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Posts Tagged ‘Neighbor’

“Blessed are those who mourn…”

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2016/08/09 at 12:00 AM

Your neighbor is anyone who has need of you. So, beware of sins of omission for those who mourn particularly those who are not even aware of their loses, but mourn for their loss without even being aware of what ails them. This refers to those we should mourn for because they have not been taught the basics of the faith and now wander in a spiritual wasteland. Or those who have had their beliefs stolen from them by the bad example of others or the rejection of Christian values by modern culture and an atheistic media. Any thing we can do to alleviate those who mourn for whatever reason, we do for God Himself; the object of our charity being Jesus Himself in the person of our neighbor.

If we hurry through life with our needs in first place instead of in second, where they should be, we fail to see the sufferings of others. In order to be compassionate to those who mourn, we must cease to be the center of our own attention; we must forget ourselves and attend to others’ needs. Some who mourn that we might not be aware of include the victims of calumny, defamation and mental persecution.

God often comes to un in unexpected ways, leading us along the path of suffering specifically for our own good. At such times we need to say to ourselves: “If this is your will, Lord, it is mine also.” What we term misfortunes in life (illness, fatigue, pain, financial problems, whatever the source of the evil be) these trials are actually God’s summons to reach out to Him. These calls are for our hearts to detach themselves from ourselves and attache themselves to Christ who visits us at those times with outstretched hands to helps grow interiorly in a union with Him.

Suffering clears the way for grace, for the transforming power of grace to remold our souls as the divine medication of trials rids us of what pollutes our souls. Trials endured with God’s help will result in blessings because it is only through contradictions and obstacles that our souls can be purified. As mourners we cry in our distress to God who views our problems objectively and will come to our aid in a manner suitable to our individual spiritual benefit.

God takes advantage of everyone’s sorrows to bring about good for others. While God permits these trials which purify others, they are for you opportunities for you to be compassionate. Sometimes the destruction the mourners endure are preface to a spiritual revolution; for as they mourn their losses, God re-directs them in unforeseen ways. God ransomed and saves those who mourn, for whatever reason, in ways we cannot image. We must also pray for those who cause evils that they might cease to offend God in our neighbor. Sometimes all we can do for those who mourn is to encourage them to remain steadfast in their trials and give their complete acceptance to God’s permissive will.

Friday is a good day to reflect on the suffering of Christ during His Passion and His suffering today in the thousands of victims of violence, terrorism and the hordes of refugees who mourn the loss of their homeland and way of life. We must ask Our Lady of Sorrows to help us console those who mourn as she would, for she is their mother. We should ask her to strengthen in us the virtue of fortitude to endure our own sufferings. It is at the foot of the Cross that man learns to understand the real nature of the suffering Jesus endured and to unite his suffering to His.

Despite the onslaught of trials, we must remain faithful and prayerful in the supernatural bond of the Communion of the Saints , giving and receiving. As a member of the Mystical Body of Christ, our suffering and those of others are one and the same. Praying for relief and/or endurance for ourselves and others enriches both as we sustain the others and they sustain us in our solidarity of grace.

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“Carry each other’s troubles”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2014/09/05 at 12:00 AM
Our Lord says: ‘I give you a new commandment: Love one another. By this love everyone will know that you are my disciples’. And Saint Paul: ‘Carry each other’s troubles and you fulfill the law of Christ’. I have nothing to add. (The Way, 385)

If we look about us we could find reasons for believing that charity is a phantom virtue. But if we then consider things from a supernatural point of view, we can also see what is the root cause of this sterility: the absence of a continuous and intense, person‑to‑person relationship with Our Lord Jesus Christ, and an ignorance of the work of the Holy Spirit in the soul, whose very first fruit is precisely charity.

In commenting on St Paul’s advice, ‘bear one another’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ’, one of the Fathers of the Church says, ‘By loving Christ we can easily bear the weaknesses of others, including those people whom we do not love as yet because they are lacking in good works.’

This is the direction taken by the path that makes us grow in charity. We would be mistaken were we to believe that we must first engage in humanitarian activities and social works, leaving the love for God to one side. ‘Let us not neglect Christ out of concern for our neighbor’s illness, for we ought to love the sick for the sake of Christ.’

Turn your gaze constantly to Jesus who, without ceasing to be God, humbled himself and took the nature of a slave, in order to serve us. Only by following in his direction will we find ideals that are worthwhile. Love seeks union, identification with the beloved. United to Christ, we will be drawn to imitate his life of dedication, his unlimited love and his sacrifice unto death. Christ brings us face to face with the ultimate choice: either we spend our life in selfish isolation, or we devote ourselves and all our energies to the service of others. (Friends of God, 236)

“Help them unobtrusively”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2012/04/18 at 9:11 AM
The thought of death will help you to grow in the virtue of charity, for it might be that this particular instant in which you are together with one person or another is the last one. They, or you, or I, could be gone at any moment. (Furrow, 895)

You might tell me, ‘Why should I make an effort?’ It is not I who answer you, but St Paul: ‘Christ’s love is urging us ’[1]. A whole lifetime would be little, if it was spent expanding the frontiers of your charity. From the very beginnings of Opus Dei I have repeated tirelessly that cry of Our Lord: ‘By this shall men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another’ [2]. I did this to encourage generous souls to put it into practice in their own lives. This is precisely how we shall be recognized as Christians, if we make charity the starting point of everything we do…

I would like to help you realize that, even after twenty centuries, the Master’s commandment is still as strikingly new as ever. It is, as it were, a letter of introduction proving that one is truly a son of God. Ever since I became a priest I have very often preached that, for so many people alas, this commandment continues to be new, because they have never, or hardly ever, made an effort to put it into practice. It is sad to have to say this, but it is true. Nevertheless the Messiah’s words are quite clear. He stresses, once and for all, ‘by this you will be known, by the love you have for one another!’ This is why I feel I must remind people constantly about these words of Our Lord. St Paul adds, ‘bear one another’s burdens; then you will be fulfilling the law of Christ’ [3]. Think of the amount of time you have wasted, perhaps with the false excuse that you could easily afford it, and yet you have so many brothers, your friends about you, who are overworked! Help them unobtrusively, kindly, with a smile on your lips, in such a way that it will be practically impossible for them to notice what you are doing for them. Thus they will not even be able to express their gratitude, because the discreet refinement of your charity will have made your help pass undetected. (Friends of God, 43-44)

[1] 2 Cor 5:14
[2] John 13:35
[3] Gal 6:2

“Forgiving”

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2012/03/13 at 9:11 AM

The first word our Lord spoke on the cross was a prayer for those who were crucifying him; thus he carried out what Saint Paul wrote: «In the days of his flesh he offered prayer and sacrifice» (Heb 5,7). It is true that those who were crucifying our divine Savior did not know him… for if they had known him they would not have crucified him (1Cor 2,8). Therefore our Lord, seeing the ignorance and weakness of those torturing him, began to make excuses for them and offer this sacrifice to his heavenly Father for them – for prayer is a sacrifice…: «Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do» (Lk 23,34). How great was the flame of love burning in our sweet Savior’s heart, since amidst the strongest of his pains, at the time when the strength of his sufferings seemed to take from him even the ability to pray for himself, he came, through the strength of charity, to forget himself but not those he had created…

By this he wanted to make us understand the love he bore for us, a love that could not be lessened by any kind of suffering, and to teach us, too, what our hearts ought to be with regard to our neighbor…

Now, since this divine Lord had been occupying himself in asking forgiveness for us, it is absolutely certain that his request was granted. For his divine Father honored him too much to refuse him anything he asked.

St. Francis de Sales


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.

“We must also love our enemies”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2011/08/17 at 7:00 AM

We are not good brothers to our fellow men if we are not ready to continue behaving correctly, even when those around us may interpret our actions badly or react in an unpleasant manner. (The Forge, 460)

We grow up as children of God by practicing the new commandment. In the Church we learn to serve and not to be served, and we find we have the strength to love all mankind in a new way, which all will recognize as stemming from the grace of Christ. Our love is not to be confused with sentimentality or mere good fellowship, nor with that somewhat questionable zeal to help others in order to convince ourselves of our superiority. Rather, it means living in peace with our neighbor, venerating the image of God that is found in each and every man and doing all we can to get them in their turn to contemplate that image, so that they may learn how to turn to Christ.

Charity with everyone means, therefore, apostolate with everyone. It means we, on our part, must translate into deeds and truth the great desire of God ‘who wishes all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth’.

If we must also love our enemies (here I mean those who regard us as such, for I do not consider myself an enemy of anyone or of anything) we have all the more reason for loving those who are simply distant from us, those whom we find less attractive, those who seem the opposite of you or me on account of their language, culture or upbringing. (Friends of God, 230)

“Carry each other’s troubles”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2011/07/24 at 11:23 PM

Our Lord says: ‘I give you a new commandment: Love one another. By this love everyone will know that you are my disciples’. And Saint Paul: ‘Carry each other’s troubles and you fulfill the law of Christ’. I have nothing to add. (The Way, 385)

If we look about us we could find reasons for believing that charity is a phantom virtue. But if we then consider things from a supernatural point of view, we can also see what is the root cause of this sterility: the absence of a continuous and intense, person‑to‑person relationship with Our Lord Jesus Christ, and an ignorance of the work of the Holy Spirit in the soul, whose very first fruit is precisely charity.

In commenting on St Paul’s advice, ‘bear one another’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ’, one of the Fathers of the Church says, ‘By loving Christ we can easily bear the weaknesses of others, including those people whom we do not love as yet because they are lacking in good works.’

This is the direction taken by the path that makes us grow in charity. We would be mistaken were we to believe that we must first engage in humanitarian activities and social works, leaving the love for God to one side. ‘Let us not neglect Christ out of concern for our neighbor’s illness, for we ought to love the sick for the sake of Christ.’

Turn your gaze constantly to Jesus who, without ceasing to be God, humbled himself and took the nature of a slave, in order to serve us. Only by following in his direction will we find ideals that are worthwhile. Love seeks union, identification with the beloved. United to Christ, we will be drawn to imitate his life of dedication, his unlimited love and his sacrifice unto death. Christ brings us face to face with the ultimate choice: either we spend our life in selfish isolation, or we devote ourselves and all our energies to the service of others. (Friends of God, 236)

“Learn how to do good”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2011/06/29 at 11:11 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, 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)