Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Lord, I am not worthy...

File:San Leocadio Christ with the Host.JPG


Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof,
but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

This response at Mass seems to me to sum up the whole spiritual life. It provides wonderful material for meditation.

I am not worthy

On my own, I cannot please God. I can only vaguely know His character. He had to reveal Himself to me through Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the teaching authority of the Church. He gave me parents who were loving enough to have me baptized and teach me the faith. He continues to show me His design for my life. All this is a pure gift which I could not merit.

But I have found the Christian life to be a constant battle. I fall every day. I repent, make resolutions to be good, then sin again. God’s purity is so beyond me. His holiness is a burning fire that I would never dare approach.

Except…


Read the rest at Contemplative Homeschool.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Camerado, I Give You My Hand



This week's activity on The Catholic Book Blogger revolved around the latest release by Image Catholic Books Camerado, I Give You My Hand by Maura Poston Zagrans. This is the inspirational story of Father David Link. A widower become priest who now works in prison ministry in Indiana. Visit the links below for my review, author interview and giveaway.

Book review here.

Author interview with Maura Poston Zagrans here

Enter here to win a copy of  Camerado, I Give You My Hand

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

DO WE TRUST MORE IN THE POWER OF GOD OR THE DEVIL?

Mary Crushes Satan - We cannot allow fear of the devil and deception to be stronger than our trust in God’s Mercy and Grace. Fear freezes us, often preventing the inner spiritual journey that leads to fullness of life in Christ. 
As Catholics, we are often leery of personal revelation. Of course we should be cautious but what are we so worried about? The Church protects us with the gift of confession, the mystical tradition of the Church, spiritual direction and encourages us to study the bible. All theses tools act as personal sign posts and safe guards. Like all  Christians, Catholics  have received the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth.
Why don’t we, as Catholics,  give the Holy Spirit permission to do His job? The Holy Spirit is our inner Companion who leads us; we do not  live in fear of  spiritual revelations. Many of God the Father’s children are so afraid that the devil will lead them astray, they do not even listen to His interior whispers of love. Surely we trust more in God  the Almighty, ruler of heaven and earth than a mere fallen angel?
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” John 16:13
What a conundrum in the Body of Christ. I cannot helping feeling sorry for our Lord as I observe the discord between His children. Catholics mistrust revelations of other Christians and Protestants often think that Catholics are open to the occult by praying to Mary and the Saints. They even wonder if we are  saved! Let’s not behave like arrogant Pharisees but humbly trust solely in God to lead and teach us as His children and leave condemnation to the Evil One.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
III. THE GIFTS AND FRUITS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The moral life of Christians is sustained by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are permanent dispositions which make man docile in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David.109 They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations.
Let your good spirit lead me on a level path. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God . . . If children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ
Often  Christians must simply acknowledge that we cannot intellectually grasp all heavenly mysteries. We  choose to continue our walk in, with, and through the Holy Spirit, trusting in God without fear of making a mistake. We cannot allow fear of the devil and deception to be stronger than our trust in God’s Mercy and Grace. Fear freezes us, often preventing the inner spiritual journey that leads to fullness of life in Christ. Trust me, I know what fear can do to a person. Now I realize that God the Father will bring me into the light; He will lead me into all truth.
I once attended a retreat where a Madonna House priest, actually Archbishop Raya, the Archbishop of Lebanon, said something like this:
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes because Jesus will wash you clean and then tell you to go play again. He does not say, “Stand in the corner and don’t you dare get dirty again.” Just like a mother, he bathes a dirty child and then tells him to go outside and play again.
Trust more in God’s power to guide than the Devil’s to deceive.






Sunday, August 18, 2013

Everyday Meditations by Bl John Henry Newman

This week at The Catholic Book Blogger, I have a great little book to give away. Sophia Institute Press is sponsoring this weeks giveaway and one lucky winner gets a copy of this book. Small in size, and a total of 166 pages, this book can easily be carried with you and used in a variety of settings. It would work well for daily prayer or Eucharistic Adoration. Any manner in which it is used will certainly help you grow spiritually.
Click here to see contest details and for a link to my full review.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Reconsidering the Assumption

The Dormition of the Theotokis by Svitozar Nenyuk


The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the feast when the Church commemorates Mary's assumption of body and soul into heaven. As the young Immaculate Virgin said yes to God's call, her body was the first temple for the Son of God. Catholics believe that Mary's holy body now enjoys full union with her Son in eternal glory.

Taylor Marshall wrote an interesting essay "Did the Virgin Mary Die?  The Answer May Surprise You" which sought to use art, iconography and writings of the Early Church Fathers to clear up any ambiguities from Pope Venerable Pius XII's dogmatic declaration  Munificentissimus Deus (1950). Marshall concluded that Mary was laid in the tomb and hear death when her soul was detached from her earthly body but that her Assumption from living a sinless life that was totally oriented towards Christ that the Lord allowed for the Assumption of her body into heaven.  Moreover, Marshall concluded that sin Mary died without sin that she was given dominion over Purgatory as prophesized in Ecclesiastes 24. 

Orthodox Christianity also revere the end of Mary's life on earth. In the Eastern Churches, The Dormition of the Theotokis or, to use more contemporary parlance, "the Falling Asleep of the God-bearer" is sn as a transformation of Mary's life into a heavenly and immortal existence without the shadows of gloom or death.

There is a persistent legend among Orthodox Christian believers that all of the disciples, save Thomas who was preaching in India, were present for Mary's dormition and burial. These disciples were said to guard the tomb for three days. On the third day, Thomas saw Mary's body rising to heaven. Mary greeted him as "My friend" as Thomas was escorted by angels to proclaim the assumption. This tradition echos the Church of Jerusalem's sense that Mary's dormition had a deep sense of the resurrection.

Marshall's musing that Mary's death involved separation of her soul from her body as well as appreciating the Assumption compliments the Eastern Christian's notions of the Dormition of Mary. 


Sola Scriptura Protestants probably have problems with theology premised on this Dormition tradition, particularly on practices not christologically focused. However, the Early Church clearly revered this dormition/assumption before the scriptural canon was determined. The solemnity is not a quasi-deitization of Mary but a recognition of her place in salvific history and points to Christ.



Pope Francis meets with Coptic Orthodox Pope  Tawadros II
One of the lesser appreciated virtues of Vatican II is for the Roman Catholic Church to appreciate the riches from the Eastern Church. It is worth noting that when Pope Francis (as Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio) was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he also acted as the Ordinary of the Eastern Rite Catholics in the region. Cardinal Bergoligio was known for trying to close the 1000 year estrangement with the Orthodox Christianity and advocated on behalf of the Orthodox while in dialogue with the Argentine government. So it would not be surprising if Pope Francis' papacy features more appreciation of the riches of Christian faith from the East.


Prayer for the Assumption of Mary
Father in heaven,
all creation rightly gives you praise,
for all life and all holiness come from you.
In the plan of your wisdom
she who bore the Christ in her womb
was raised body and soul in glory to be with him in heaven.
May we follow her example in reflecting your holiness
and join in her hymn of endless love and praise.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.
 

What the Assumption means for you

File:Virgin Mary - Diego Velazquez.jpg


August 15 is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven, a Holy Day of Obligation. We celebrate the fact that God took Mary bodily into Heaven. But why did the Church make this a feast? Why is it important for your life?

Mary shows us our destiny

 

Unlike Christ, Mary was a mere human to whom God gave special graces. When Jesus took His mother into Heaven, body and soul, He showed us what is in store for those who die in a state of grace.  At the end of time, He will raise us bodily from the dead. The faithful will have glorified bodies in Heaven. We will not be ghosts for all eternity. We will be complete, perfect versions of ourselves. This is one reason prayers like the Salve Regina call Mary our “hope.”

Mary shows us our purpose

 

God made us to be united with Him in love. In her death, bodily resurrection, and Assumption, Mary embraced Christ’s mission. Since she was free from original and actual sin, Mary did not have to die. The Church has not defined infallibly that Mary died, but the general consensus of Church Fathers, along with the Church’s Liturgy, teaches that she did. In choosing to follow her Son’s example as closely as possible, she most likely chose to participate in our redemption through dying like He did.

God calls us to be conformed to Christ as well. We must die because of original sin. However, we can unite our suffering and death to Christ’s and help to advance the salvation of the world. We can also choose to die to ourselves in the course of ordinary events.


Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Educate your kids for divine union

File:Anton Francesco dello Scheggia - The Seven Virtues - Google Art Project.jpg


Through prayer and study, I’ve created a list of the elements of an education that I think best starts children on this road. Divine union comes through living a life of prayer and virtue. So, generally speaking, we want to teach about prayer and virtue, model them, and practice them with our children. But we also want a home and a school environment that is conducive to prayer and virtuous living.

Prayer requires leisure

 

The Greek work schole, from which “school” comes, means “not-at-work time.” In classical society, school was a leisure activity, a pursuit of wisdom that had little to do with the workaday world. The truest education is free or liberal. It is not “useful” in a utilitarian sense. It is not servile. It is learning about things that are valuable in themselves, rather than means to obtain what we desire.

I wrote about leisure’s importance several months ago. Besides the suggestions you can read in my previous post, teach your kids to have an attitude of openness to learning and to God. Humility is one of the most important virtues to cultivate. Teach them to ask, seek, and knock. Show them that learning is a lifetime venture. Only God has all the answers. Continue learning yourself, especially about the faith. Model awe. Teach your children proper respect.

Try to bring these fundamental questions to each subject: What is man? What is my purpose in life? Discuss them in math, science, literature, art–even physical education. Orient everything towards our highest good.

Contrary to the notion popular in our culture, leisure is not the same thing as entertainment. True leisure never leaves us as spectators. It requires us to participate with our minds, hearts, or bodies. True leisure is time to think, to imagine, and to love. For kids especially, that also means time to play.


Continue reading at  Contemplative Homeschool.