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!

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