Life is a journey; the choices you make now will determine your eternal destination.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Journey Continued

I am nearing the end of book one of the City of God, (The Conception) and chapter 18 really spoke to me. I have been troubled by my reaction to a person I really don't like, that I am in frequent contact with, and reading this chapter has helped me to realize that these trials are from God, and necessary for the salvation of my soul. I knew that already, but Mary's words to Sister Mary of Jesus enlightened it for me. I am a simple person, and often need things to be spelled out for me before I grasp the concept.

" I wish thee, O soul, to understand that to suffer injuries with equanimity and to pardon them entirely for the Lord, will be more acceptable in His eyes, than if thou choose of thy own will to do the most severe penance and shed thy blood for Him. Humble thyself before those who persecute thee, love them and pray for them from thy true heart; thereby shalt thou turn toward thee in love the heart of thy God and rise to the perfection of holiness, and thou shalt overcome hell in all things. 
That great dragon, who persecutes all men, was confounded many times by my humility and meekness, and his fury could not tolerate the sight of these virtues. I gained great victories for my soul and won glorious triumphs for the exaltation of the Divinity. When any creature rose up against me, I conceived no anger toward it, for I knew in reality it was an instrument of the Most High, directed by His Providence for my special good.  This knowledge and the consideration, that it was a creature of my Lord, capable of grace, excited me to love it truly with a greater fervor, and I did not rest until I could reward this benefit of persecution by obtaining for it eternal life, as far as was possible.
Strive after therefore, and labor for the imitation of that; show thyself most meek, peaceful and agreeable toward those who trouble thee; esteem them truly in thy heart, and do not take vengeance of thy Lord by taking vengeance on His instruments, nor despise the inestimable jewel of injuries. As far as lies in thee, always give good for evil, benefits for injuries, love for hate, praise for blame, blessings for malediction. Then wilt thou be a perfect daughter of thy Father, the beloved spouse of thy Lord, my friend and my most cherished daughter.

This helps me to see in a new light the trials and tribulations in my life, and I hope it will help me to deal with the daily grievances I feel towards certain people. I see that my call to pray for souls must also include the souls of those who trouble me the most.

Monday, February 13, 2012


I found this over at Standing on my Head blog, and he said to share it if we like. This is such a powerful way to accept forgiveness and healing that I had to share.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Finding Forgiveness

This piece was first published over at Integrated Catholic Life. A reader has asked for it to be published here too. If you like it please share.

“I know I have been forgiven because I’ve been to confession, but I don’t feel forgiven!How can I find peace and know that I’m forgiven? ” 
This is one of the most frequent questions I get as a priest. A similar question comes up with the problem of forgiving others, “Father,” the person asks, “my business partner screwed me real bad. I’ve tried to forgive him, and I’ve given it all to God, but I still feel resentment and bitterness. I still want revenge. How can I find peace?”
Assuming that you have already taken the sin to God in the sacrament of reconciliation, the first step to finding the peace of forgiveness is to remember the fact of forgiveness. If you have confessed and received absolution you are forgiven. It’s a fact. The first step is to claim that fact. Make it an act of your will and intellect. You might even say out loud to yourself, “I am forgiven. It’s a fact.” Imagine that resentment, sin, guilt and anger being washed away by a tsunami of God’s mercy.
The next step in finding forgiveness is to take the guilt, the memory, the nagging resentment and bitterness with you to Mass and offer it up.There are various practical ways of doing this. 
First of all you need to ask yourself what Mass is actually for. What’s the purpose of Mass? Many Catholics have never asked that basic question, and if pressed they might say, “It is a chance to worship God together.” or “We come together to sing hymns, praise God and listen to his word and receive the Bread of Life.” or “Mass is the gathering place of the people of God around his Word and his table.”
What’s missing is the idea that Mass is a sacrifice. It is an offering. From the beginning of religious instinct in man the action of worship was the action of sacrifice. Humans offered to God the best gifts they had. However, in the Jewish religion this idea was expanded and the sacrifice also became a sin offering. The effect of sin was death, but the person’s sins were projected on to the animal which was sacrificed, and so the sins were forgiven. The price had been paid.
This primitive idea still lives within the idea of sacrifice of the Mass. The primary meaning of the Mass is that it is an offering of Christ’s once for all sacrifice, and that this offering applies the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice to our lives. Christ’s death was the payment for our sin. Once we see that the Mass is a sacrifice we can participate in the action of the Mass in a new and deeper way.
Therefore, when you come to Mass with a burden of guilt or a nagging desire for revenge or a sense of resentment and anger, you should bring that as part of your offering. See every part of the Mass as part of a greater offering to God.
When you say the confession at the beginning of Mass imagine those resentments, that guilt and that feeling of not being forgiven gathered up into the prayer. When the collection is taken, don’t just put money in the basket--imagine that you are putting your negative feelings in the basket too. When the offertory gifts are brought forward in procession imagine that the person you resent is being brought forward and offered to God. Place all your dark feelings into those gifts being brought forward. Give God your frustration and fear and worry and anxiety. As the priest lifts the bread and wine see him lifting all the unresolved negative emotions to God.
In the action of the Mass the bread is taken, blessed, broken and transformed. So it is with the negative feelings that you offer up. Through the priest God will take them, offer them to God, bless them, break them and then they will be transformed.
To get rid of those negative feelings of not being forgiven see that first of all the priest takes them as you offer them up. Standing in the place of Christ the priest symbolically takes your burdens. As he does, think of Christ Jesus himself saying, “Come to me all who labor and are heavily burdened and I will give you rest.” Through the action of the Mass Christ will take those burdens.
When I say Mass I make a conscious act of the will to bring to the altar all the sins I have heard in the confessional. Of course I don’t remember the individual sins. Instead, in a moment of silent prayer I ask that God will take them and forgive them and remember them no more, and that the penitent will be set free, forgiven and healed.
Then the priest blesses the bread. Imagine that he is blessing the burdens you have. “Bless the burdens?” Yes, the dark times of our life will become blessings as they are transformed by grace. But first, like the bread, they need to be broken. The dark feelings have you in bondage, and as the bread is broken see the bonds being broken. Then the transformation of the bondage into blessing will be completed.
Finally, as you receive the body of Christ imagine that you are receiving in the most powerful way the peace and strength and knowledge of forgiveness from Christ himself.
This “liturgy therapy” might take some time to sink in. If your mind has been circling around and around over particular grievances it is possible that you have got into a destructive mental pattern. This negative downward spiral can only be reversed and countered by repeated positive cycles of receiving God’s forgiveness week by week.
I am convinced that faith works. In other words, our Catholic faith really does bring us to an abundant life--a life that is transformed from the inside out by God’s grace.
Our part is to come to God with an open heart, an open mind and an active will so that as we co operate with his grace we will be transformed into his likeness.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

On the Pope and Kneeling

Here is an excerpt from Pope Benedict on the Theology of kneeling, with a link to the full article below.

The Christian Liturgy is a cosmic Liturgy precisely because it bends the knee before the crucified and exalted Lord. Here is the center of authentic culture - the culture of truth. The humble gesture by which we fall at the feet of the Lord inserts us into the true path of life of the cosmos.
There is much more that we might add. For example, there is the touching story told by Eusebius in his history of the Church as a tradition going back to Hegesippus in the second century. Apparently, Saint James, the "brother of the Lord", the first bishop of Jerusalem and "head" of the Jewish Christian Church, had a kind of callous on his knees, because he was always on his knees worshipping God and begging forgiveness for his people (2, 23, 6). Again, there is a story that comes from the sayings of the Desert Fathers, according to which the devil was compelled by God to show himself to a certain Abba Apollo. He looked black and ugly, with frighteningly thin limbs, but most strikingly, he had no knees. The inability to kneel is seen as the very essence of the diabolical.
But I do not want to go into more detail. I should like to make just one more remark. The expression used by Saint Luke to describe the kneeling of Christians (theis ta gonata) is unknown in classical Greek. We are dealing here with a specifically Christian word. With that remark, our reflections turn full circle to where they began. It may well be that kneeling is alien to modern culture -- insofar as it is a culture, for this culture has turned away from the faith and no longer knows the one before whom kneeling is the right, indeed the intrinsically necessary gesture. The man who learns to believe learns also to kneel, and a faith or a liturgy no longer familiar with kneeling would be sick at the core. Where it has been lost, kneeling must be rediscovered, so that, in our prayer, we remain in fellowship with the apostles and martyrs, in fellowship with the whole cosmos, indeed in union with Jesus Christ Himself.