This makes me think… EVERYone is called to be HOLY

The Lord Jesus, the divine Teacher and Model of all perfection, preached holiness of life to each and everyone of His disciples of every condition. He Himself stands as the author and consumator of this holiness of life: “Be you therefore perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect”.(216) Indeed He sent the Holy Spirit upon all men that He might move them inwardly to love God with their whole heart and their whole soul, with all their mind and all their strength(217) and that they might love each other as Christ loves them.(218) The followers of Christ are called by God, not because of their works, but according to His own purpose and grace. They are justified in the Lord Jesus, because in the baptism of faith they truly become sons of God and sharers in the divine nature. In this way they are really made holy. Then too, by God’s gift, they must hold on to and complete in their lives this holiness they have received. They are warned by the Apostle to live “as becomes saints”,(219) and to put on “as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, patience”,(220) and to possess the fruit of the Spirit in holiness.(221) Since truly we all offend in many things (222) we all need God’s mercies continually and we all must daily pray: “Forgive us our debts”(223)

Thus it is evident to everyone, that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity; by this holiness as such a more human manner of living is promoted in this earthly society. In order that the faithful may reach this perfection, they must use their strength accordingly as they have received it, as a gift from Christ. They must follow in His footsteps and conform themselves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. They must devote themselves with all their being to the glory of God and the service of their neighbor. In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history.

 The classes and duties of life are many, but holiness is one—that sanctity which is cultivated by all who are moved by the Spirit of God, and who obey the voice of the Father and worship God the Father in spirit and in truth. These people follow the poor Christ, the humble and cross-bearing Christ in order to be worthy of being sharers in His glory. Every person must walk unhesitatingly according to his own personal gifts and duties in the path of living faith, which arouses hope and works through charity.

In the first place, the shepherds of Christ’s flock must holily and eagerly, humbly and courageously carry out their ministry, in imitation of the eternal high Priest, the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls. They ought to fulfill this duty in such a way that it will be the principal means also of their own sanctification. Those chosen for the fullness of the priesthood are granted the ability of exercising the perfect duty of pastoral charity by the grace of the sacrament of Orders. This perfect duty of pastoral charity  is exercised in every form of episcopal care and service, prayer, sacrifice and preaching. By this same sacramental grace, they are given the courage necessary to lay down their lives for their sheep, and the ability of promoting greater holiness in the Church by their daily example, having become a pattern for their flock.(224)

Priests, who resemble bishops to a certain degree in their participation of the sacrament of Orders, form the spiritual crown of the bishops. They participate in the grace of their office and they should grow daily in their love of God and their neighbor by the exercise of their office through Christ, the eternal and unique Mediator. They should preserve the bond of priestly communion, and they should abound in every spiritual good and thus present to all men a living witness to God. All this they should do in emulation of those priests who often, down through the course of the centuries, left an outstanding example of the holiness of humble and hidden service. Their praise lives on in the Church of God. By their very office of praying and offering sacrifice for their own people and the entire people of God, they should rise to greater holiness. Keeping in mind what they are doing and imitating what they are handling, these priests, in their apostolic labors, rather than being ensnared by perils and hardships, should rather rise to greater holiness through these perils and hardships. They should ever nourish and strengthen their action from an abundance of contemplation, doing all this for the comfort of the entire Church of God. All priests, and especially those who are called “diocesan priests,” due to the special title of their ordination, should keep continually before their minds the fact that their faithful loyalty toward and their generous cooperation with their bishop is of the greatest value in their growth in holiness.

Ministers of lesser rank are also sharers in the mission and grace of the Supreme Priest. In the first place among these ministers are deacons, who, in as much as they are dispensers of Christ’s mysteries and servants of the Church, should keep themselves free from every vice and stand before men as personifications of goodness and friends of God.(225) Clerics, who are called by the Lord and are set aside as His portion in order to prepare themselves for the various ministerial offices under the watchful eye of spiritual shepherds, are bound to bring their hearts and minds into accord with this special election (which is theirs). They will accomplish this by their constancy in prayer, by their burning love, and by their unremitting recollection of whatever is true, just and of good repute. They will accomplish all this for the glory and honor of God. Besides these already named, there are also laymen, chosen of God and called by the bishop. These laymen spend themselves completely in apostolic labors, working the Lord’s field with much success.

Furthermore, married couples and Christian parents should follow their own proper path (to holiness) by faithful love. They should sustain one another in grace throughout the entire length of their lives. They should embue their offspring, lovingly welcomed as God’s gift, with Christian doctrine and the evangelical virtues. In this manner, they offer all men the example of unwearying and generous love; in this way they build up the brotherhood of charity; in so doing, they stand as the witnesses and cooperators in the fruitfulness of Holy Mother Church; by such lives, they are a sign and a participation in that very love, with which Christ loved His Bride and for which He delivered Himself up for her. A like example, but one given in a different way, is that offered by widows and single people, who are able to make great contributions toward holiness and apostolic endeavor in the Church. Finally, those who engage in labor—and frequently it is of a heavy nature—should better themselves by their human labors. They should be of aid to their fellow citizens. They should raise all of society, and even creation itself, to a better mode of existence. Indeed, they should imitate by their lively charity, in their joyous hope and by their voluntary sharing of each others’ burdens, the very Christ who plied His hands with carpenter’s tools and Who in union with His Father, is continually working for the salvation of all men. In this, then, their daily work they should climb to the heights of holiness and apostolic activity.

May all those who are weighed down with poverty, infirmity and sickness, as well as those who must bear various hardships or who suffer persecution for justice sake—may they all know they are united with the suffering Christ in a special way for the salvation of the world. The Lord called them blessed in His Gospel and they are those whom “the God of all graces, who has called us unto His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself, after we have suffered a little while, perfect, strengthen and establish”.(226)

Finally all Christ’s faithful, whatever be the conditions, duties and circumstances of their lives—and indeed through all these, will daily increase in holiness, if they receive all things with faith from the hand of their heavenly Father and if they cooperate with the divine will. In this temporal service, they will manifest to all men the love with which God loved the world.

 ”God is love, and he who abides in love, abides in God and God in Him”.(227) But, God pours out his love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, Who has been given to us;(228) thus the first and most necessary gift is love, by which we love God above all things and our neighbor because of God. Indeed, in order that love, as good seed may grow and bring forth fruit in the soul, each one of the faithful must willingly hear the Word of God and accept His Will, and must complete what God has begun by their own actions with the help of God’s grace. These actions consist in the use of the sacraments and in a special way the Eucharist, frequent participation in the sacred action of the Liturgy, application of oneself to prayer, self-abnegation, lively fraternal service and the constant exercise of all the virtues. For charity, as the bond of perfection and the fullness of the law,(229) rules over all the means of attaining holiness and gives life to these same means. It is charity which guides us to our final end. It is the love of God and the love of one’s neighbor which points out the true disciple of Christ.

Since Jesus, the Son of God, manifested His charity by laying down His life for us, so too no one has greater love than he who lays down his life for Christ and His brothers.(230) From the earliest times, then, some Christians have been called upon—and some will always be called upon—to give the supreme testimony of this love to all men, but especially to persecutors. The Church, then, considers martyrdom as an exceptional gift and as the fullest proof of love. By martyrdom a disciple is transformed into an image of his Master by freely accepting death for the salvation of the world—as well as his conformity to Christ in the shedding of his blood. Though few are presented such an opportunity, nevertheless all must be prepared to confess Christ before men. They must be prepared to make this profession of faith even in the midst of persecutions, which will never be lacking to the Church, in following the way of the cross.

Likewise, the holiness of the Church is fostered in a special way by the observance of the counsels proposed in the Gospel by Our Lord to His disciples. An eminent position among these is held by virginity or the celibate state.(231) This is a precious gift of divine grace given by the Father to certain souls,(232) whereby they may devote themselves to God alone the more easily, due to an undivided heart.  This perfect continency, out of desire for the kingdom of heaven, has always been held in particular honor in the Church. The reason for this was and is that perfect continency for the love of God is an incentive to charity, and is certainly a particular source of spiritual fecundity in the world.

The Church continually keeps before it the warning of the Apostle which moved the faithful to charity, exhorting them to experience personally what Christ Jesus had known within Himself. This was the same Christ Jesus, who “emptied Himself, taking the nature of a slave . . . becoming obedient to death”,(233) and because of us “being rich, he became poor”.(234) Because the disciples must always offer an imitation of and a testimony to the charity and humility of Christ, Mother Church rejoices at finding within her bosom men and women who very closely follow their Saviour who debased Himself to our comprehension. There are some who, in their freedom as sons of God, renounce their own wills and take upon themselves the state of poverty. Still further, some become subject of their own accord to another man, in the matter of perfection for love of God. This is beyond the measure of the commandments, but is done in order to become more fully like the obedient Christ.

Therefore, all the faithful of Christ are invited to strive for the holiness and perfection of their own proper state. Indeed they have an obligation to so strive. Let all then have care that they guide aright their own deepest sentiments of soul. Let neither the use of the things of this world nor attachment to riches, which is against the spirit of evangelical poverty, hinder them in their quest for perfect love. Let them heed the admonition of the Apostle to those who use this world; let them not come to terms with this world; for this world, as we see it, is passing away.(235)

-Lumen Gentium, 40, 41, 42-

 

Footnotes:

216 Mt. 5:48.

217 Cf. Mk. 12:30.

218 Cf. Jn. 13.34; 15:12.

219 Eph. 5:3.

220 Col . 3:12.

221 Cf. Gal. 5:22; Rom. 6:22.

222 Cf. Jas. 3:2.

223 1 Mt. 6:12.

224 Cf. 1 Pt. 5:3.

225 Cf. 1 Tim. 3:8-10 and 12-1

226 1 Pt. 5:10.

227 1 Jn. 4:16.

228 Cf. Rom. 5:5.

229 Cf. Col. 3:14; Rom. 13:10.

230 Cf. 1 Jn. 3:16; Jn. 15:13.

231 Cf 1 Cor. 7:32-34.

232 Cf Mt. 19:11; 1 Cor.7:7.

233 Phil. 2:7-8.

234 2 Cor. 8:9.

235 Cf 1. Cor. 7:31ff.

 

This makes me think… every sin can be forgiven

There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive.

“There is no one, however wicked and guilty, who may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided his repentance is honest.” [Roman Catechism I, 11, 5.]

Christ who died for all men desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open to anyone who turns away from sin.

- Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 982 -

 

[Bold emphasis mine]

This makes me think… “discouragement causes souls to be lost”

Humble people persevere in the life of prayer without presumption and without relying on themselves. They don’t consider anything their due, don’t consider themselves able to do anything by their own strength, aren’t surprised to find that they have difficulties, weaknesses, and constant falls, but put up with all these peacefully, without making much of them, because they place all their hope in God and are certain that they will obtain from God’s mercy all that they are powerless to do or merit for themselves.

Humble people are never discouraged because they trust not in themselves but in God. Ultimately, that is what really matters. “It is discouragement that causes souls to be lost,” says Father Libermann. True humility and trust always go hand-in-hand.

For example, we must never let ourselves become discouraged over our lukewarmness or the realization of how little we love God. Beginners in the spiritual life, on reading the lives of the saints or their writings, may sometimes feel downhearted in the face of burning expressions of love for God they find there, so far beyond anything they themselves feel. This is a very common temptation. Let us preserver in good will and trust: God himself will give us the love with which we can love him. Strong, burning love for God does not come naturally. It is infused in our heart by the Holy Spirit, who will be given to us if we ask him with the persistence of the wide in the Gospel. It is not always those who feel the most fervent at the start who go furthest in the spiritual life — far from it, in fact!

- Fr Jacques Philippe, Time for God -

 

 

The F.U.N. Quotient… doggy edition

The warm weather cannot arrive fast enough. But we can enjoy ice cream anytime!

And why settle for some of a cone, when you can order the whole thing?

This makes me think… about how prayer fuels evangelization

The key to sharing your faith is living always in the presence of God. In the first place this means living a sacramental life of frequent Communion and regular confession. You must also have an active prayer life. Being aware of God’s presence in your life means you will always be asking, “Lord, what do YOU want me to do in this situation?” And I must tell you that living in the presence of God is essential in order to practice virtue and to keep away from sin.

The Catholic Church needs laypeople who want to live in the presence of God, who know the truths of the Faith, and who are willing and able to share them with others. I often tell the story of a five-year-old boy I met at a conference. He tugged on my pants leg and asked, “Hey, mister, do you know who made you?”

“Yes.”

“Who?”

I answered, “God made me.”

“That’s right,” he beamed, “and God made me, too!”

This little fellow had just learned the answer to his first catechism question and was already sharing it with others! The point is that 99 percent of the Church that is laypeople all need to be like that little boy: ready, willing, and able to share our Faith… there is no substitute for personal contact. One-on-one evangelization is very powerful.

-Terry Barber-

How to Share Your Faith with Anyone

This makes me think… about the impact of faith on culture

Faith and culture have to meet. By their active involvement in society, Christians are able to influence their culture in a better, more authentic and more incisive way. 

By the Incarnation, the Son of God took on human nature and inserted himself into a concrete and particular culture, people, language, forms of expression and rituals of celebration.

The Christian has to learn from the Incarnation to be a legitimate and authentic child of his time, his people, his society, his country. The Gospel has the power to give life to a culture. 

+Cardinal Francis Arinze
The Layperson’s Distinctive Role

This makes me think… what is really pressing on my calendar, and what is not…

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 

For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? 

For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done.

-Matthew 16:24-27-

 

 

This makes me think… about mercy

‘Blessed are the merciful, for God shall have mercy on them [Mt 5:7].’ Remember, Christian, the surpassing worth of the wisdom that is yours. Bear in mind the kind of school in which you are to learn your skills, the rewards to which you are called. Mercy itself wishes you to be merciful, righteousness itself wishes you to be righteous, so that the Creator may shine forth in his creature, and the image of God be reflected in the mirror of the human heart as it imitates his qualities. The faith of those who live their faith is a serene faith. What you long for will be given you; what you love will be yours for ever.

-Pope St Leo the Great-
Excerpt from Homily 95 on The Beatitudes, 

This makes me think… about reading the Bible every day in order to know Jesus better

Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him: “If you continue in my word, you will be my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”

John 8: 31-32

 

O my soul, if you want to be enlightened and instructed, you must not read the Book of Life hastily or superficially, but slowly and attentively; then you will be inflamed with divine love and you will know the truth.
-St Angela of Foligno-

This makes me think… about the particular love God has for each us…

Da Vinci painted one Mona Lisa.
Beethoven composed one Fifth Symphony.
And God made one version of you…

We exist to exhibit God, to display His glory.

We serve as canvases for His brushstroke, papers for His pen, soil for His seeds, glimpses of His image.

–Max Lucado, Cure for the Common Life

I write about the enormous blessing of being made in the image of God in my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious. You can read an excerpt on Amazon.