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Reflections On Kindness: Spiritual Exercise 05/09/22

Please join us Monday 05/09/2022 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MT (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm ET). ✝️🕍

Click on Zoom: https://us05web.zoom.us/j/4537185699?pwd=emRVOEZwMTY1eGN1bzYrU2VldWhiZz09

Opening Prayer: The Memorare

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

Amen

Reflections on Kindness

Fr. Frederick William Faber (1814-1863)

“Man has considerable powers, considerable enough to leave him, as proprietor of this planet. He has one power in particular, which is not sufficiently dwelt on. It is the power of making the world happy, or, at least, of so greatly diminishing the amount of unhappiness in it as to make it quite a different world from what it is at present. This power is called kindness. 

The worst kinds of unhappiness, as well as the greatest amount of it, come from our conduct to each other. If our conduct, therefore, were under the control of kindness, it would be nearly the opposite of what it is, and so the state of the world would be almost reversed. We are for the most part unhappy because the world is an unkind world; but the world is only unkind for the lack of kindness in us who compose it. It is plainly worth our while to take some trouble to gain clear and definite notions of kindness. We practice more easily what we already know clearly. 

We must first ask ourselves what kindness is. Kindness is the overflowing of self upon others. We put others in the place of self. We treat them as we would wish to be treated ourselves. We change places with them. For the time self is another, and others are self.

We cannot speak of the virtues without thinking of God. Kindness is the coming to the rescue of others when they need it, and it is in our power to supply what they need, and this is the work of the attributes of God towards His creatures. (God is always doing this with us.)

Kindness is also like Divine grace, for it gives men something which neither self nor Nature can give them. What it gives them is something of which they are in want, or something which only another person can give, such as consolation; and besides this, the manner in which this is given is a true gift in itself, better far than the thing given. Kindness adds sweetness to everything. It is kindness which makes life’s capabilities blossom, and paints them with their cheering hues, and endows them with their invigorating fragrance.

See how, turn which way we will, kindness is entangled with the thought of God! Last of all, the secret impulse out of which kindness acts is an instinct which is the noblest part of ourselves, the most undoubted remnant of the image of God which was given us at the first. We must, therefore, never think of kindness as being a common growth of our nature, common in the sense of its being of little value. It is the nobility of man. In all its modifications it reflects a heavenly type. It runs up into eternal mysteries. It is a Divine thing rather than a human one, and it is human because it springs from the soul of man just at the point where the Divine image was graven deepest. 

Each solitary kind action that is done the whole world over is working briskly in its own sphere to restore the balance between right and wrong. The more kindness there is on the earth at any given moment, the greater is the tendency of the balance between right and wrong to correct itself and remain in equilibrium. Nay, this is short of the truth. Kindness allies itself with right to invade the wrong and beat it off the earth.

This dear virtue is forever entering into God’s original dispositions as Creator. He meant the world to be a happy world, and kindness means it also. He gave it the power to be happy, and kindness was a great part of that very power. By His benediction He commanded creation to be happy; kindness, with its usual genial spirit of accommodation, now tries to persuade a world which has dared to disobey a Divine command. Kindness sees less clearly the ruin of God’s original idea than it sees still that first beneficent idea, and it sets to work to cleanse what is defiled and to restore what is defaced. It sorrows over sin, but, like buoyant-hearted men, it finds in its sorrow the best impulse of its activity. It is laboring always in ten thousand places, and the work at which it labors is always the same — to make God’s world more like His original conception of it. 

It is no less energetic and successful in preparing and enlarging His ways as Savior. It is constantly winning strayed souls back to Him, opening hearts that seemed obstinately closed, enlightening minds that had been willfully darkened, skillfully throwing the succors of hope into the strongholds that were on the point of capitulating to despair, lifting endeavor from low to high, from high to higher, from higher to highest. Everywhere kindness is the best pioneer of the Precious Blood. We often begin our own repentance by acts of kindness, or through them. Probably the majority of repentances have begun in the reception of acts of kindness, which, if not unexpected, touched men by the sense of their being so undeserved. Kindness has converted more sinners than either zeal, eloquence, or learning; and these three last have never converted anyone unless they were kind also.

What does kindness do for those to whom we show it? What we note first as of great consequence, is the immense power of kindness in bringing out the good points of the characters of others. Almost all men have more goodness in them than the ordinary intercourse of the world enables us to discover. Indeed, most men, from the glimpses we now and then obtain, carry with them to the grave much undeveloped nobility. Who has not seen how disagreeable and faulty characters will expand under kindness. It is wonderful what capabilities grace can find in the most unpromising character. 

Another work which our kindness does in the hearts of others is to encourage them in their efforts after good. We all of us need encouragement to do good. The path of virtue, even when it is not uphill, is rough and stony, and each day’s journey is a little longer than our strength admits of, only there are no means of shortening it. How many noble hearts have sunk under this not ignoble weariness! How many plans for God’s glory have fallen to the ground, which a bright look or a kind eye would have propped up. Oh, what a wretched thing it is to be unkind! 

I think, with the thought of the Precious Blood, I can better face my sins at the last judgment than my unkindness, with all its miserable fertility of evil consequences. But if we have no notion of the far-reaching mischief which unkindness does, so neither can we rightly estimate the good which kindness may do.

Moreover, kindness is infectious. No kind action ever stopped with itself. One kind action leads to another. By one we commit ourselves to more than one. Our example is followed. The single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make fresh trees.

  1. Do you have an experience of kindness that radically changed your life or made a life-changing difference?
  2. Listen for Fr. Flanagan’s story of Calvary and Kindness. What is the nature of the kindness Jesus shows on Calvary?
  3. What is your experience of seeing the impact of your own kindness on others.
  4. Stop and think of instances where you have experienced kindness from others. What are some of the effects it had on you interiorly? How did it make you feel?  How did it affect your responses and reactions both immediately and long-term?
  5. What’s the difference between kindness and “niceness?”

Please join us Monday 06/13/2022 for our next session. 

Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us.

A Vision Of Victory: Spiritual Exercise 04/11/22

Please join us Monday 04/11/22 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MT (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm ET). ✝️🕍

Zoom: https://us05web.zoom.us/j/4537185699?pwd=emRVOEZwMTY1eGN1bzYrU2VldWhiZz09

Opening Prayer: The Memorare

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

Amen

A Vision Of Victory

After His Resurrection, Jesus remained on earth with his disciples for forty days.  For Forty days the disciples got to see and experience Jesus in His resurrected body. It is likely that without this glimpse of things to come it would have been near impossible for the apostles to have died the same kinds of death Jesus did.  The promise of glory needed to be seen concretely as a reality of the life to come after living and suffering in this valley of tears.  

In Resurrection Jesus shows His disciples how His death has conquered the world, the flesh, the devil, sin and death.  But He particularly shows them the transformations of the body that will set us free from its current corruptibility.  He manifests to His disciples four gifts in particular of the resurrected body: clearness, agility, subtility, and impassibility.  These gifts will be eternal, never to be taken from us once we have them.

Clearness refers to the body’s increase in light, which will exceed even the sunlight.  The light is part of the glory of the resurrected body.

Agility is the quality Jesus shows in moving from place to place extremely quickly.  It appears He need only think of where He wants to be and He is there.

Subtility involves the body’s ability to pass through obstacles. (Jesus walked through the locked doors of the Cenacle on Easter Sunday.)

Impassability means a body that will be unchanging, never again able to suffer or die, incapable of being acted upon by an outside force.  It means a body that is 33 years, in the prime of life and will live forever.

The devil tries to make us forgetful of the definitive victories the Lord has won over the flesh, the world, sin, death, and the devil himself.  But that battle and those victories have to be fought and won directly in our own lives.  Then Easter becomes a living celebration for us.  

Jesus shows us in Resurrection the transformation of all earthly realities of suffering, brokenness, disharmony, death, disillusionment, etc.  The glories He reveals in Resurrection, in Victory, should motivate us to do the hard work that needs to be done, the dying to ourselves we resist so deeply but without which we cannot come to the new, transcendent life Jesus died to give us.

1. Our life here is meant to prepare us for the life we will live for all eternity. Do you see any prefigurements of the gift of clearness, subtility, agility and impassibility already in the culture?

2. We will live forever in our resurrected body.  The time we struggle with our corruptible body here is very limited by comparison.  St. Paul says he considers the sufferings of the present as nothing compared to the glory that awaits us.  Do you spend time thinking about what is to come in glory? Why or why not?

3. As we enter into the season of Easter, Jesus appears suddenly at times to those who are speaking of Him, as well as those locked away in fear.  Are you expecting to “see” Jesus during this time?  What can you do to be more sensitive to His presence in Resurrection?

4. What is your favorite Resurrection story and why?

May all that is of His great and glorious goodness be revealed to you as we celebrate the upcoming season of His most Holy and miraculous resurrection.

Facing The Cross In Our Lives: Spiritual Exercise 03/14/22

Thank you most devout friends in Christ for your prayers in the healing of Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, SOLT ❤️

Please join us Monday 03/14/22 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MT (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm ET). ✝️🕍

Zoom: https://us05web.zoom.us/j/4537185699?pwd=emRVOEZwMTY1eGN1bzYrU2VldWhiZz09

Opening Prayer: The Memorare

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

Amen

Facing The Cross In Our Lives

Nobody has come into this world with more courage than Our Lord Jesus Christ. The two things we fear the most, and spend our lives trying to avoid, suffering and death, Jesus embraces from the beginning, as a fundamental part of His mission.

There is no life in God without the Cross and the power that flows from it. Holiness and ultimate happiness are impossible without this wellspring of every grace we need for our journey back to the Father. The Cross is about infinitely more than suffering and death.

In this light, the most important ongoing work of the spiritual life is identifying sin, (facing its poisonous effects in our lives,) and then taking that sin and its venom to the Cross for forgiveness and Redemptive healing. This is prefigured in the Old Testament story of the Saraph Serpents in the desert.

The Israelites are in exodus from Egypt. God is in the process of liberating them. But, because the journey is arduous and difficult, they rebel and begin complaining against the Lord and against Moses. To show them the true nature of their sin, God sends Saraph serpents among them so that many are bitten and die.

This is a mysterious story. One curious question which raises itself is why the word Saraph is used. It is a word that typically describes angelic beings of the highest order (seraphim), not snakes. Satan or Lucifer, is traditionally held to have been a fallen seraphim. His manifest sin of course was rebellion. Once one enters into rebellion it opens the door to every other kind of vile and evil thing, multiplying as it were the poison of sin in our lives. Could it be that the snakes thus described, also represent the deadly bite of sin, the sting of satan, which the people had exposed themselves to by rebelling?

As the people realize the consequences of their sin, Moses intervenes for them before God, and God instructs Moses regarding the remedy. He is to fashion a bronze image of the serpent and to pin it or mount it on a pole so that any who are bitten and look upon it can be saved.

Jewish teaching offers the idea that the elevated serpent reminds the people of their sin but also redirects their thoughts to God Who is our supreme healer.

Equally mysteriously, we know Jesus tells the disciples that like the serpent in the desert, He must be lifted up so that all who look upon Him and believe may have eternal life. -Jn. 3: 14-15 Jesus, though sinless, takes sin upon Himself and nails it to the Cross so that it can be vanquished, annihilated in our lives.

Years ago, a Priest from New Mexico who worked in the healing ministry shared that when he was a boy, he heard the story of Moses and the mounting of the serpent on a pole for the healing of those bitten. It translated in his child’s mind to his father’s alcoholism. He took a beer can and mounted it on a pole and placed it out in the desert/Mesa where he had a little fort. And he would look at it in the same way the Israelites did who wanted healing, forgiveness, courage, redemption. God was already forming His future Priest to the power of the Cross at that early age.

Still, it is hard to face the Cross. It involves pain, sometimes the deepest pain we can imagine as we recognize our complicity in crucifying Our sweet Lord in all His goodness. And yet, the very thing that we are guilty of and which wounds us and others, must be faced so that the power of Christ can come to rest on us, redeem us and heal us.

Lent is a graced time to identify the sin in our lives and to mount it on the wood of the Cross so that Jesus can drain its power right out of our lives. The bite of sin does not have to kill us, but unless the sin in our lives meets the saving power of Christ, it will.

1. The suffering of the Cross comes to us in different ways. Sometimes the source of suffering in our lives comes from the effects of original sin; sometimes it is the effect of our own personal sin. And sometimes, it comes from the sins of others against us. If you had to symbolize the suffering in your life right now, what would that symbol be? What would you take to the Cross for healing?

2. All sin and all suffering has to be taken to the Cross for healing, Redemption and restoration. Is there anything in your life you hold onto and have failed to give over to the Lord? Anything you are ashamed of that you hold onto? Story of St. Jerome and Our Lord.

3. The idea that rebellion is a mother to other sins is easy to understand. Pride works this way as well. Unrepented sin spawns more sin. Do you have experience of this in your own life?

4. What is your experience of healing and liberation in Christ? What far-reaching effects has it had on your relationships and your life in general?

Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in His peace.

Amen

We look forward to hearing your beautiful voices April 11, 2022.

Modern Malady, Ancient Remedy: Spiritual Exercise 02/15/22

❤️❤️❤️ Please join us Tuesday 02/15/22 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MT (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm ET). ❤️❤️❤️

Zoom: https://us05web.zoom.us/j/4537185699?pwd=emRVOEZwMTY1eGN1bzYrU2VldWhiZz09

Opening Prayer: The Memorare

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

Amen

Modern Malady: Ancient Remedy

If you travel in Europe, especially on pilgrimage, you often find that the residents of various cities and towns are very proud of their canonized saints. Siena boasts St. Catherine. Assisi boasts St. Francis and St. Clare. Lourdes gives us St. Bernadette, etc. Spain, France, Germany all have many such places that vaunt well-known saints.

A question arises, though: Why only one or two recognized saints in a given area, in centuries of time? Why, for that matter, are there not more recognizable saints among us in the present age? Granted, certain saints are chosen for universal recognition because their lives are particularly inspiring and encouraging. But still, if the Faith and its transformative potential is so powerful, why don’t we see more holiness than we seem to?

Holiness of course is not always dramatically visible. Jesus spent 30 years in a hidden life of unparalleled holiness with Mary and Joseph and for the most part seems to have gone unnoticed until He began His public ministry. But nonetheless, where are the faithful disciples passionate enough to make a difference in the world we live in? Mother Angelica said that if every Catholic lived as they should the world would be changed overnight.

Every age has its particular challenges and Jesus tells us the way is narrow. In the early Church, persecution and heresy, the threat of torture and death, the poison of false theology, suppression and other opposition tested the courage of believers, but at the same time, mysteriously spawned more living faith and conversion.

In our day, in the West, one of the greatest challenges to our faith comes from the deadening influence of materialism and the constant overstimulation of our senses. Our lives become centered in gratifying ourselves in every way possible. Witness the number of food channels on cable, the multi-billion dollar fragrance, fashion and cosmetic industry, the incredible, life-altering reach of the music business into the lives especially of young people. And note the impact “image” has on determining crucial decisions in our lives.

We are led around by our senses but find ourselves lost in a kind of bewildering jumble of meaning, unable to discern truth and direction, unable to see properly, tossed about by the feelings and desires we let drive us. This overstimulation takes on a life of its own and smothers our spirit along with any taste for spiritual things.

The spiritual masters tell us that this “overstimulation and noise in our lives kills our receptivity to God.” (Fr. T. Dubay, OP). We slowly lose interest in our spiritual lives and anything related to it. We go through the motions of what we think we should do but are in great part disconnected from why we do what we do.

The remedy always comes from the Lord and in this case, it is the Lord’s simple prescription that we need. “Everyday, deny yourself, pick up your Cross and follow Me.”

Start to fast, to mortify yourself, to pray more, to practice silence so that the Lord, who speaks in the silence can make Himself felt in your life, and so that your spirit can be freed from earth-bound weights. (Note: some mortification is not appropriate for those who are sick. But others can be substituted, especially interior mortifications.)

Do we like to deny ourselves? No. Yet, it is vital. If we exercise some “violence” toward ourselves, our spirit begins to awaken and we experience some of the deeper touches of the Lord in sweetness, light and peace. And this in turn becomes soul-saving. “Unless souls are saved, nothing is saved; there can be no world peace unless there is soul peace. World wars are only projections of the conflicts waged inside the souls of men and women, for nothing happens in the external world that has not first happened within a soul.” Archbishop Fulton J Sheen

This is the battle the disciple has to engage in. This is the battle he has to win. The question comes to every believer: do I really want to follow the Lord or do I just want to appear to be in His company?

Please reflect in silence for 5 minutes on these questions:

1. What “noise” do you see in your own life? What things affect your spirit in a negative way?

2. What increases your own sensitivity to grace and to the Lord’s presence? What dampens your sensitivity?

3. How does suffering impact your relationship with the Lord? What positive things come from self-denial?

4. What kinds of mortification are appropriate for those who are sick?

5. What is the deeper healing mortification effects in us? Do you have experience of that in your own life?

In the Heart of Our Blessed Mother,

Sr. Anne Marie

The Imperative Of Charity: Spiritual Exercise 01/10/22

Please join us Monday 01/10/22 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MT (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm ET).

Zoom: https://us05web.zoom.us/j/4537185699?pwd=emRVOEZwMTY1eGN1bzYrU2VldWhiZz09

Meeting ID: 4537185699

Opening Prayer: The Memorare

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

Amen

The Imperative Of Charity

The beginning of a new year can be a meaningful time to ask where we should find ourselves at the end of our journey. What are we meant to have accomplished? St. John of the Cross tells us that our personal judgment will be an examination in love. But what kind of love? We rightly or wrongly love many things, from pizza to sports to family and even to various kinds of sin.

But there is a kind of love that transcends purely human love. We know this love as charity. Charity is a participation in divine love, and it helps us love as God loves. This is not something we can do well without divine help. But it is extremely important, because, as St. Robert Bellarmine says: “Charity is that with which no man is lost and without which no man is saved.”

The Lord infuses charity into our souls at our Baptism as a sharing of our new life with Him. Charity doesn’t necessarily grow in quantity as it does in intensity, according to our faithfulness in exercising it. Charity helps us to fulfill the Lord’s requirements and sanctifies us at the same time.

The spiritual life is essentially about this. We are challenged to come to love the way God loves, with a divine fire and an eye that sees the goodness of the Father where it would otherwise be invisible. This is the way we truly participate in the mystery of God at work in the world. All His works unfold in and through charity, in and through His divine love. Charity is the vehicle through which God changes the world. Nothing else lasts.

The perfect profile of a person who moves under this divine influence is given to us by St. Paul. A person filled with charity is patient, kind, not jealous, not pompous, not inflated, not rude, does not seek his own interests, is not quick-tempered, and does not brood over injury. He does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.He bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. He rightly shows that Love never fails. 1 Cor 13: 4-8

But Christ also delivers a sober warning concerning this kind of divinely inspired love. A time will come when, because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.

“…many will be led into sin; they will betray and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and deceive many; and because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold.” Mt. 24: 10-13

The demand at such a time will be to practice heroic charity, the kind of Paschal love that Jesus showed toward those who tortured and killed Him. He could do this because, in divine charity, He still recognized his executioners as children of the Father, estranged brothers and sisters, albeit unrecognizably disfigured, yet capable of being converted up to their last breath.

We will not, in the end, be judged on accomplishments unless they are the works of love. “If I speak in human and angelic tongues* but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.” 1 Cor 13: 1-3

Our personal future and the future of our world depends on our growth in charity, for “It is by the path of love, which is charity, that God draws near to man, and man to God,” says St. Albert the Great. “But where charity is not found, God cannot dwell. If then, we possess charity, we possess God, for “God is Charity” (1 John 4:8)

May 2022 be a year of exponential growth in Charity!

1. What does it take to come to love as God has loved you?

2. What today particularly works against the growth of charity in the world and what can you do to keep the love of God from dying out in people’s lives?

3. St. Paul tell us that we can do many things that ultimately have no meaning if they are not informed by love. What has charity looked like. In your life? What indicates its presence?

4. Are you able to see Christ in everyone? Are you able to see a brother or sister even in those who hurt you? How do you understand “paschal love” in this respect?

The Lavish And The Lowly: Spiritual Exercise 12/13/21

Please join us Monday 12/13/21 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MT (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm ET) Blessings.

Zoom Link: https://us05web.zoom.us/j/4537185699?pwd=emRVOEZwMTY1eGN1bzYrU2VldWhiZz09

Meeting ID: 4537185699

Opening Prayer: The Memorare

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. 

Amen

The Lavish and the Lowly

Anyone who has watched a Hallmark Christmas movie knows both how predictable and unreal they are. People will often say the movies are “safe,” meaning no bad language and no sex. Just romantic.

The incredible sets, noticeable in each movie, are lavishly decorated to convey the “magic” of Christmas.  Yet, there is something empty about the scenes, which they try to resolve by injecting a romantic story into the plotline.  The main characters often task themselves with breaking through to another distant or Scrooge-like character who just doesn’t see or appreciate how special Christmas is.  The existence of these characters is probably more real than anything else the movies offer.  If only the script took a deeper look. But, usually, the right hot chocolate or gingerbread cookie, and always a Christmas rescue project which involves saving a business, is provided to sway them to a deeper appreciation of the Christmas spirit. 

While we are initially attracted to the glitter of the lights, etc., it is not hard to recognize that none of it has anything to do with Jesus outside the occasional obligatory Christmas Carol they sometimes sing.  And none of it has anything to do with the world most of us live in. It’s fantasy without depth, without any real meaning or moral.  Entertaining perhaps, but nothing more, nothing that prepares us for or deepens the real meaning of Christmas in us.

For many people, Christmas time is a burden that intensifies their sadness, their loneliness, their feelings of isolation.  Yet, it is precisely for this reason that Jesus comes in the darkness of our night, radiating heavenly Light in place of all the artificial ones we surround ourselves with.  He comes to us in silence and stillness.  He identifies with us in our lowliness and draws us into the humble abode He has chosen to be born into, a metaphor for our own souls, our own hearts, which He nonetheless desires to inhabit.  

Those who are sad and sorrowful, who know the meanness of life, have a special key to this place.  They are closer to the Lord than they realize than all those who seek to find joy in the material trappings we have attached to Christmas and which drag our hearts down to earth when they are being invited to share the joy of heaven.  Caryll Houselander has noted that “The love for material things grows like a fungus in the soul and destroys the loveliness of the human heart utterly.” Those who have only their hearts to give, broken and bereft, tired and weary by life are closest to the hope and the peace that the angels proclaim that solemn night, for nothing diverts their attention from the Truth that only in God, in the courts of the House of the Lord, will our souls find the love and rejoicing that sets them free to soar above the sufferings they have endured. 

Christmas is not a time for the lavish but rather a time for the lowly.  It is the lowly and the lovers of wisdom who are drawn without reservation to the stable and who experience a restoration of the awe that animates a truly human heart.  Pope Benedict XVI says that God does not allow Himself to be shut out.  He finds a space, even if it means entering through a stable.  May this Christmas find us in touch with our own lowliness that we may have unfettered access to the presence of the Savior Who seeks, as Houselander notes: “a home in your soul, where he can be at rest with you, where he can talk easily to you, where you and he, alone together, can laugh and be silent and be delighted with one another.” 

  1. Pope Benedict says God does not allow Himself to be shut out.  How have you experienced God breaking through to you?
  2. How do you deal with the materialism of Christmas?  Where do you find the balance?  
  3. What is the deepest desire of your heart for this Christmas?  How can you personally prepare for a real encounter with Christ in the intimacy of your own heart?  What is it you need to do?
  4. Who do you most identify with in the Christmas story?  Think of the many characters involved, from the people in Jerusalem who completely missed His coming, or sought to prevent it (Herod), to the shepherds, the wise men, the Holy Family, the angels, etc.  This can change from year to year.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May the Peace and Grace of the Lord Shine Bright Upon You

Divine Intervention: Spiritual Exercise 11/8/21

Please join us Monday 11/8/21 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MT (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm ET) Please ask for technical assistance BEFORE we begin, as the silent reflection is a critical element in the spiritual exercise. Blessings.

Zoom Link: https://us05web.zoom.us/j/4537185699?pwd=emRVOEZwMTY1eGN1bzYrU2VldWhiZz09

Meeting ID: 4537185699

Opening Prayer: The Memorare

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. 

Amen

Divine Intervention

These days, many of us have a common prayer. That would be a prayer for some kind of divine intervention to halt the frightening directions our world seems to be headed in. And what would the ultimate purpose of that intervention be? Simply stopping evil isn’t enough.

When we seriously reflect on it, intervention is something God regularly does in our lives and has done throughout human history while mysteriously respecting our human freedom and entrusting to us a measure of power appropriate to our spheres of activity.  

The Old Testament is replete with examples of divine intervention dramatically recounted in stories like the Flood, the Exodus, the great stories of battles won by drastically outnumbered forces. The greatest of all interventions, the coming of Christ, of God in person into human history is again a striking indication of God’s will to be intimately involved without forcing us in anyway. 

Today we could also characterize the many approved apparitions of Our Lady as examples of Divine Intervention. Likewise, we can consider the Church herself as another example of a divinely inspired gift given to us for all the needs we encounter on our journey back home to the Father. (Pope St. John Paul II called Vatican Council II an intervention of God in human history. And many such events in the Church can be considered likewise.

But another way to look at this is to consider that each of us is meant to be a kind of divine intervention in the time and place in which we live. Each of us is tasked with specific work for the souls of our age, though this is not necessarily something obvious or dramatic in the eyes of the world. The classic Christmas film, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” captures this quite movingly. George Bailey, the main character, is part of a terrible turn of events that brings him to contemplate suicide attempt on Christmas Eve. An angel, albeit a bumbling one (not that there is really such a thing), is sent to help him see the truth. George considers his life a failure because over and over again he has had to give up his dreams to help his family and the community he lives in. But Clarence, (the angel) shows him that he has actually protected and prospered the lives of all those he has served. George is shown what Bedford Falls would have become had he never lived, or if he had made other choices than the ones he did. He sees a town, and his loved ones, shrouded in depressing darkness and oppression, one that did the opposite of prospering. This revelation breaks the grip of his desperation and despair. He rightly comes to understand that he is fulfilling the meaning of the life given to him though till now it has been hidden. 

The measure of our impact is mysterious because what counts in God’s eyes is so different than what we think matters. Mark Twain once famously said: “The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.”  This same lesson was one that Esther from the Old Testament learned and lived in the midst of the threat of the extinction of her people. By Divine Providence, she alone was in a position to intervene. She was encouraged to be faithful to this fearful responsibility by her Uncle Mordecai who reminded her that she herself would not escape the fate of her people if she failed to act. He stressed that it was likely that “for such a time as this” she was born.

In our fears and anxieties for the present age, it is worth remembering that God knew, when He gave us the breath of life, what we would face, both individually (family difficulties, matters of health, etc…) and communally (civil unrest and nations increasingly at odds with each other). Yet He chose this time nonetheless for us to make a difference. The question we must ask ourselves is what that difference is, and how we are going to live it out.

Please take 5-10 minutes for silent reflection

1. The fact is, the impact our lives make is not measured by the difficulties we face or the situation we find ourselves in. God’s grace is not dependent on these kinds of things. In fact, sometimes the worst situations end up bringing down the greatest graces. Can you think of examples of this?  

2. What kinds of positive impact do you think you’ve made in your own life?  God has placed us in many different situations where we have the potential to change things for the better by our presence. What do you think is the key to having a positive effect on others?

3. What is the greatest kind of impact you can have in another’s life?  And how does that affect your own life?

4. Have you ever felt that your life was not meaningful in any important way? How does God want you to see your life?  What does He expect of us really?

May your heart fill with immense love as we journey through November, a month of Holy devotion to all who have passed before us.

Our next session will be during the Blessed Advent Season, on December 13, 2021.  It is almost unbelievable that we will soon embark on Christmastime.  God Bless you.

Love and Blessings