I apologize for the audio problems which are ongoing from last week, but it is still possible to understand the Deacon as he explains what the cause for the spiritual aliments that beset us is and what their surest remedy is-
“We were made and designed for life. We Christians understand that [this desire] is for eternal life. Yet in the business of life we sometimes only live a shadow of a life.”
[St. Ignatius of Loyola’s] advice – which is very timely – is also good, good reminder. He said that every true Christian should pray as if everything depended on God, but work as if everything depended upon himself. Now this may sound like a contradiction, and in fact we have to make one slight clarification, because we cannot imply, or infer in this that there is anything we can do that will merit salvation. We cannot buy our eternal happiness. But it is this coupling, rather, of dependence upon God and His Providence and using our intelligence – which is also a gift of God – that makes us human. To pray as if everything depended upon the Almighty One, but to work with the gifts that we have as if everything depended upon ourselves.
But how do we do that? How do we stay faithful that that identity, and grow in maturity of faith and purpose? One writer has suggested that every Christian needs to learn how to follow their ‘holy discontent’. What does that mean: holy discontent? We know, simply by turning on the news, that there are allot of things wrong in the world. But not all of the wrongs in the world touch our hearts in the same way. For each of us, one or another particular thing resonates more than the others. And that could be this ’holy discontent’, that which Paul says, “To each individual manifestation of the Spirit, it is given for some benefit,” for something that’s concrete. And maybe, God has given us this special sensitivity to some particular issue because He is calling us to shine as light in the world there. And if each of us made the commitment to brighten up just one dark corner of the earth … There are many things we could commit to, but the point is that if we commit to something we must do so with the light of Christ and the mind of Christ. And if we approach the world in that way imagine what the world could be like even twelve months from now?
What we do, as Catholics when we receive Communion, is the most intimate relationship that we can have with Jesus this side of heaven. When we eat His body and drink His blood, we become like that which we eat – we become more like Christ. And we are nourished in our souls to live courageously the message of the Gospel. So what you do today is a reminder to us.
… we also celebrate today the transferred feast of the Ascension. It seems to me that we don’t think enough about this mystery. It is one of the essential mysteries of our faith, but if you don’t recite the rosary regularly the idea of the Ascension hardly ever comes to mind. But it is a crucial part of Christ’s message and mission. It is the culminating moment – the finale, if you will – the moment in which His victory is enshrined in heaven forever. Jesus ascended into heaven as the living and true sacrifice, that which is made present here under the appearance of bread and wine. He presents to God our Father, our humanity – our very flesh – that living sacrifice, our eternal high priest, that continues to be our bridge of communion between God and humanity until the end of time.
The more that we experience Christ as our Savior, the more we will experience the abundant life, the interior peace, the freedom of being His sons and daughters, wisdom, strength, and the meaning that comes from this. The list should sound familiar; it should resemble the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
…God desires that we develop our own talents. That we try to improve our relationship with Him, with one another and build up society for good. Because our relationship with God is not just this way, but it is also this way. And that is part of the unique thing about Christianity, it’s not just ‘Jesus and me’ – it’s Jesus and me and the Church and building up the world. That’s why the command of Christ is so radical. Not only love God, but love neighbor – Neighbor as yourself. That is God’s will. Most of the time it’s perfectly clear if we just think about it.
And so, today we are given this opportunity then as we are almost, we are a third of the way through Lent – to contemplate this great truth: that … or one of the concepts of Lent is that Christ desires this relationship with us and it’s been made perfectly clear by the way, not only [how] he lived his life, but that He went to His passion for our sake. And that when we celebrate Easter, we celebrate not only His victory over death, but that great love that He has shown for us that is given to us as the promise for what is to come. What is to come? Promise of eternal happiness and joy and bliss with Him, in eternal communion with Him, in heaven.
Throughout all of human history mankind has sought answers to pressing questions that simmer in the depths of our hearts: ‘Why are we here? Who am I? How can we find happiness? Why is there suffering and evil in the world?’ Often, as attested to by the great literature of the world, we have addressed these questions directly to God. Sometimes it may seem though that God has not responded, but in fact He has. And His response is an amazing one – it is surprising one – it is not a thing, but rather His response is a living person. Not a formula, or a philosophy, or a way of life, but in the person of His Son – God become man…
These two things – repentance and faith (or belief) – characterize our spiritual lives during Lent. First; to repent, or turn away from sin, to break our selfish habits and bring our appetites under control. This kind of repentance is not only about the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but it is also about reconciling ourselves and our own understanding of ourselves to the way that God understands us. Repentance and confession give God a chance to pour out His mercy and love into our souls.
Often when we speak about relationship – we talk about our relationship with God and with neighbor – but this season is slightly different, it is our chance, our opportunity – nay, even our blessing – to take time to deepen that relationship with Jesus Christ. That which will culminate in the celebration of His death and resurrection. Because dear friends if we don’t get that right, if we don’t get that kind of relationship right with God, nothing else can possibly make sense in life – not our relationship to one another, our relationship to our families or to the Church. None of that can make sense …
…Our faith is like that pearl necklace. It is our most valuable possession because it gives meaning and direction to our lives, but when we don’t put it into practice it loses its luster. When we don’t use it, when we don’t develop it, when we just keep it on the shelf and bring it out at Christmas and Easter it loses its vitality and would become dull.