Thursday, January 25, 2018

THE CONVERSION OF ST PAUL

"Acts of the Apostles 22:3-16"
Paul said to the people, "I am a Jew and was born at Tarsus in Cilicia. I was brought up here in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was taught the exact observance of the Law of our ancestors. In fact, I was as full of duty towards God as you are today.  I even persecuted This way to the death, and sent women as well as men to prison in chains as the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify, since they even sent me with letters to their brothers in Damascus. When I set off it was with the intention of bringing prisoners back from there to Jerusalem for punishment.
I was on that journey and nearly at Damascus when about midday a bright light from heaven suddenly shone around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" "I am Jesus the Nazarene, and you are persecuting me". The people with me saw the light but did not hear his voice as he spoke to me. I said: "What am I to do, Lord?  The Lord answered "Stand up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told what you have been appointed to do".  The light had been so dazzling that I was blind and my companions had to take me by the hand;  and so I came to Damascus.

"Someone called Ananias, a devout follower of the Law and highly thought of by all the Jews living there, came to see me, he stood beside me and said, "Brother Saul, receive your sight". Instantly my sight came back and I was able to see him. Then he said "The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see that Just One and hear his own voice speaking, because you are to be his witness before all mankind, testifying to what you have seen and heard. And now why delay? It is time you were baptised and had your sins washed away while invoking his name."




Paul's  conversion is a testament to God's grace, and his life is a testament of one who preached, taught, proclaimed, witnessed to and lived by God's grace. For him the Christian faith wasn't about what he did for God but what God had done for him in Jesus Christ. Today we rejoice in our conversion, but seek on-going conversion through prayer, reading Scripture and adoring Christ in the Eucharist.


Thursday, December 21, 2017

THE ANNUNCIATION

[Luke1:26-38]
Mary was at the foot of Jesus' crib in the days following his birth and at the foot of his cross when he died.  She is the new Eve and our Mother in faith.  Mary's encounter with the archangel Gabriel is a heaven-meets-earth moment, retold very powerfully by Luke, the master storyteller.
Of course, we now know that Mary was closer to heaven than any other creature, because she had been conceived without original sin. This singular and privileged grace doesn't, however, detract from the sheer power and drama of the appearance of the archangel.  We don't know any background details about the moment the angel appeared, but what we do know is that Mary said "Yes" to God's plan of salvation, and that her consent - her agreement and acceptance - was crucial in ensuring that God's plan of salvation not only got underway, but was fulfilled.  It was as if, for a moment in time, our eternal salvation was on a knife edge - for God does not coerce or force us.

Mary's consent, her warm embrace of God's will, meant that in the fullness of time God sent his Son born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law. Mary's "Yes" meant that through the gift of baptism the new birth we could receive our full rights as children of God - for that is what we are! No wonder that, as we shall learn, John the Baptist leapt with joy in the womb. No wonder the angelic host sang, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests" {Luke 2:14 NIV], for it first rested on Mary, the virgin from Nazareth.
Mary is for all time the perfect model of faith.  St Ambrose encourages us with this reflection: "You see that Mary did not doubt but believed and therefore obtained the fruit of faith. "Blessed are you who have believed." But you also are blessed who have heard and believed. For a soul that has believed has both conceived and bears the Word of God and declares his works. Let the soul of Mary be in each one of you, so that it magnifies the Lord. Let the spirit of Mary be in each of you, so that it rejoices in God".

Lord, may I conceive your word through faith and give birth to Christ through my witness, love and service.
[Taken from Bible alive 20th December 2017]

Thursday, November 16, 2017

TRUST AND JESUS CRUCIFIED


There is one abundant source of trust, unhappily too often forgotten by all too many fervent souls.  It is the Source which sprang from the barren rock of Golgotha at the feet of Jesus Crucified.  It is a fertile Source that never runs dry, and that is known only to privileged souls. All too many men, wistful of perfection too often forget it: in their spiritual barrenness, in the night of the soul, they forget to go to Calvary, there to contemplate Jesus and to comfort themselves at this refreshing Source of perfect trust....

The love of the Divine Crucified, the love of Christ who died for the sake of me, his unworthy and insignificant creature- who died for me to win my stubborn heart and my wavering love, though it be perceived only in part, is at once and at first sight recognised as a love that has never been surpassed......
He died to make all my affections his and to make me holy - Jesus holds out to me his pierced hand crying aloud to me this truth: "Never my poor little creature, will you love Me as I love you. Behold! that I may win your heart, I die upon the cross. For your heart My own heart hungers and thirsts. I yearn to possess your love utterly and entirely". Thus he may win me for himself. Jesus is there upon the cross not merely to save my soul does he hang there. If that were all a single word, a single thought of his would have availed There he hangs, that he may win my heart, that he may drive all other affection from it, that in my soul he may arouse a love that is alive zealous, disinterested and self-forgetful a love that is pure love. To conclude : there He hangs upon the cross that he may make a Saint of me.....
Jesus thirsts for my perfect union,....to inspire in me the love which is capable even of that ultimate holiness, the noble folly of the cross: his desire for this exceeds, infinitely exceeds, my own.....This Jesus who died for me could not let slip a single moment without busying himself with me, without seeking to win my heart......
I am infinite Love, I am Love's infinite, wish for love. To give love is my burning desire. To give Love is my unceasing, my irresistible, my sorrowful need. In utter trust come to me, O you who are yearning for true love! Ask of Me, who am Jesus Crucified, all that you can desire in regard to love, whether it be for yourself or whether it be for others! To give you such love is my unspeakable happiness. Do not withhold this happiness from Me!.....
Your desire to receive true love shall never equal my desire to give it.....
Give me your heart; give me your life. In you and through you I thirst once more to satisfy My vast love for my Father;.... As though you were no more you, as though not you lived but only I in you: Give Me your life.
I who died for love of you Dwell in you!
(Paul De Jaegher S.J.]


Thursday, August 3, 2017

THE CURE OF ARS

St John Mary Vianney was born at Dardilly near Lyons, France on May 8th 1786.  The world John was born into was a disturbed one. When he was three years old the French Revolution began and two years later Dardilly found itself saddled with a "constitutional" priest, so the little John and his parents had to assist in secret at the mass of any fugitive loyal priest who came into the neighbourhood.  While the terror of the French Revolution was going on, he was learning to be a herd-boy, shepherding the cattle and sheep of Matthew Vianney's farm in the meadows on either side of the little river Planches.
He made his first Communion in secret when he was thirteen, and very shortly after, mass could be offered again in public at Dardilly.
John wished to become a priest, but he was twenty before he could leave home, having so little formal education his studies were very difficult for him also, during this time John was conscripted into the army. He had to report at the depot in Lyons on 26th October 1809.  Two days later he was taken ill and sent to hospital and his draft for the army in Spain left without him.  On 5th January 1810 he was ordered to report at Roanne for another draft on the morrow and John having gone into a church to pray, arrived after it had gone. he set out to catch up the draft at Renaison, while near the mountains, a stranger appeared and picking up John's knapsack ordered John to follow, John found himself in a hut near the remote mountain village of "Les Noes".
He now learned that the stranger was a deserter from the army, and that many more were in hiding in the woods and hills around.  John saw at once that his situation was compromising, and reported himself to the mayor of the Commune. M. Fayot was an humane official and a sensible man, he pointed out to John that he was already technically a deserter, and that of two evils the lesser was to remain in refuge where he was; and found him a lodging in the house of his own cousin.  His hiding place was in a stable under a hay-loft.  For fourteen months John was at Les Noes.
Several times he was nearly taken by gendarmes, once feeling the point of a sword between his ribs as it was thrust about in the hay of the loft.
In March 1810 the emperor, on the occasion of his marriage with the Archduchess Marie-Louise, had proclaimed an amnesty for all defaulters. John was able to return to his home a free man.
John returned to his studies, and after great difficulities, and thanks to the great help of Abbe Balley who coached John privately, and never gave up on him, on 12th August 1815 he was ordained  priest and said his first mass the next day.
John was made parish priest of Ars a remote and neglected place of 230 people.  Father Vianney set out to visit every household under his care. He worked hard for his little parish and prayed day and night for his parishoners  (who were not too interested in God or being saved!)
He waged relentless war against blasphemy, profanity, and obscenity, and was not afraid to utter from the pulpit the words and expressions that offended God, so there should be no mistake as to what he was talking about. For years he struggled for a proper observance of Sunday, not merely to get everybody to mass and vespers, but to abolish work which at times was done on Sunday without a shadow of necessity. For forty one years the good Cure waged a battle for the souls in his care. He eat very little just some dried bread and sometimes boiled potatoes. He spent many hours hearing confessions.
After a while his parishioners flocked to him for confession and felt the joy of God's forgiveness and of conversion. He listened, understood read their minds, prompted repentance and comforted them.
Ars became famous, people coming from far away to come to confession to the holy Cure of Ars, they came in their thousands. When one pilgrim was asked "but what did you see at Ars?" he replied "I saw God in a man"
St John Vianney worn out by all his work died on 4th August 1859.
On 31st May 1925 John Vianney Cure of Ars was canonized by Pope Pius X1,
and on 23rd April 1928 the pope declared him patron of the world's parish priests.


Saturday, March 4, 2017

THE END OF THE PRESENT WORLD

I am reading this book at present, and am so impressed with it that I decided to quote a little bit from it.
St Therese said of this book:"Reading this was one of the greatest graces of my life. I read it at the window of my study, and the impression I received from it is too intimate and too sweet for me to express...   All the great truths of religion, the mysteries of eternity, plunged my soul into a happiness not of this earth....

The author, Father Charles Arminjon, was a highly esteemed preacher in France. His book consists of nine conferences that he preached at the Chambery Cathedral and then published in 1881 under the title Fin du Monde Present et Mysteries de la Vie Future. He delivered these conferences with the express purpose of combating " the fatal error and great plague of our century", which he described as " the absence of the sense of the supernatural, and the profound neglect of the great truths of the future life".
On June 4 and 5 in the year 1887, St Therese copied out an extract from Father Arminjon's seventh conference, on "Eternal Beatitude and the Supernatural Vision of God".
As no mother loved her dearest son, so the Lord loves His predestinate. He is jealous of His dignity and could not permit Himself to be outdone by His creature on the score of fidelity and generosity. Oh! The Lord cannot forget that the saints, when they once lived on earth, paid homage to Him by the total donation of their repose, their happiness and their whole being; that they would have liked to have had an inexhaustible flow of blood in their veins, in order to shed it as a living and imperishable pledge of their faith; that they would have desired a thousand hearts in their breasts, so as to consume them in the unquenchable fires of their love; and to possess a thousand bodies, in order that they might deliver them to martyrdom, like victims unceasingly renewed. And the grateful God cries out: Now my turn!  The saints have given me the gift of themselves: can I respond other than by giving myself, without restriction and without measure? If I place in their hands the scepter of creation, if I surround them with the torrents of my light, that is a great deal; it is going beyond their highest hopes and aspirations, but it is not the utmost endeavor of my Heart.  I owe them more than Paradise, more than the treasures of my knowledge; I owe them my life, my nature, my eternal and infinite substance. If I bring my servants and friends into my house, if I console them and make them thrill with joy by enfolding them in the embrace of my charity, this satisfies their thirst and their desires super-abundantly, and is more than the perfect repose of their hearts requires; but it is not enough for the gratification of my divine Heart, for the repletion and perfect satisfaction of my Love. I must be the soul of their souls, I must penetrate and imbue them with my divinity, as fire penetrates iron; by showing myself to their spirits, undisguised, unveiled, without the intervention of the senses, I must unite myself to them in an eternal face-to-face, so that my glory illuminates them, exudes and radiates through all the pores of their being, so that, "knowing me as I know them they may become Gods themselves"

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


THE  BEAUTY  OF  GOD
"It is therefore, nothing strange for the soul to desire to die by beholding the beauty of God in order to enjoy Him for ever.  If the soul had but one single glimpse of the majesty and beauty of God, not only would it desire to die once in order to see Him for ever, as it desires now, but would most joyfully undergo a thousand most bitter deaths to see Him even for a moment, and having seen Him would suffer as many deaths again to see Him for another moment"
 Spiritual Canticle [Stan X1] St John of the Cross
 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

I THIRST FOR YOU

" Behold, I stand at the door and knock.....[Rev. 3,20]
It is true. I stand at the door of your heart, day and night. Even when you are not listening, even when you doubt it could be Me, I am there. I await even the smallest sign of your response, even the least whispered invitation that will allow Me to enter.
I want you to know that whenever you invite Me, I do come - always, without fail. Silent and unseen I come, but with infinite power and love, and bringing the many gifts of My Spirit. I come with My mercy, and My desire to forgive and heal you, and with a love for you beyond your comprehension - a love every bit as great as the love I have received from the Father; "As much as the Father has loved Me, I have loved you.....[John 15:9]
I come  - longing to console you and give you strength, to lift you up and bind all your wounds.  I bring you My light, to dispel your darkness and all your doubts. I come with My power, that I might carry you and all your burdens; with My grace, to touch your heart and transform your life; and My peace I give to your soul.
I know you through and through. I know everything about you. The very hairs of your head I have numbered. Nothing in your life is unimportant to Me. I have followed you through the years, and I have always loved you - even in your wanderings. I know every one of your problems. I know your needs and your worries. And yes, I know all your sins. But I tell you again that I love you - not for what you have or haven't done - I love you for you, for the beauty and dignity My Father gave you by creating you in His own image.  It is a dignity you have often forgotten, a beauty you have tarnished by sin.  But I love you as you are, and I have shed My Blood to win you back.
If you only ask Me with faith, My grace will touch all that needs changing in your life, and I will give you the strength to free yourself from sin and all its destructive power.  I know what is in your heart - I know your loneliness and all your hurts - the rejections, the judgments, the humiliations, I carried it all before you.  And I carried it all for you, so you might share My strength and victory.

 
I know especially your need for love - how you are thirsting to be loved and cherished. But how often have you thirsted in vain, by seeking that love selfishly, striving to fill the emptiness inside you with passing pleasures - with the even greater emptiness of sin. Do you thirst for love?  "Come to Me all you who thirst...[John 7:37].  I will satisfy you and fill you. Do you thirst to be cherished?  I cherish you more than you can imagine - to the point of dying on the cross for you.

[extract on meditation on the spiritual teachings of St Teresa of Calcutta]