Category Archives: Reflection

The Vanishing American Adult and the Religious Life

Senator Ben Sasse has written a new book called The Vanishing American Adult. I highly recommend it, especially for those of us concerned about the future of religious life in America. The book is a diagnosis and prognosis of the current situation of the youth in America. He doesn’t lay blame on American kids but mainly their parents for protecting them from challenges that will help them become adults.  Adulthood is not just a biological stage but something to be earned. In the past, it  was what we all needed to learn, whether or not we liked it. This is not the case anymore. Our culture endorses prolonged adolescence, upholding baby 40-year-olds.

Adults are responsible and virtuous as good citizens and members of the Church.  They make tough decisions and take responsibility for their decisions. They are not passive but active. Senator Sasse’s book is important for those of us concerned with Religious Life because becoming a religious takes the virtues of an adult, putting away childish things. With the vanishing of the American adult, the Republic will not only suffer but also the Church, especially religious life.

Pray for parents. It is difficult to raise children in today’s culture of the vanishing adult. Unlike any time in history, the culture is raising kids more than the parents, undermining parental authority. Parents should be supported and encouraged to actively raise their children into the virtues. Senator Sasse gives some helpful advice on what he and his wife are doing for their children. Read his book and take his advice.

Buy the book here. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017 – World Day of Cloistered Life

On November 21 (the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple), the Church will celebrate World Day of Cloistered Life, also known as “Pro Orantibus” Day, which is a Latin phrase meaning “for those who pray.” This is an important ecclesial event for all Catholics worldwide to commemorate the hidden lives of consecrated religious in cloisters and monasteries.

We celebrate this day because the contemplative life is a gift from Almighty God to us all — all the world benefits spiritually from the prayer and sacrifice of these dedicated and faithful souls, even when we may not know it. On this day, the faithful are encouraged to reach out to the cloistered and contemplative communities in their diocese, through prayer, encouragement, and material support.

Please click at the link for more info and for resources: http://www.cloisteredlife.com/news/pro-orantibus-day/

Beauty and Religious Life

Most of us recognize the beauty of the religious life. For most, the beauty of monasticism stands out. But its other forms us as beautiful as well because love is the motivating center.  But why is the religious life beautiful? In order to answer that question we should first list the classical criteria of beauty. Thomas Aquinas says three things are necessary for beauty:

First, (1) integrity or perfection, for things that are lacking in something are for this reason ugly; also (2) due proportion or consonance; and again, (3) clarity, for we call things beautiful when they are brightly colored.

Since Christ is Love made visible and religious life is conformity to Christ, religious life is a continuation of that love made visible in Christ. Love is perfect, showing forth integrity (1). There is no lack. It is the perfection of all things. It is harmonious and proportionate (2). It does not undermine a(they part or add superfluity. The parts are united into a harmonious whole (order). Lastly, it shines forth (3). It communicates itself, bringing others into its life.

If religious life is an intense participation in the Christ life which is Love, it will meet these three criteria. In an age full of thrills but lacking in beauty, Dostoyevsky’s prophecy that “beauty will save the world” needs to be taken seriously. Taking into consideration what was said above, then it makes sense to say the beauty of the religious life is integral to saving the world because in and through it Christ is encountered.

Oh Priest, Who Are You?

On this Holy Thursday when we thank God for the institution of the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Orders, it is good to recall this meditation on the priesthood by St. Norbert:

norbertO Priest, who are you?

You are not yourself, because you are God.
You are not of yourself because you are the servant and minister of Christ.

You are not your own because you are the spouse of the Church.
You are not yourself because you are the mediator between God and man.

You are not from yourself because you are nothing.
What then are you? Nothing and everything.

O Priest!

Take care lest what was said to Christ on the cross be said to you:
‘He saved others, himself he cannot save!’

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions – January

PopeFrancisPrayingThe Holy Father’s prayer intentions for the month of January and as well as reflections by Fr. James Kubicki, S.J., National Director of the Apostleship of Prayer.

1. Universal Intention

That all may promote authentic economic development that respects the dignity of all peoples.

Pope Francis sees that the “worship of the golden calf of old (see Exodus 32: 15-34) has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money” which puts making money ahead of people. “Concealed behind this attitude is a rejection of ethics, a rejection of God. Money has to serve, not to rule!”

The universal intention this month challenges us to examine ourselves and our choices, for as the Holy Father declared: “The Pope appeals for disinterested solidarity and for a return to person-centered ethics in the world of finance and economics.”

1 Timothy 6: 6-10 The love of money is the root of all evils.

2. Evangelization Intention

That Christians of diverse denominations may walk toward the unity desired by Christ.

Because there are obvious divisions among Christians, the world has trouble believing in Jesus. Thus, part of evangelization—spreading the Gospel—is work and prayer for unity. At the Last Supper Jesus prayed to the Father that Christians “may all be one…so that the world may know” that the Father sent Him (John 17: 20-23). This unity among Christians must be visible so that the world can see and believe.

During the annual Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, January 18-25, we pray with Pope Francis that the Holy Spirit may make us one as Jesus and the Father are one—so that the world may believe.

James 4: 1-12 Where do the conflicts among you come from?

For Father Kubicki’s complete reflections, please visit the Apostleship of Prayer.

December Prayer Intentions from the Holy Father

Here are the Holy Father’s Prayer Intentions for the month of December courtesy of the Apostleship of Prayer as well as an excerpt of their reflection for each intention:

child11. General Intention: That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need.

On Christmas a few years ago, Pope Benedict spoke of “children who are denied the love of their parents…, children who are brutally exploited as soldiers…, and children who are victims of the industry of pornography and every other appalling form of abuse.” What can change this evil? “Only through the conversion of hearts, only through a change in the depths of our hearts can the cause of all this evil be overcome.”

We pray for this conversion as we pray that victimized children may find the love and protection they need.

child22. Mission Intention: That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior’s coming.

We Christians are preparing not only for the celebration of Christmas but also for the second coming of Christ. While Advent is a designated season for this preparation, we may also experience Advent every time we prepare to receive the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion. When we ask in prayer that we may be more like Mary, we prepare ourselves to receive the Word of God and give Him flesh in our lives.

May each Mass and daily offering help us to prepare humanity for the Savior’s coming.

How Deep Are Your Roots?

The following spiritual meditation was written by a religious sister who is a member of the Institute on Religious Life.

Dealing with the Storms of Life

 This morning before dawn the heavy rains brought down a large tree on the property near a house where a family―with parents, children and grandparents, are living. It blocked the street and took out power to the surrounding homes and to a nearby school, which registered a 2-hour delay as a result.  By mid morning all was well: the tree was chopped up and moved off the road, the power lines were up, the meter box on the house (which had been torn off during the incident) was re-attached, and power was restored, including to the school.

This is what I know:

– I know that the roots must have not been buried deeply enough to give the tree the foundation it needed, so when the rains came they softened the ground and up came the tree, roots and all.

– I know that all the traffic had to be re-routed and the tree that no one had ever noticed before became a barrier to the journey people needed to make.

– I know that the lack of roots not only disturbed the flow of traffic and made people late for work but also stopped the flow of power to those who were counting on it to get them through the tasks of daily life today: washing up, brewing coffee, shaving, blow-drying hair, putting in the laundry, making toast, checking emails.

– I know that people who took electricity and roads for granted, didn’t take them for granted this morning.

– And I know that some men must have gone to work today only to discover that their socks didn’t match, because they dressed in the dark.

– I know I am very grateful to God for not letting the tree fall on the house, and for not allowing the downed power lines set the house on fire.

– I know that people worked hard to get things cleared and restored so that other people could continue with their day.

– And I know it made me think seriously about my life.

This is what I don’t know:

– I don’t know how deep my roots are.

– I don’t know what kind of storms can soften my ground and cause my foundation to weaken and fail.

– I don’t always know exactly how firm my foundation is to begin with.

– I don’t know what kinds of things suspend the flow of traffic in my soul and reroute the Grace that God sends me.

– I don’t know what I really need to help me carry out the tasks of daily life: fidelity to the Rule, attention to the people whose lives touch mine, fulfillment of responsibilities to those under my care.

– And I don’t know what sorts of things destroy my attachment to my Source.

– I don’t really know the depth of Divine Providence in my life.

Or the importance of silent prayer.

Or my own need for communion with Jesus to get me safely through the day.

Or that little things that I never notice can make me lose the way.

– I don’t know why I take so much for granted in my spiritual life, or why I don’t  know how much I need to be attuned to those things that take out my power.

– I don’t even know what happens when I try to dress my soul in the dark.

So I wonder what you know about your soul.

And what you might not know.

Perhaps, like me, a little storm now and then might help you draw closer to the things that matter, the One who really matters.

Perhaps a dark hour might bring great light to your soul.

That is my prayer for you: not that you will experience a dark hour, but that the darkness that invariably comes to you, unbidden, unexpected, will be the means of renewing your attachment to Our Lord, deepening your roots, and making you more fully aware of how much you are loved by the One in Whom you are grounded.

May He be your Everything today and tomorrow. And all days.

And may all your storms today be little.

 

The Price of Being Loved

The Head of St. John the Baptist

The price of being loved by the Almighty is high, as also is the price of growing in His love. The more precious the commodity, the higher the price; the most precious possession in the world is the love of God. You don’t get this, I don’t say for nothing or cheaply; you pay, and you pay dearly.

Can we be more specific? What does God expect of us who claim that we love Him as recompense for His prior goodness to us and as the wages, so to speak, to merit an increase of His bounty on our behalf? He finally expects these two things:

  • That we are willing to give up whatever pleasant things He may want us to surrender.
  • That we are willing to take whatever painful things He may want to send us.

Between these two, surrender and suffering, or as I prefer, sacrifice and the cross, lies the whole price range of divine love…. The love of God is paid for as Christ paid for the love of His Father with the hard currency of willing sacrifice and the holy cross.

When I was younger, and I thought, smarter, I didn’t talk quite this way. But experience is a good, though costly, teacher.

—Rev. John A. Hardon, S.J.

“With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord, God of hosts.”

Today, on the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we reflect on this title of Our Lady as the patroness of the Carmelite order, under which she appeared to St. Simon Stock and presented to him the brown scapular. The Carmelites, who began as a community of hermits on Mount Carmel, Israel, in the 1200s and who point back to Elijah (hermit and prophet) as the first to be fired with the zeal of Mount Carmel, have spread throughout the world and continue to live the charism of seeking a direct and intimate experience of God.

But this kind of intimate union is purely a gift from God, which raises the question, how do we go about seeking it? How do we attain it? The answer is that we simply ready ourselves for it, so that if God seeks to give it, we are there with open hands. St. Teresa of Avila explained our hearts as a garden, which we weed and seek to water, so that if God wishes, He may come into it and take His delight. Carmelites characteristically have a deep-seated desire to be touched by God in this way, and so they accept many purgations and challenges of growing in virtue, that their hearts might become a beautiful and inviting dwelling place for the God Who placed this desire within them.

This union with God is the end goal of all of our lives, although most of us will experience it only in heaven. But St. Teresa tells us that many of us are called to experience it to varying degrees here on earth too. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us, that we might also desire interior intimacy with God and be willing to do what it takes to be receptive to it!