Posts Tagged ‘Trust’

More Christian Persecuted Than in the First Centuries

In Uncategorized on 2014/06/23 at 12:00 AM

The Holy Father commented on Jesus’ discourse in Jerusalem about the end of time. Jesus exhorted the apostles not to be deceived by false messiahs and not to be paralysed by fear, but rather to live this moment of waiting in hope, as a time of witness and perseverance.

The Holy Father emphasised the relevance of these words even to us now in the twenty-first century. “It is a call to discernment”, he said. “Even nowadays, in fact, there are false ‘saviours’ who seek to take Jesus’ place: leaders of this world, gurus, holy men, people who want to attract hearts and minds, especially of young people. Jesus warns us: ‘do not follow them’. And the Lord also helps us not to be afraid when faced with wars and revolutions, natural disasters and epidemics: Jesus liberates us from fatalism and false apocalyptic visions. … He reminds us that we are entirely in God’s hands! The adversity we encounter on account of our faith and our adhesion to the Gospel are opportunities for witness; they should not turn us away from the Lord but rather encourage us to abandon ourselves more fully to Him, to the strength of His Spirit and His grace”.

“In this moment”, he continued, unscripted, “let us think of the many Christian brothers and sisters who suffer persecution for their faith. There are many of them. Perhaps more than in the first centuries. Jesus is with them. Let us also be united with them by our prayer and our affection. Let us admire their courage and their witness. They are our brothers and sisters, who in many parts of the world suffer for being faithful to Jesus Christ. Let us extend our heartfelt and affectionate greetings to them”.

Francis highlighted Jesus’ promise to us as a guarantee of victory: “’Stand firm, and you will win life’. … This is a call to hope and patience, to know how to await the certain fruits of salvation, trusting in the deep meaning of life and history; the trials and difficulties form part of a greater design, and the Lord, the master of history, guides all to its fulfilment. Despite the disorder and catastrophes that afflict the world, God’s plan of goodness and mercy will prevail”.

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“You will never love enough”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2014/06/23 at 12:00 AM
No matter how much you may love, you will never love enough. The human heart is endowed with an enormous coefficient of expansion. When it loves, it opens out in a crescendo of affection that overcomes all barriers. If you love Our Lord, there will not be a single creature that does not find a place in your heart. (Way of the Cross, 8th Station, 5)

Let us now consider the Master and his disciples gathered together in the intimacy of the Upper Room. The time of his Passion is drawing close and he is surrounded by those he loves. The fire in the Heart of Christ bursts into flame in a way no words can express and he confides in them, ‘I give you a new commandment that you love one another, just as I have loved you, you also must love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

Lord, why do you call it a new commandment? As we have just heard, it was already laid down in the Old Testament that we should love our neighbour. You will remember also that, when Jesus had scarcely begun his public life, he broadened the scope of this law with divine generosity: ‘You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I tell you, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who persecute and slander you.’

But, Lord, please allow us to insist. Why do you still call this precept new? That night, just a few hours before offering yourself in sacrifice on the Cross, during your intimate conversation with the men who — in spite of being weak and wretched, like ourselves — accompanied you to Jerusalem, you revealed to us the standard for our charity, one we could never have suspected: ‘as I have loved you’. How well the apostles must have understood you, having witnessed for themselves your unbounded love.

If we profess the same faith and are really eager to follow in the clear footprints left by Christ when he walked on this earth, we cannot be content merely with avoiding doing unto others the evil that we would not have them do unto us. That is a lot, but it is still very little when we consider that our love is to be measured in terms of Jesus’ own conduct. Besides, he does not give us this standard as a distant target, as a crowning point of a whole lifetime of struggle. It is — it ought to be, I repeat so that you may turn it into specific resolutions — the starting point, for Our Lord presents it as a sign of Christianity: ‘By this shall all men know that you are my disciples.’ (Friends of God, 222-223)

“Mary teaches us to have charity”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2014/05/23 at 12:00 AM
In the hour of rejection at the Cross, the Virgin Mary is there by her Son, willing to go through the same fate. Let us lose our fear of behaving like responsible Christians when the environment in which we move is not easy. She will help us. (Furrow, 977)

What a contrast between Our Lady’s hope and our own impatience! So often we call upon God to reward us at once for any little good we have done. No sooner does the first difficulty appear than we start to complain. Often we are incapable of sustaining our efforts, of keeping our hope alive. Why? Because we lack faith. ‘Blessed art thou for thy believing; the message that was brought to thee from the Lord shall have fulfillment.’

She teaches us to have charity. Remember the scene of the presentation of Jesus in the temple. An old man, Simeon, ‘said to his mother Mary, Behold, this child is destined to bring about the fall of many and the rise of many in Israel; and to be a sign which men will refuse to acknowledge; and so the thoughts of many hearts shall be made manifest; as for your own soul, it shall have a sword to pierce it.’ So great is Mary’s love for all mankind that she, too, fulfilled Christ’s words when he affirmed: ‘Greater love has no man than this, that he should lay down his life for his friends.’ (Friends of God, 286)

“With Mary, how easy it is!”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2014/05/16 at 12:00 AM
Before, by yourself, you couldn’t. Now, you have turned to our Lady, and, with her, how easy it is! (The Way, 513)

Children, especially when they are small, give very little thought to what they should do for their parents and are much more concerned about what they hope to get from them. As children, we tend to be very self‑interested, although our mothers, as we have already mentioned, do not seem to mind really, because they have so much love in their hearts and they love with the best kind of affection: that which gives without expecting anything in return.

The same is true of Mary… If we find there have been times when we failed to be gentle and kind towards this good Mother of ours, we should feel sorry. I ask you now, as I ask myself, how are we honouring her?

Let us return once again to our everyday experience and see how we behave with our earthly mothers. What does a mother want most of all from her children, from those who are flesh of her flesh and blood of her blood? Her greatest desire is to have them close to her. When the children grow up and it is no longer possible to have them beside her, she waits impatiently for news from them, and everything that happens to them, from the slightest illness to the most important events, concerns her deeply.

Look: in the eyes of our Mother Mary we never cease to be little, because she opens to us the way to the Kingdom of Heaven, which will only be given to those who become little children. We should never separate ourselves from Our Lady. How should we honour her? By keeping close to her, talking to her, showing her that we love her, pondering in our hearts the scenes of her life on earth and telling her about our struggles, successes and failures. (Friends of God, 289-290)

“Mary’s throne is the Cross”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2014/05/02 at 12:00 AM
Marvel at Mary’s courage: at the foot of the Cross, with the greatest of human sorrows–there is no sorrow like her sorrow–filled with fortitude. And ask her for that same strength, so that you too can remain beside the Cross. (The Way, 508)

Mary’s throne, like that of her Son, is the Cross. During the rest of her life, until she was taken body and soul into Heaven, what most impresses us about her is her quiet presence. St Luke, who knew her well, describes her as being close to the first disciples, in prayer. This was the way she lived to the end of her days on earth, she who was to be praised by all creatures for all eternity.

What a contrast between Our Lady’s hope and our own impatience! So often we call upon God to reward us at once for any little good we have done. No sooner does the first difficulty appear than we start to complain. Often we are incapable of sustaining our efforts, of keeping our hope alive. Why? Because we lack faith. ‘Blessed art thou for thy believing; the message that was brought to thee from the Lord shall have fulfillment.’ (Friends of God, 286

“You have him always at your side”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2013/07/05 at 12:00 AM
How wonderfully effective the Holy Eucharist is in the actions, and even before that in the souls, of those who receive it frequently and piously. (The Forge, 303)

If all those people became so enthusiastic and were ready to acclaim you over a piece of bread, even granting that the multiplication of loaves was a very great miracle, shouldn’t we be doing much more for all the many gifts you have granted us, and especially for giving us your very self unreservedly in the Eucharist? (The Forge, 304)

Good child: see how lovers on earth kiss the flowers, the letters, the mementos of those they love|… Then you, how could you ever forget that you have him always at your side ‑‑ yes,Him? How could you forget|… that you can eat him? (The Forge, 305)

Put your head frequently round the oratory door to say to Jesus: I abandon myself into your arms. Leave everything you have ‑‑ your wretchedness ‑‑ at his feet. In this way, in spite of the welter of things you carry along behind you, you will never lose your peace. (The Forge, 306)

Man is a Seeker of the Absolute

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

Benedict XVI, continuing a series of catecheses on the subject of Catholic faith, focused on what, he said, “is a fascinating aspect of human and Christian experience: the fact that man carries within him a mysterious desire for God”.

Such an affirmation, the Pope went on, “may seem provocative in the context of secularised Western culture. Many of our contemporaries could, in fact, object that they feel not the slightest desire for God. For large sectors of society He is no longer awaited or desired; rather He leaves people indifferent, something about which they do not even have to make an effort to express themselves.

“Yet the fact is that what we have defined as ‘desire for God’ has not completely disappeared and still today it emerges in man’s heart in many different ways. Human desire always tends towards certain concrete things which are often anything but spiritual, yet it nonetheless has to consider the question of what good truly is, and this means facing something other than itself, something man cannot construct but is called to recognise. What is it that can truly satisfy man’s desire?

“In my first Encyclical ‘Deus caritas est’ I sought to examine how this phenomenon is realised in the experience of human love, which in our time is most easily recognised as a moment of ecstasy and abandonment, a place in which man has the experience of being overcome by a desire greater than himself. Through love a man and a woman, the one thanks to the other, enjoy a new experience of the greatness and beauty of life and reality. If what I experience is not a mere illusion, if I truly wish the other’s good, also as a way to my own good, then I must be ready not to focus on my own self, to place myself at the service of the other, even to the point of self-renouncement. Thus the answer to the question about the meaning of the experience of love involves the purification and healing of desire, which is a requirement of the love we bear the other.

“We must exercise, train and correct ourselves so that we can truly love others”, Pope Benedict added. Yet “not even the beloved is capable of satisfying the desire that dwells in the human heart. Quite the contrary, the more authentic our love for another person is, the more it raises the question about the origin and destiny of that love, the possibility that it may last forever”.

“Similar considerations could also be made about other human experiences such as friendship, the experience of beauty or love of knowledge. Everything good that man experiences tends towards the mystery which surrounds man himself. Each desire that arises in the human heart is an echo of a fundamental desire which is never fully sated”.

The Holy Father went on: “Man is well aware of what does not satisfy him, but is unable to imagine or define that which would make him experience that happiness for which his heart longs. We cannot know God on the basis only of human desire. Here there is an abiding mystery: man is searching for the absolute, but his search advances with slow and hesitant steps”.

“Even in our own time, which seems so averse to the transcendent dimension” it is possible “to open the way towards an authentic religious sense of life which shows how the gift of faith is neither absurd nor irrational”, said Benedict XVI. In this context he proposed “a pedagogy of desire, … including at least two aspects: Firstly, the acquisition or reacquisition of a taste for the authentic joys of life. Not all satisfactions produce the same effect upon us; some leave positive traces and are capable of pacifying our hearts making us more active and generous. Others, on the other hand, following the initial light they bring, seem to delude the expectations that aroused them and sometimes leave bitterness, dissatisfaction or a sense of emptiness in their wake”.

A second aspect of the pedagogy of desire consists of “never being satisfied with the goals we have reached”, said the Holy Father. “It is the most authentic joys which are able to liberate within us that sense of healthy disquiet which leads us to be more demanding, to desire a more exalted or more profound good, and at the same time to becoming increasingly aware that nothing finite can fill our hearts. Thus will we learn to tend, unarmed, towards that good which we cannot construct or procure by our own efforts, without allowing ourselves to be discouraged by the fatigue or obstacles that come from our sin”.

Finally the Holy Father noted that “desire always remains open to redemption, even when it takes the wrong paths, when it seeks artificial paradises and seems to lose its capacity to desire the true good. Even in the abyss of sin man never loses that spark which enables him to recognise and savour what is truly good, and to start along the path of ascension on which God, with the gift of His grace, will not fail to give His aid”.

“This does not mean, then, smothering the desire that is in man’s heart, but liberating it so that it can reach its true height. When desire opens a window to God this is a sign of the presence of faith in a person’s heart, faith which is a grace of God”, Benedict XVI concluded.

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Faith Means Believing in the Love of God Which Redeems Us from Slavery

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

The faith, its meaning and significance in the modern world, were the main themes of Benedict XVI’s catechesis during his weekly general audience held this morning in St. Peter’s Square. “In our time”, the Pope said, “we need a renewed education in the faith. Certainly this must include a knowledge of its truths and of the events of salvation, but above all it must arise from an authentic encounter with God in Jesus Christ”.

“Today, along with many signs of goodness, a spiritual desert is spreading around us. … Even the ideas of progress and well-being are revealing their shadows and, despite the great discoveries of science and progress of technology, mankind today does not seem to have become freer. … Many forms of exploitation, violence and injustice persist. … Moreover, there are growing numbers of people who seem disorientated and who, in their search to go beyond a purely horizontal vision of reality, are ready to believe everything and the opposite of everything. In this context, certain fundamental questions arise: … What meaning does life have? Do men and women, we and coming generations, have a future? What awaits us beyond the threshold of death?”

From these questions, the Pope explained, it is clear that “scientific knowledge, though important for the life of man, is not of itself enough. We need not only material bread, we need love, meaning and hope. We need a sure foundation … which gives our lives true significance even in moments of crisis and darkness, even in daily difficulties. This is what the faith gives us. It means entrusting ourselves confidently to the ‘You? that is God, the which gives me certainty: a certainty different but no less solid than that which comes from exact calculations and science. The faith is not a mere intellectual assent on man’s part to the specific truths about God, it is an act by which I freely entrust myself to God Who is a Father and Who loves me, … Who gives me hope and inspires my trust.

“Of course”, the Pope added, “such adherence to God is not without content. Through it we are aware that God showed Himself to us in Christ. … With the mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ, God descended to the depths of our human condition in order to draw it to Himself, to raise it to His heights. Faith means believing in this love of God, which does not diminish in the face of the corruption of man, in the face of evil and death; on the contrary, it is capable of transforming all forms of slavery, giving them the possibility of salvation”.

“This possibility of salvation through faith is a gift which God gives to all mankind. I believe we should meditate more often – during our daily lives often marked by problems and dramatic situations – on the fact that Christian belief means abandoning oneself trustingly to the profound meaning which upholds me and the world, the meaning which we cannot give to ourselves but only receive as a gift, and which is the foundation upon which we can live without fear. We must be capable of announcing this liberating and reassuring certainty of the faith with words, and showing it with our Christian lives”.

“Underpinning our journey of faith is Baptism, the Sacrament which gives us the Holy Spirit, makes us children of God in Christ, and marks our entry into the community of faith, into the Church. A person does not believe alone, without God’s grace, nor do we believe by ourselves, but together with our brothers and sisters. From Baptism on all believers are called to re-live this confession of the faith and to make it their own, together with their brethren”.

The Holy Father concluded: “The faith is a gift of God but it is also a profoundly free and human act. … It does not run counter to our freedom or our reason. … Believing means entrusting oneself in all freedom and joy to God’s providential plan for history, as did the Patriarch Abraham, as did Mary of Nazareth”.

In his greetings at the end of his audience, the Pope recalled how “last Monday we celebrated the memory of Blessed John Paul II, who remains alive among us”. In this context, he invited young people “to learn to face life with his ardour and enthusiasm”, and the sick “to carry the cross of suffering joyfully, as he himself taught us”.

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“I want to give myself to You without holding anything back”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2012/08/15 at 9:11 AM

It is Peter who speaks: Lord, do You wash my feet? Jesus answers: You do not understand what I am doing now; you will understand it later. Peter insists: You will never wash my feet. And Jesus explains: If I do not wash your feet, you will have no part with me. Simon Peter surrenders: Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head. Faced by the call to total self-giving, complete and without any hesitation, we often oppose it with false modesty like Peter’s … May we also be men with a heart like the Apostle’s! Peter allows no one to love Jesus more than he does. That love leads us to reply thus: Here I am! Wash me, head, hands and feet! Purify me completely, for I want to give myself to You without holding anything back. (Furrow, 266)

The kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15).

And all the crowd gathered about him, and he taught them (Mark 2:13).

Jesus sees the boats on the shore and gets into one of them. How naturally Jesus steps into the boat of each and everyone of us! When you seek to draw close to our Lord, remember that he is always very close to you, that he is in you. (Luke 17:21). The kingdom of God is within you. You will find him in your heart.

Christ should reign first and foremost in our soul. But in order for him to reign in me, I need his abundance grace. Only in that way can my every heartbeat and breath, my least intense look, my most ordinary word, my most basic feeling be transformed into a hosanna to Christ my King.

Put out into deep water!’ Throw aside the pessimism that makes a coward of you. And pay out your nets for a catch!

We have to place our trust in our Lord’s words: get into the boat, take the oars, hoist the sails and launch out into this sea of the world which Christ gives us as an inheritance.

His kingdom will have no end. Doesn’t it fill you with joy to work for such a kingdom?

“Take courage, Jesus said, it is myself; do not be afraid”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2012/04/18 at 9:11 AM
The Lord’s calling – vocation – always presents itself like this: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Yes: a vocation demands self-denial, sacrifice. But how pleasant that sacrifice turns out to be — Gaudium cum pace, joy and peace — if that self-giving is complete. (Furrow, 8)

If you agree to let God take command of your boat, if you let him be the master, how safe you will be!… even when he seems to have gone away, to have fallen asleep, to be unconcerned; even though a storm is rising and it’s pitch dark all around you. St Mark tells us how once the apostles were in just such circumstances and Jesus ‘when the night had reached its fourth quarter, seeing them hard put to it with rowing (for the wind was against them), came to them walking on the sea… Take courage, he said, it is myself; do not be afraid. So he came to them on board the boat, and thereupon the wind dropped’ [1].

My children, so many things happen to us here on earth!… I could tell you so many tales of sorrow, of suffering, of ill treatment, of martyrdom — and I mean it literally — of the heroism of many souls. In our mind’s eye we sometimes get the impression that Jesus is asleep, that he does not hear us. But St Luke describes how the Lord looks after his own. ‘When they (the disciples), were sailing, he slept. And there came down a storm of wind upon the lake and they began to ship water perilously. They came and awakened him saying, Master, we perish! But Jesus arising, rebuked the wind and the rage of the water. And it ceased and there was a calm. And he said to them, Where is your faith?’[2]

If we give ourselves to him, he will give himself to us. We must trust the Master completely, place ourselves unreservedly in his hands; show him by our actions that the boat is his; that we want him to do as he pleases with all we possess. (Friends of God, 22)

[1] Mark 6:48,50-51
[2] Luke 8:23-25