Thursday, April 30, 2015

March 2015 Reflection for Year of Consecrated Life

Reflections for Year of Consecrated Life    March 9. 2015

“Praise the Lord, all nations!  Praise him, all peoples!  His love for us is strong, and his faithfulness is eternal.  Praise the Lord!”    (Psalm 117)

After writing THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL, Pope Francis asked consecrated men and women to ponder some questions.   This reflection paper deals with: 
how can I break free from this “culture of the temporary”?   
Other questions akin to it: Do I allow spiritual worldliness to attract me?  Am I comfortable in my Christian life, in my priestly life, in my religious life, and also in my community life?  Do I retain the forces of restlessness for God, for his Word that make me “step out” of myself toward others?

Most of us in the northern hemisphere are bombarded with consumer values and an efficiency mentality.  Conversely, we are all called to solidarity with nature as well as with people.  Perhaps a daily examen could include how careful I am with the resources of the earth and realize the affect a consumer society has on me.   Our style of life calls us to be detached from earthly goods.    This includes leaving my comfort zone and sharing my “personal time” with others.   We can be a sign of contradiction to individualism.

Pope Francis echoes the sentiments of Paul VI and John Paul II when he reminds us that we can become distracted or carried away by temptations to gather or keep things beyond our real need.  When we become satisfied and comfortable, it can be difficult to be free enough to:  “love and be loved by all those given us in community and ministry.  Our chastity should find expression in warm and selfless love of others.” (1)   As Missionary Servants we follow in the footsteps of the apostles who imitate the poverty of Jesus.  We are inspired to be courageous in being “totally dependent upon the providence of God, to be subject to the common law of labor, to heed the cry of the poor and to live simply, holding all things in common in our respective institutes.” (2)  We are well advised.

Consecrated religious are to be signs to society by taking a stand against anti-gospel values.   We are to give a “radical gift of self for the love of God and, in him, of every member of the human family.” (3)   This exhortation also reminds us that we are to bear witness to God’s marvelous works in both words and ‘by the eloquent language of a transfigured life…” (4)  So, I ask myself, have I become transfigured in attitude, actions and words so that people are reminded of God’s beauty and goodness? 

Thirty years ago, the American Bishops suggested adopting fasting and abstinence on Fridays for peace or the conversion of hearts.   We can personally opt to fast or abstain from whatever would be most helpful in growing closer to God and our neighbor, and we can opt to do it on a periodic basis.  Fr. Judge reminds us that we need not be jealous of the saints who did great good because we have many opportunities in our own lives.  Just think of the “idle hours” we spend each week, he writes. We might need to pray for more of the spirit of sacrifice. (5)

During this Year of Consecrated Life, we can more intentionally continue our formation.  No longer is formation for those in the first few years in community.  Rather, it is on-going, and each religious needs to deepen in understanding and commitment in “sharing in the work of the Father who, through the Spirit, fashions in the heart the inner attitudes of the Son.”  (6)

(1)   RULE OF LIFE, no. 25
(2)   Ibid. no 28
(3)   Vita Consecrata, no. 3
(4)   Ibid. no. 20
(6)   Vita consecrate, no. 66

A prayerful ending:             Psalm 131

O Lord, my heart is not proud,                    
Nor are my eyes haughty                              
I busy not myself with great things              
Nor with things too sublime for me.             
Nay rather, I have stilled and quieted
my soul like a weaned child,
so is my soul within me.   
O Israel, hope in the Lord,                                                                
Both now and forever.

Mark 8: 34-36
He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.  What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”

Prayerful thought:
God has created me to do for him some definite service; he has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another.  I have my mission…I am a link in a chain, a connection between people.  God has not created me for nothing.  I shall do good, I shall do his work; I shall be a preacher of truth in my own place, which not intending it, if I do but keep his commandments and serve him in my calling.

                                                                                              J. H. Newman

Blessed be the Holy and Undivided Trinity
now and forever! Amen!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Reflection on the Year of Consecrated Life April 2015

Reflection on the Year of Consecrated Life
April 2015

Opening Song: Center of my Life Paul Inwood  

Opening Prayer:
O my God, infinitely amiable and adorable
My Creator, my Redeemer and my Sanctifier
My first beginning and my last end
I come now before you in prayer. Hear me, O Lord.

Psalm 27 (7-14)
When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,
“Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me, do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
But the LORD will take me up.
Teach me Your way, O LORD,
And lead me in a level path because of my foes.
Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries,
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the LORD Glory be to the Father…
Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm; For stern as death is love,
relentless as the nether world is devotion; its flames are a blazing fire.
Deep waters cannot quench love, nor floods sweep it away.
Were one to offer all he owns to purchase love, he would be roundly mocked. Song of Songs 8: 6-7

Starting afresh from Christ:
A Renewed Commitment to Consecrated Life in the Third June 14, 2002
#8 Consecrated women and men have received a call to a “new and special consecration”, for the good of the Church, which impels them to live a life in imitation of Christ, the Virgin, and the Apostles with impassioned love. In our world this lifestyle stresses the urgency of a prophetic witness which entails “the affirmation of the primacy of God and of eternal life, as evidenced in the following and imitation of the chaste, poor and obedient Christ, who was completely consecrated to the glory of God and to the love of his brethren”.
Consecrated persons extend a persuasive invitation to reflect upon the primacy of grace and to respond to it through a generous spiritual commitment. Despite widespread secularization, there is a widespread demand for spirituality which is often expressed as a renewed need for prayer. Life’s events, even in their ordinariness, present themselves as challenges which should be seen in light of conversation. The dedication of consecrated persons to the service of an evangelical quality of life contributes to the keeping alive in many ways the spiritual practices among the Christian people. Religious communities increasingly seek to be places for hearing and sharing the Word, for liturgical celebration, for the teaching of prayer, and for accompaniment through spiritual direction. Thus, even without realizing it, this help given to others offers mutual advantages.

Rule of Life #23
Christ calls us to follow him with liberty of spirit and to share in his emptying of self for others (Phil 2:7). He was celibate and poor (Mt. 8:20; Lk 9:58) and obedient unto death (Phil 2:8). We freely vow chastity, poverty and obedience as a personal response in faith to God whose love the Holy Spirit has poured out in our hearts (Rom. 5:5).

Letter to Missionary Servants – March 22, 1923-MF 5329. Fr. Thomas Judge
Poverty, Chastity and Obedience!
What golden beads they are linking our hearts to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We meet our dear Lord as the Church presented Him to us last Sunday (Palm Sunday), the center of an acrimonious, contentious, irreverent crowd. My thoughts these days are much given over to pondering this: upon what did the eyes of Jesus gaze? “Behold the Man,” the Sacred Scripture says (Jn. 19:5). As they beheld, He too beheld. As they gazed, He gazed. Again: what did He see? Surely there is need of reparation for those sins of long ago and for the sins of those who today gaze so coldly and indifferently and irreverently upon Him. How consoling must be your gaze of love! What a comfort to the agonizing Heart of Jesus, on that dreadful first Good Friday. When He knew that your heart would be His.
(In pledging vows again), make your consecration through love, yes, but especially the love of a soul that sorrows and is pained because of Him and His sorrows. Let it be reparation of love. Let Him Who is so outraged today realize that you wish to make up and to love for yourself and for all those who refuse Him love. Let Him even see this generous love find expression in good works ad in the good will ever to make reparation. Unite all with His love and sorrows, with the love and sorrows of His compassionate Mother, with Saint Joseph and all the saints. May the Mother of our Lord, because of the word made Flesh, obtain for you many graces and blessings and above all that you may ever be generous, loyal and sacrificing (in the service of Jesus).

Questions posed by Pope Francis
Message for the Year of Consecrated Life, November 29, 2014
#2 The question we have to ask ourselves during this Year is if and how we too are open to being challenged by the Gospel; whether the Gospel is truly the “manual” for our daily living and the decisions we are called to make. The Gospel is demanding: it demands to be lived radically and sincerely. It is not enough to read (even though the reading and study of Scripture is essential), nor is it enough to meditate on it (which we do joyfully each day). Jesus asks us to practice it, to put his words into effect in our lives. Once again, we have to ask ourselves: Is Jesus really our first and only love, as we promised he would be when we professed our vows? Only if He is, will we be empowered to love, in truth and mercy, every person who crosses our path. For we will have learned from Jesus the meaning and practice of love. We will be able to love because we have his own heart.
Time for personal reflection & Faith Sharing

Closing: Blessed be God the Father who has created us,
Blessed be God the Son, who has redeemed us,
Blessed be God the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us.

Blessed be the Holy and undivided Trinity, now and forever. Amen