles that seem insurmountable, and there are so many of them! This is the moment when the enemy comes, when the devil, often times dressed as an angel, comes and insidiously tells us his word. Don’t listen to him! Follow Jesus! We accompany, we follow Jesus, but above all we know that he accompanies us and carries us on his shoulders. This is our joy, this is the hope that we must bring to this world of ours. Please don’t let him steal our hope. Don’t let him steal our hope, that hope that Jesus gives us.”

CROSS

“The second word. Why does Jesus enter Jerusalem? Or better: how does Jesus enter Jerusalem? The crowds acclaim him as King. And he does not deny it, he does not tell them to be silent (cf. Lk 19:39-40). But what kind of a King is Jesus? Let us take a look at him: He is riding on a donkey; He is not accompanied by a court; He is not surrounded by an army as a symbol of power. He is received by humble people, simple folk who had the sense to see something more in Jesus; those with a sense of faith that tells them: ‘This is the Saviour. Jesus does not enter the Holy City to receive the honours reserved to earthly kings, to the powerful, to rulers. He enters to be scourged, insulted and abused, as Isaiah foretold in the First Reading (cf. Is 50:6). He enters to receive a crown of thorns, a staff, a purple robe: his kingship becomes an object of derision. He enters to climb Calvary, carrying his burden of wood.”

“And this brings us to the second word: Cross. Jesus enters Jerusalem in order to die on the Cross. And it is here that his kingship shines forth in godly fashion: his royal throne is the wood of the Cross! I think of what Benedict XVI said to the cardinals, ‘You are princes, but of a crucified King.’ That is Jesus’ throne. Jesus takes it upon himself… Why the Cross? Because Jesus takes upon himself the evil, the filth, the sin of the world, including our own sin—all of us—and he cleanses it, he cleanses it with his blood, with the mercy and the love of God. Let us look around: how many wounds are inflicted upon humanity by evil! Wars, violence, economic conflicts that hit the weakest, greed for money, which none of us can take with us, it must be left behind.”

Here the Pope added a personal note: “My grandmother used to tell us children, ‘A shroud has no pockets!’” Then he continued: “Loving money, power, corruption, divisions, crimes against human life and against creation! And also—each of us knows and recognizes—our personal sins: our failures in love and respect towards God, towards our neighbour and towards the whole of creation.”

“Jesus on the Cross feels the whole weight of the evil, and with the force of God’s love he conquers it, he defeats it with his resurrection. This is the good that Jesus’ does for all of us upon his throne of the Cross. Christ’s Cross embraced with love does not lead to sadness, but to joy! It leads to the joy of being saved and of doing a little of what He did that day of his death.”

YOUTH

“Today in this Square, there are many young people: for 28 years Palm Sunday has been World Youth Day! This is our third word: Youth! Dear young people, I saw you in the procession when you entered. I think of you celebrating around Jesus, waving your olive branches. I think of you crying out his name and expressing your joy at being with him! You have an important part in the celebration of faith! You bring us the joy of faith and you tell us that we must live the faith with a young heart,” and here he emphasized, “a young heart, always, even at the age of seventy or eighty, a young heart. With Christ, the heart never grows old!”

“Yet all of us, all of you know very well that the King whom we follow and who accompanies us is very special: he is a King who loves even to the Cross and who teaches us to serve and to love. And you are not ashamed of his Cross! On the contrary, you embrace it, because you have understood that it is in giving ourselves, in giving ourselves and in going outside of ourselves, that we have true joy and through God’s love He has conquered evil. You carry the pilgrim Cross through all the Continents, along the highways of the world! You carry it in response to Jesus’ call: “Go, make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19), which is the theme of World Youth Day this year. You carry it so as to tell everyone that on the Cross Jesus knocked down the wall of enmity that divides people and nations, and he brought reconciliation and peace.”

“Dear friends, I too am setting out on a journey with you today, in the footsteps of Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI. We are already close to the next stage of this great pilgrimage of the Cross. I look forward joyfully to this coming July in Rio de Janeiro! I will see you in that great city in Brazil! Prepare well in your communities—prepare spiritually above all—so that our gathering in Rio may be a sign of faith for the whole world.” Then, in an unscripted exhortation, the Pope called out: “Young persons, you must tell the world that it’s good to follow Jesus, that it’s good to go with Jesus. Jesus’ message is good. It’s good to go outside ourselves to the ends of the earth and of existence to bring Jesus! Three words: Joy, Cross, and Youth.”

“Let us ask the intercession of the Virgin Mary. She teaches us the joy of meeting Christ, the love with which we must look to the foot of the Cross, the enthusiasm of the young heart with which we must follow him during this Holy Week and throughout our lives. May it be so.”

Mary’s Faith in the Light of the Mystery of the Annunciation

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2012/12/21 at 9:11 AM

 In the annunciation the angel greets Mary with the words “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you”. “This greeting is an invitation to rejoice, and announces the end of the sadness of the world in relation to the limits of life, suffering … the darkness of the evil that seems to obscure the light of divine goodness. It is a greeting that marks the beginning of the Gospel, the Good News”, explained the Pope.

The reason for the invitation to rejoice offered to the Virgin is in the second part of the phrase: “The Lord is with you”. In Mary “the anticipation of the definitive coming of God is made tangible; the living God dwells within her”. The expression “full of grace” further clarifies the source of Mary’s joy, which “arises from her communion with God, … from being the dwelling of the Holy Spirit. … Mary is the being who has, in a singular way, opened the door to the Creator, who has placed herself in His hands, without limits” and lives with “care to recognise the signs of God in the journey of His people; she enters into a story of faith and hope in God’s promises, which constitute the very fabric of her existence. … Like Abraham, Mary entrusts herself entirely to the word announced by God’s messenger, and becomes the model and mother of all believers”.

Benedict XVI underlined another important aspect: “the openness of the soul to God and to His action in faith also includes an element of obscurity. The human being’s relationship with God does not eliminate the distance between the Creator and His creature. … But he who, like Mary, opens himself completely to God, reaches acceptance of divine will, even though it is mysterious and often does not correspond to our own wishes. … It is thus for Mary – her faith experiences the joy of the Annunciation, but passes also through the darkness of the crucifixion of the Son, before finally arriving at the light of the Resurrection”.

“This is not different to the journey of faith each of us takes: we encounter moments of light but also periods in which God seems to be absent, his silence weighs heavily in our hearts and his will does not correspond to our own”, commented the Holy Father. “The more we open ourselves to God … like Abraham and like Maria, the more He renders us able, through His presence, to live every moment in life in the peace and certainty of His loyalty and His love. However, this means leaving behind ourselves and our own plans, so that the Word of God might be the guiding light for our thoughts and actions”.

After losing Jesus in the Temple, Mary “must renew that profound faith with which she answered ‘yes’ to the Annunciation. … And Mary’s ‘yes’ to the will of God, to the obedience of faith, is repeated throughout her life up to its most difficult moment, that of the Cross”.

“There is a fundamental attitude that Mary adopts in relation to the events of her life”, explained the Pope. “We see that she ‘treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart’. We might say that she … arranged every single element, every word, every event as part of a greater whole and, comparing and conserving them, recognised that everything originates from God’s will. Mary does not stop at an initial superficial comprehension of what is happening in her life, but rather knows how to observe in depth, allowing herself to be questioned by events, elaborating upon them, discriminating among them, and thus acquiring the comprehension that only faith may guarantee. It is the profound humility of Mary’s obedient faith that welcomes also what she is not able to comprehend in the action of God, allowing God to open her mind and heart.”

“The solemnity of the Birth of the Lord, which we will soon celebrate, invites us to experience the same humility and obedience of faith. The glory of God is not made manifest in the triumph or power of a king, it does not shine from a resplendent palace, but rather finds its dwelling in the womb of a virgin, and reveals itself in the poverty of a child. The omnipotence of God, also in our life, acts with the often silent strength of truth and love. Faith tells us, therefore, that in the end the defenceless power of the Child triumphs over the noise of worldly powers”.

Vatican City, 19 December 2012

Vatican Information Service #121219

“Our Lord wants us to be glad!”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2012/08/22 at 9:11 AM
Acquire the habit of speaking about everyone and about everything they do in a friendly manner, especially when you are speaking of those who labor in God’s service. Whenever that is not possible, keep quiet. Sharp or irritated comment may border on gossip or slander. (Furrow, 902)

Take another look over your life and ask forgiveness for this or that fault which you notice immediately with the eyes of your conscience: for using your tongue badly; for thoughts that revolve continually around yourself; for those critical judgements you made and consented to and which now cause you to worry foolishly, leaving you restless and fretful. Believe me you can be very happy! Our Lord wants us to be glad, to be drunk with joy, stepping out along the same roads of happiness that he himself walked! We only become miserable when we persist in straying off those roads, and take the path of selfishness and sensuality or, much worse, when we take the path of the hypocrites.

The Christian must prove himself to be genuine, truthful and sincere in all that he undertakes. His conduct should reflect a spirit — the spirit of Christ. If anyone in this world has a duty to be consistent with his beliefs it is the Christian, for he has been entrusted with a gift that he must make fruitful, and that gift is the truth which liberates and saves. But Father, you might ask me, how I am to achieve this sincerity of life? Jesus Christ has given his Church all the means necessary. He has shown us how to pray, how to get to know his heavenly Father. He has sent us his spirit, the Great Unknown, who acts within our souls. And he has left us those visible signs of his grace that we call the Sacraments. Use them. Intensify your life of piety. Pray every day. And never refuse to shoulder the sweet burden of Christ’s Cross.

It is Jesus who has invited you to follow him like a good disciple so that you can journey through this earthly life, sowing the peace and joy which the world cannot give. Therefore — and let me emphasize this once more — we have to walk without fear of life and without fear of death, without shrinking at any cost from pain and sorrow which, for a Christian, are always a means of purification and a chance for showing that we really love our fellow men, through the thousand and one circumstances of ordinary life. (Friends of God, 141)

“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’

“Are you sad, my child?

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2012/04/25 at 9:11 AM
Never lose heart if you are an apostle. There is no obstacle that you cannot overcome. Why are you sad? (The Way, 660)

True virtue is not sad or disagreeable, but pleasantly cheerful. (The Way, 657)

If things go well, let us rejoice, blessing God who makes them prosper. And if they go badly? Let us rejoice, blessing God who allows us to share in the sweetness of his Cross. (The Way, 658)

You ask me to suggest a cure for your sadness. I’ll give you a prescription from an expert adviser, the Apostle Saint James: Tristatur aliquis vestrum, are you sad, my son? Oret! Pray! Try it and you will see. (The Way, 663)

Don’t be gloomy. Let your outlook be more ‘ours’,–more christian. (The Way, 664)

‘Laetetur cor quaerentium Dominum. Let the hearts that seek Yahweh rejoice’. There you have light, to help you discover the reasons for your gloominess. (The Way, 666)