Saturday, March 26, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
Forgive me, readers, for the absence over the last few weeks. Life in the monastery has been incredibly busy and I have been unable to set aside even the smallest amount of time for the blog.... However, I am regrouping and attempting to get back into a daily, if not semi-daily, posting of some reflection.
Today, I came upon a meditation written by Fr. Ronald Check, priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He wrote this last year and I found it particularly apropos for our time now. As you read this, pray for, Father, and offer a small sacrifice for his intentions.
Our first reading today begins with these words,"Lord, great and awesome God, you who keep your merciful covenant toward those who love you and observe your commandments! We have sinned, been wicked and done evil; we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws." (Daniel 9:4b -5) And the reading continues with a great acknowledgement of sin. Most spiritual writers suggest that in order for us to begin our spiritual growth, that, in order for us to begin the journey along the path that leads to God, we must first begin by purifying ourselves of sin. Saint Francis DeSales says, "a soul that hopes for the honor of being made a spouse of the Son of God must 'put off the old man, and put on the new' by forsaking sin and removing and cutting away whatever obstructs union with God." (IDL, Part 1, section 5) He goes on to say that this really is the first step, of many, along the path of holiness and one that must be frequently returned to throughout the journey. He says,"The first purgation we must make is that of sin and the way to make it is by the holy sacrament of penance." (IDL, Part 1, section 6) This, my dear friends, touches on the whole reason for Our Lord's life, for His Passion and Death, and Resurrection. Many scriptural references could easily be given to remind that He came for the forgiveness of our sins and that He came to take away our sins. If our Lent is going to be a fruitful one than we need to acknowledge our sins, and humbly seek God's mercy and forgiveness. If we are going to take our spiritual lives seriously and not just "go through the motions," then we need to allow God's saving work of redemption to touch our very lives, and where better to allow God into our hearts then in the confessional. For it is there, that God's infinite love and mercy touches each person, and the goodness of our Heavenly Father becomes real and prepares us to enter more deeply into the mysteries of life that we celebrate at every Mass. So long as our sin rules our lives, there is little room for Christ. Pride is often the greatest obstacle to spiritual growth and peace. May our Lent be one of true contrition and may the Good God inspire in each one of us a great desire to be free from shackles of sin so as to live as free men and women in the kingdom of God. Amen.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
From His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, [...] in order to undertake more seriously our journey towards Easter and prepare ourselves to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord – the most joyous and solemn feast of the entire liturgical year – what could be more appropriate than allowing ourselves to be guided by the Word of God? For this reason, the Church, in the Gospel texts of the Sundays of Lent, leads us to a particularly intense encounter with the Lord, calling us to retrace the steps of Christian initiation: for catechumens, in preparation for receiving the Sacrament of rebirth; for the baptized, in light of the new and decisive steps to be taken in the sequela Christi and a fuller giving of oneself to him.
The First Sunday of the Lenten journey reveals our condition as human beings here on earth. The victorious battle against temptation, the starting point of Jesus’ mission, is an invitation to become aware of our own fragility in order to accept the Grace that frees from sin and infuses new strength in Christ – the way, the truth and the life (cf. Ordo Initiationis Christianae Adultorum, n. 25). It is a powerful reminder that Christian faith implies, following the example of Jesus and in union with him, a battle “against the ruling forces who are masters of the darkness in this world” (Eph 6: 12), in which the devil is at work and never tires – even today – of tempting whoever wishes to draw close to the Lord: Christ emerges victorious to open also our hearts to hope and guide us in overcoming the seductions of evil.
The Gospel of the Transfiguration of the Lord puts before our eyes the glory of Christ, which anticipates the resurrection and announces the divinization of man. The Christian community becomes aware that Jesus leads it, like the Apostles Peter, James and John “up a high mountain by themselves” (Mt 17: 1), to receive once again in Christ, as sons and daughters in the Son, the gift of the Grace of God: “This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favor. Listen to him” (Mt 17: 5). It is the invitation to take a distance from the noisiness of everyday life in order to immerse oneself in God’s presence. He desires to hand down to us, each day, a Word that penetrates the depths of our spirit, where we discern good from evil (cf. Heb 4:12), reinforcing our will to follow the Lord.
The question that Jesus puts to the Samaritan woman: “Give me a drink” (Jn 4: 7), is presented to us in the liturgy of the third Sunday; it expresses the passion of God for every man and woman, and wishes to awaken in our hearts the desire for the gift of “a spring of water within, welling up for eternal life” (Jn 4: 14): this is the gift of the Holy Spirit, who transforms Christians into “true worshipers,” capable of praying to the Father “in spirit and truth” (Jn 4: 23). Only this water can extinguish our thirst for goodness, truth and beauty! Only this water, given to us by the Son, can irrigate the deserts of our restless and unsatisfied soul, until it “finds rest in God”, as per the famous words of St. Augustine.
The Sunday of the man born blind presents Christ as the light of the world. The Gospel confronts each one of us with the question: “Do you believe in the Son of man?” “Lord, I believe!” (Jn 9: 35. 38), the man born blind joyfully exclaims, giving voice to all believers. The miracle of this healing is a sign that Christ wants not only to give us sight, but also open our interior vision, so that our faith may become ever deeper and we may recognize him as our only Savior. He illuminates all that is dark in life and leads men and women to live as “children of the light”.
On the fifth Sunday, when the resurrection of Lazarus is proclaimed, we are faced with the ultimate mystery of our existence: “I am the resurrection and the life… Do you believe this?” (Jn 11: 25-26). For the Christian community, it is the moment to place with sincerity – together with Martha – all of our hopes in Jesus of Nazareth: “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world” (Jn 11: 27). Communion with Christ in this life prepares us to overcome the barrier of death, so that we may live eternally with him. Faith in the resurrection of the dead and hope in eternal life open our eyes to the ultimate meaning of our existence: God created men and women for resurrection and life, and this truth gives an authentic and definitive meaning to human history, to the personal and social lives of men and women, to culture, politics and the economy. Without the light of faith, the entire universe finishes shut within a tomb devoid of any future, any hope.
The Lenten journey finds its fulfillment in the Paschal Triduum, especially in the Great Vigil of the Holy Night: renewing our baptismal promises, we reaffirm that Christ is the Lord of our life, that life which God bestowed upon us when we were reborn of “water and Holy Spirit”, and we profess again our firm commitment to respond to the action of the Grace in order to be his disciples. [...]
In synthesis, the Lenten journey, in which we are invited to contemplate the Mystery of the Cross, is meant to reproduce within us “the pattern of his death” (Ph 3: 10), so as to effect a deep conversion in our lives; that we may be transformed by the action of the Holy Spirit, like St. Paul on the road to Damascus; that we may firmly orient our existence according to the will of God; that we may be freed of our egoism, overcoming the instinct to dominate others and opening us to the love of Christ. The Lenten period is a favorable time to recognize our weakness and to accept, through a sincere inventory of our life, the renewing Grace of the Sacrament of Penance, and walk resolutely towards Christ.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, through the personal encounter with our Redeemer and through fasting, almsgiving and prayer, the journey of conversion towards Easter leads us to rediscover our Baptism. This Lent, let us renew our acceptance of the Grace that God bestowed upon us at that moment, so that it may illuminate and guide all of our actions. What the Sacrament signifies and realizes, we are called to experience every day by following Christ in an ever more generous and authentic manner. In this our itinerary, let us entrust ourselves to the Virgin Mary, who generated the Word of God in faith and in the flesh, so that we may immerse ourselves – just as she did – in the death and resurrection of her Son Jesus, and possess eternal life.
From the Vatican, 4 November, 2010
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI