Monthly Presentations, Monthly Spiritual Exercise Group, Updates

Discernment in the Modern Age (An evening retreat with Sr. Anne Marie)

July 8, 2019 at 6:30 pm, mountain time.

Please Call 720-735-7025 to join the conference about 5 minutes ahead of time. You can also join from your computer https://www.uberconference.com/m/facingourimmortality

OPENING HEALING PRAYER Led by Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, SOLT

“We humbly approach you O Most Holy Trinity as we beg for your healing. You are Our Father and we trust in your goodness as you draw us daily to become what you call us to be. We humble ourselves before you as we acknowledge your greatness and your infinite mercy. Please dispel within us any form of idolatry that we may truly worship you with all our being, as Mary our Mother did. 

Jesus, our eternal shepherd, we come to you like the many sick and the infirm that approached you. We beg you to fill our hearts and our souls with the faith of the Centurion who only asked you to say but the word, and he knew that his servant would be healed. Or like the woman, we come to touch your garments with great confidence that your healing power will flow through this cloth to the one it is placed upon now. For those of us who struggle with believing in your power to heal, we pray that you help our unbelief. 

Holy Spirit, we rely on the humility that you give us as we bring our request before your presence. We often do not know what to ask and how to ask. Often we struggle with knowing what God’s will is for one who is sick. Yet we know that it is your love that can enkindle the flame within our feeble hearts. Help us to accept the healing that comes from your love; so that we may praise the glory of your Name! 

We ask you Mother Mary to intercede with all the angels and saints for God’s healing of those who are sick. Cast your mantle of healing over them and restore them to wholeness and health.”  

“Our Father, who art in heaven…”

“Hail Mary, full of grace……….”

“Glory Be, to the Father ……….”

“Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity! Pray for us.”

Presentation:

One of the banes of modern life is the ubiquitous presence of bad entertainment, bad both in the sense of poorly crafted and in the sense of poisonous content. It’s an observation that can be applied to books, movies, music, TV, and other forms of leisure activity as well. What constitutes healthy food for the mind and soul? We have great concern for the health of our bodies and our environment. And we feed them and protect them accordingly. At the same time, we seem to have much less conscious concern for what goes into our minds, our souls, our spirits. We simply consume whatever is offered, no longer recognizing the difference between junk food and delicacy, nutrients and toxins.

This can be very dangerous. It’s a lot like seeing a glass of cold, refreshing water, after coming in on a hot, dusty day. The reaction is immediate, and almost overwhelming. We would, without thinking, take the water and drink it. But if someone told us that despite it’s inviting appearance, the water actually had e-coli in it, we would not approach it, much less drink it, no matter how thirsty we were, knowing it would be hazardous to our health.

This is very much like what happens when we indiscriminately read or watch whatever is the latest rage, whether it be fictional stories, movies, TV shows that mock God, believers, our faith, or current book marketings of pornography (now particularly targeting women’s readership). So many times people say: “it’s not so bad. It’s just a little sex, or just a little violence, or just a little language.”

The reality though is that it doesn’t matter whether the poison is hidden in small amounts. A little poison will kill you just as dead over time. When our emotions, our passions, our senses, apart from our intellect, make our decisions for us, we are capable of drinking to the dregs whatever contaminant is presented to us. And today, very deadly poisons abound. Our culture prizes acceptance, tolerance and open-mindedness. It has been noted though that the danger comes when people become so open-minded their brains fall out. Pope Benedict mentioned that knowledge for its own sake only leads to sadness, and sometimes to much worse things.

This is not a new problem. The young St. Teresa of Avila had an attraction to the romance/adventure novels of her time, until she realized that the illusions, vanity and worldliness they sowed in her were a great obstacle to her life in general and to her relationship with God in particular. They did not help her live in reality and especially in the reality of her dignity as a woman, a beloved daughter of God with a great destiny, a great part to play in the life of the Church and the world.

St. Ignatius of Loyola, Founder of the Jesuits, also had this problem before his conversion. He is famous for realizing how the books he read affected the movements of his soul, for better or worse. While recovering from a serious battle injury, he began to recognize that the worldly books he was fond of, and which also fed his vanity, gave him a feeling of excitement which quickly passed and left him feeling discontented and restless. On the other hand, when he read books on the lives of the saints and their great deeds, he found himself inspired and filled with a desire to follow their example. These feelings did not change. From this simple observation St. Ignatius developed his principles for discernment, which are now indispensable teachings for anyone serious about the spiritual life.

We of course need discernment in many areas of our lives. And because we live in a complicated age, it is good to look for some general direction. One place to find this is back at the very beginning. God gave some very simple directions for life in the Garden, and repeated them again after the fall, through Moses. He told Adam and Eve that they could eat from the Tree of Life and the other trees in the Garden, but not of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Later, He reiterated this directive again to the Israelites in Exodus, “Choose life that you may live.”

In all honesty, when our question becomes: “Is what I am about to say or see or do, life-giving to me and those around me” we are able to frame issues in a new light. This is not the only question we sometimes need to ask. But it is a very good place to start and finish. Is this life-giving or is this poison to me, to my relationships, to my own dignity or someone else’s dignity? It is a question that can be used with many of the choices we should make today with more deliberation than we do. And it is a question that avoids the dissembling of moral relativism. Something is either life-giving to all involved, or it is not. If it is not, it is to be avoided.

God’s commandments and the Church’s counsels are not meant to cramp our style or dampen our fun. They are simply meant to protect us. God knows what is good, what is healthy for us. And He also knows what will make us sick in body, mind and spirit. Technology and the creative powers of mankind in many different fields have the potential to serve life or to bring death, both physical and spiritual death, depending on how they are used. If we truly want to live and live well the abundant life Jesus promises us, then we have to stop starving our own souls and start discerning how to eat more plentifully from the Tree of Life.

Questions for Reflection:

1. Where in my life am I eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil instead of the Tree of Life?

2. What kinds of things does a person dealing with serious illness need to discern? Physically, spiritually, emotionally, psychologically?

3. What feeds me emotionally and spiritually when I am suffering or deeply challenged by life?

4. Have I ever sensed the mission and purpose of my life? If so, how have the challenges of illness and suffering impacted that?

5. Has illness or suffering changed my vision of what is life-giving and what is not?

Our next call will take place August 12, 2019.  We will not be meeting at Lourdes Parish.  Thank you and may God Bless you abundantly.

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