Monday, December 11, 2017

Joy in suffering

THERE can be joy in suffering only if we identify
ourselves with Christ. With Christ, suffering becomes an act of
selfless love that can take on anything. Only in him can we find joy
and meaning in suffering. With him, suffering loses its purely
negative and painful character, and assumes the happy salvific
character.
  
            We need to process this truth of our faith thoroughly,
always asking for God’s grace and training all our powers and
faculties to adapt to this reality. That’s why Christ told us clearly
that if we want to follow him, we simply have to deny ourselves, carry
the cross and follow him. There’s no other formula, given our wounded
human condition.
  
            This self-denial and carrying of Christ’s cross will
enable us to see that suffering is obviously the consequence of all
our sins—ours and those of others. Embracing suffering the way Christ
embraced his cross unites our suffering with that of Christ.
  
            Our motive for it is like that of Christ. It’s the desire
to conquer that suffering and ultimately our death through his death
and resurrection. It’s obeying God’s will just like Christ obeyed his
Father’s will. “Not my will but yours be done.”
  
            Our reaction to any form of suffering in this life should
therefore be theological and ascetical. It should be guided and
inspired by faith. It should not just be physical or a natural affair.
It should reflect the spiritual and supernatural realities to which we
are all subject.
  
            Everyday let us find ways of deepening our understanding
and appreciation of this truth of our faith, and also of acquiring the
capacity to live it as fully as possible, until we can truly say that
we are finding joy in our suffering.
  
            Let us often meditate on the passion, death and
resurrection of Christ since it is from there that we can get the
proper inspiration on this matter.
  
            At least we can say that we complain less when some
suffering comes our way, or we don’t lose our peace, we are actually
game with any suffering, our reaction to it goes beyond the level of
the senses and feelings, etc. We get more and more convinced that
going through some suffering is doing a lot of good to us and to
everybody else.
  
            To train ourselves for this, we might have to actively
pursue a plan of what is called as active mortification. We make a
list of acts of self-denial and even of corporal mortification like
fasting, abstinence and the recourse to ascetical instruments like the
cilice and the discipline.
  
            We should be familiar with these instruments that were
very useful in ages past. They can be very useful and relevant now
given the temper of the times when we live in an environment where
self-indulgence is a mainstream practice. We need to recover the use
of these instruments since they are effective in curbing our tendency
to indulge ourselves.
  
            We have to overcome the apologetic attitude whenever this
topic is brought up. It’s not something to be feared or to be ashamed
about. It is actually part of the Good News that will bring us a lot
of joy.
  
            This truth of our faith should be discussed more often in
churches, families, schools and even offices and other workplaces.
From there, let’s hope that this truth gets to be considered seriously
in the bigger worlds of business, politics and international
relations.


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Inclusivity amid differences

THE secret, to be blunt, is to be Christ-like. That’s the
only way we can have an inclusive outlook in life in spite of our
unavoidable differences and conflicts in the areas of lifestyles,
cultures, ideologies, opinions, preferences and even in beliefs,
spiritualities and morals.
  
            This is the inclusivity of charity that goes together with
the exclusivity of truth. Working this combination out will always be,
of course, a work in progress, with prudence and fortitude playing an
important role in the process. Let’s just take it easy and be cool and
calm as we also seriously undertake the lifelong task of combining
this inclusivity of charity with the exclusivity of truth.
  
            We need to remember that we always have to contend with
our natural human limitations, not to mention the more subtle effects
and consequences of sin, ours and those of others. We should not be
too surprised and worried about this given condition in our life. We
just have to do something about it.
  
            One thing that we can be more aware of is that in the
proclamation of what is true, good and beautiful as taught to us by
our faith, we should pay special attention to the effort of how to
charitably deal with those who are hit by such proclamation or
evangelization, or who are not yet ready to live by what are
proclaimed.
  
            Let’s remember St. Paul’s words: “Charity does not delight
in evil but rejoices with the truth.” (1 Cor 13,6) Gloating over the
errors of others should never be done.
   
            We should find a way of proclaiming the truths of our
faith and morals without unnecessarily alienating people. Definitely,
we need to pray for grace to be able to do this, and to cultivate the
relevant virtues of prudence, tact, delicacy, compassion, etc.
  
            We should be quick to take advantage of whatever good is
present in any situation where evil dominates. This was what Christ
taught in the parable of the dishonest steward where the master
praised the steward, not for his dishonesty, but for his astuteness in
finding a way to be acceptable to others once his stewardship is
removed. (cfr. Lk 16,1-13)
  
            What we should try to avoid is to convert our
evangelization into some kind of a dumping session where our listeners
are left only with a take-it-or-leave it option. This attitude of
non-negotiability would unduly cut the dialogue that is necessary in
evangelization. It would discard the need for pastoral accompaniment
that follows the law of gradualness.



            It is blind and insensitive to the reality on the ground
and lives in a bubble of a doctrinaire, rigid, inflexible,
uncompromising. It often considers its own reading of things as the
only one that counts. All other views and interpretations would not
have any value at all.



            We have to realize that we should not stop at proclamation
alone. We need to continually be in touch with the people,
accompanying them in their journey toward our common goal, helping
them in discerning things and integrating them more into the
mainstream of the Church.



            This will require of us that we treat everyone as he or
she is and as he or she has to be. It’s not going to be an easy task,
but as long as we realize this guiding principle, pray and ask for
grace and light from God, and do our best, somehow we can manage to
move toward inclusivity amid our differences.


Friday, December 8, 2017

Year of the clergy and religious

AS part of the 9-year plan of preparation of the 5th
centennial of the Christianization of the Philippines in 2021, our
bishops have declared 2018 as Year of the Clergy and Consecrated
Persons.
  
            It’s a good year-long occasion to reflect and deepen our
understanding of the crucial role the clerics and consecrated persons
play in the lives of the people. Let’s hope that at the end of the
year, we could truly say there in a quantum leap in such understanding
and in our love, appreciation and support for the men and women who
dedicate themselves in a special way in the vineyard of the Lord.
  
            In that way, we can say that we are really readying
ourselves for this landmark event in the history of our country that
should fill us with great joy and thanksgiving, and a stronger resolve
to be more generous in our self-giving and fidelity.
  
            At the moment, there is already a lot of talk about
priests and religious to be truly “servant-leaders” who have to
mediate or act as a bridge between God and men. In the Archdiocese of
Cebu, for example, the monthly recollections for priests are themed
after this ideal.
  
            Let’s pray that the whole year will produce real fruits of
sanctity in these men and women, myself included, that go beyond
slogans, euphemisms and play-acting. Let’s pray that these men and
women, myself included, will truly assume the very mind and heart of
Christ, our Redeemer, to such an extent that like Christ they, we,
would be willing also to be crucified.
  
            We should be priests and religious through and through,
from head to toe, from outside to inside, and not just priests and
religious in name only, nor priest-politician, priest-sociologist,
etc. We should only be priests and religious who faithfully and
consistently show Christ to everyone, and who act out what Christ told
his apostles: “He who hears you hears me.” (Lk 10,16)
  
            And so we have to be clear that the only way we, priests,
can truly become “servant-leaders” is when everyone strives to
identify himself more and more with Christ, the priest, the
quintessence of a “servant-leader” who gave his all, including his
life, for the salvation of men.
  
            In this regard, it might be helpful to remember those
famous words of St. John the Baptist that expressed his attitude
toward his vocation. “He (Christ) must increase, but I must decrease.”
(Jn 3,30)
  
            It might be good to make a good inventory of the issues
relevant in making priests and religious true “servant-leaders.” The
continuing formation should be beefed up, and greater attention should
be given on how each priest and religious can be attended to
spiritually. Very often they are left on their own, practically like a
sheep in the midst of wolves and many have been eaten up.
  
            We need to look more into how each priest and religious
are living the crucial virtues of piety, poverty, obedience, chastity,
fraternity, etc. These are basic and need to be lived well before we
can be effective and credible in our ministry. These are no joking
matter. These are where the temptations are most insidious and devious
in the lives of priests and religious.
  
            May it be that we, priests and religious, deserve those
words spoken in the Book of Jeremiah: “I will give you shepherds after
my own heart, and they will shepherd you with knowledge and good
sense.” (3,15)
  
            Please pray for us, priests and religious. We need it badly!


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Assurance and caution

CHRIST’S redemptive work that culminated in his passion,
death and resurrection should reassure us that there is really nothing
to worry about our precarious earthly condition. As long as we unite
ourselves with Christ, at least to some degree, everything will be
taken care of.
  
            Christ already assumed all our sins. With his death, he
delivered death also to our sins. And with his resurrection, he
conquered them. The sting of our sins, and especially of death itself,
has been removed and changed into a balm of redemptive power.
  
            This truth of our faith should leave us at peace and more
focused on the things we ought to do. It’s important that our earthly
life be spent more in doing good rather than in worrying about the
mistakes and sins that we commit. This is what true love is.
  
            Just the same, we should neither forget that, human as we
are, we can also get spoiled by this sense of security provided by
Christ. We should be most guarded against this danger that will always
be around.
  
            To counter this potential danger, and if we truly identify
ourselves with Christ, we should always feel the need for contrition,
atonement and reparation even if we can also rightly say that we have
been behaving as we should in the eyes of God.
  
            That is to say, that we have been guarding and defending
ourselves against temptations and trying to lead a holy life. We
should never think that our duty for contrition, atonement and
reparation is lightened because of our good behaviour.
  
            In fact, if we truly identify ourselves with Christ, we
will never forget his words: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must
deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Lk 9,23) We
should do all to put these words into practice. No day should pass
without having to live by these words.
  
            If we have the mind of Christ, we should all the more feel
the need for contrition, atonement and reparation while we are
progressing and improving in our spiritual life. Christ’s love for us
went and continues to go all the way. It is limitless, given without
measure. Our love for him and for others should be patterned after
that divine love.
  
            So we have to learn how to blend a sense of confidence and
assurance with the sense of caution by generously practising penance
and reparation. We should feel confident and secure, but not
over-confident as to get blind to the need for continuing penance. A
certain equilibrium between these two attitudes should be established.
  
            It’s important that the life of Christ, especially that
part of his passion, death and resurrection, be always clearly borne
in our mind. We need to realize more deeply that more than just
following our own ideas, no matter how brilliant and smart, we always
have to follow Christ’s life and example.
  
            This, of course, will require that we spend time
meditating on Christ’s life. Let’s hope that this practice becomes a
regular feature of our day. We have to overcome the thought that this
practice is something optional or that it is just a luxury that we can
afford to let go.
  
            Let’s never forget that we are meant to be patterned after
Christ. We are meant to be ‘alter Christus,’ another Christ, if not
‘ipse Christus,’ Christ himself. That is truly our fundamental and
indispensable identity!


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Advent a period of love-filled waiting

YES, that’s what the liturgical season of Advent is. It’s
a period of a love-filled waiting not only for the most joyous
Christmas, the birth of Christ, but also and most especially of the
second coming of Christ.
  
            We need to look forward to that coming when Christ gathers
us as his people at the end of time, incorporating us into his
mystical body and bringing us to where we truly belong—in heaven where
we, individually and collectively, will enter into a definitive
communion with God, a communion of love in mind and heart.
  
            Christ’s second coming is when we finally complete our
earthly sojourn which is meant to be a time of testing, a time of
making a choice either to be with God or simply to be by ourselves.
   
            That is when we finally would become “alter Christus,”
another Christ, who is the pattern and redeemer of our humanity. That
is when we finally become the true image and likeness of God as God
himself as wanted us to be. That is when we organically form together
with the others the definitive family and people of God with Christ as
the head.
  
            We have to be welcoming to Christ in his second coming,
ever watchful and ready to receive him when he finally comes. Our
watchfulness and readiness should not be spent by simply doing
nothing. Rather it should be a watchfulness and readiness that is full
of love that is expressed in deeds, in the faithful fulfilment of our
duties.
  
            The proper attitude and sentiment during this season of
Advent is somehow described in one the Eucharistic prefaces of Advent.
“When he comes again in glory and majesty, and all is at last made
manifest,’ it says, “we who watch for that day may inherit the great
promise in which now we dare to hope.”
  
            We have to learn to live with the hope of attaining our
final end, fully united and identified with Christ. And so, we have to
learn also how to relate the things that we are doing at any given
moment to heaven.
  
            Again, a prayer in one of the Advent Masses expresses the
same sentiment. “O Lord,” it says, “as we walk amid passing things,
teach us by them to love the things of heaven and hold fast to what
endures.”
  
            We have to help everyone to appreciate the real
significance of Advent and to live by that spirit. For those who can,
let us undertake an effective catechesis. We need to see to it that
Advent is not just a time for merry-making and gift-giving. These are
the peripherals that should not detract from the central and crucial
character of Advent.
  
            Like St. Paul, let us preach constantly, in season and out
of season, when people are receptive to our preaching or hostile. Of
course, we need to do this with gift of tongues, knowing how to
present the same truth to different people with different attitudes.

             May our preaching and catechesis be practical and
practicable, substantiated with clear indications and concrete
examples. May it be attractive and appealing. Given the sensitivity
especially of the young people—the millennials and the Generation Z—we
need to be very creative and do a lot of adaptation.
  
            Let us also tap those with certain authority in schools,
offices, public and private organizations to help out in this task. We
need to make Advent a real Advent, not a fictionalized one.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Mary of the Immaculate Conception

WE once again celebrate this Solemnity of the Immaculate
Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on December 8, a holy day of
obligation in our country. With it we are reminded of the great
privilege given to one of us, Mary of Nazareth, who was chosen many
centuries ago to be the mother of the Son of God who had to become man
to save us and to bring us back to God, our Father.

             With this celebration, we are told that Mary was conceived
without original sin. This is how the Eucharistic preface of the
solemnity explains the reason why.
  
            “For you (referring to God the Father) preserved the Most
Blessed Virgin Mary from all stain of original sin, so that in her,
endowed with the rich fullness of your grace, you might prepare a
worthy Mother for your Son and signify the beginning of the Church,
his beautiful Bride without spot or wrinkle.”

             The Eucharistic preface continues: “She, the most pure
Virgin, was to bring forth a Son, the innocent Lamb who would wipe
away our offenses; you placed her above all others to be for your
people an advocate of grace and a model of holiness.”
  
            It’s good that we go through these words, this prayer,
slowly if only to savor the tremendous, awesome truth of faith that
should richly nourish our souls and inspire us to pursue holiness
wholeheartedly no matter what.
  
            This truth about Mary in relation to us should fill us
with joy and a great sense of confidence that what seems to us to be
impossible to reach and attain can indeed be achieved.
  
            We may not have the privilege that Mary had of being
conceived sinless and remaining sinless all throughout our life, but
it’s good to look at Mary, now our Mother as given to us by Christ
himself, so we can be inspired and consoled to pursue holiness in our
vale of tears here on earth.
   
            To be sure, Mary, though conceived without sin and sinless
all throughout her life, was exposed to all the temptations and the
sins of men, because she was and continues to be most close and most
identified with her Son who bore all the sins of men.
  
            Her sinlessness was not one of a blissful ignorance of the
reality of sin. Her closeness and complete identification with her Son
made her know the very core of evil and sin in the world. But like her
Son too, she knew how to handle all those. And that is by suffering
the way Christ suffered for our sins. That’s why she’s referred to
also the Mother of Sorrows.
  
            It’s true that she was not crucified the way Christ was
crucified. But her suffering perfectly mirrored the extreme suffering
of her Son. In fact, we can consider her suffering a very heroic since
it was experienced in a quiet and hidden way.
  
            While all of us who try to follow Christ can be regarded
as co-redeemers with Christ in the sense that we also have to suffer,
die and resurrect with Christ, Mary can be described as the
co-redemptrix par excellence.
  
            Deepening our devotion to Mary of the Immaculate
Conception can only help us to effectively handle the reality of evil
and sin in this world as we pursue the real and ultimate purpose of
our life. And that is to be holy as our heavenly Father is holy.
  
            Deepening our Marian devotion should be a task that we
carry out daily. We lose nothing. Rather we have everything to gain!


Monday, December 4, 2017

God’s eternity and our time

WE need to understand the relation between God’s eternity
and our time with respect to our creation and our life in general. We
have to understand that our creation by God, of course, happens in
eternity, because everything that God wills and does is all done in
eternity.

            In that case, everything is done instantaneously, if we
have to use our human terminology to describe the workings of
eternity. In eternity, there is no beginning or end, no past and
future. There is no change even if there is life and dynamism, there
are no stages. All happen at the same time and are kept always in the
present.
  
            But insofar as we understand our creation by God, it has
to take place in time, since we are always subject to time because of
our human nature and condition. Time is a creation of God meant for
us. As his creation, time is also in his eternity.
  
            We have to understand then that God’s eternity can bear
our time. How that works exactly is a mystery that we cannot fully
understand. Somehow we get a glimpse of this mystery by considering
what St. Peter said in his second letter: “With the Lord one day is
like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.” (3,8)
  
            What we can draw from this fundamental point about God’s
eternity and our time is that our creation takes place in the whole of
time, or the whole of one’s lifetime here on earth. In other words our
creation is a work in progress until it ends with the end of time or
of our life.
  
            We cannot say that our creation took place only with the
creation of Adam and Eve, and from there we are pretty much on our
own. It would lead us to think that God committed a mistake in
creating our first parents with so good an endowment which they later
on misused. And from there, God had to make the corrective measure of
our redemption.
  
            God does not commit mistakes. Man’s creation, his fall and
his redemption are all lumped up in the eternal, timeless plan of God
for us. In other words, our creation goes in stages in time. God
continues in time to create us. His creation of us in our time
involves putting us into existence and all the events that happens in
our earthly existence.
  
            He continues to interact with each one of us, and we
should also try to continue interacting with him. This is a
fundamental truth that we should always be aware of and try to live
out as best as we can.
  
            The “finished product” of our creation is when we are
fully conformed to the resurrected Christ, which is how God designed
us to be from all eternity—that is, that we be image and likeness of
God in Christ and children of his.
  
            To achieve this, we have to cooperate with God’s plan to
the point that we become another Christ, who as the Son of God is the
very pattern of our humanity and the redeemer of our damaged humanity
through his passion, death and resurrection.

             Living this truth of our faith will surely fill us with
joy and confidence in spite of all the trials, difficulties and
failures we can experience in this life. We have no reason to fear as
long as we are aware of this fundamental truth about ourselves and are
corresponding to it.


Saturday, December 2, 2017

We always need God’s grace

MAKE no mistake about it. We always need God’s grace. On
our own, we can only do evil. Whatever good we think we can do without
God’s grace is only apparent. Sooner or later, that good will have no
other fate but to degenerate into something evil.
  
            Actually, God’s grace—at least what is known as the actual
grace—is always available. But we need to be aware of it by constantly
asking for it so that our actuations will always be according to God’s
will and ways even as they are also according to ours.
  
            Let’s always remember that our life is always a life with
God. Considering that we have been created in God’s image and likeness
and are children of his, everything in our life is infused with God’s
spirit which we have to learn to be aware of and to correspond to as
best as we can.
  
            Christ affirmed this truth when he said he is the vine and
we are the branches. “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear
much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing.” (Jn 15,5)
  
            We have to overcome our strong tendency to think that we
can be just on our own, wrongly thinking that this is how we exercise
our freedom. Our freedom can only be true freedom when it is exercised
with God who is its source, its power and its end.
  
            The autonomy that we enjoy in this life, especially in our
temporal affairs where we are legitimately allowed to have different
views and opinions, should never be understood as being totally
independent of God such that we can even go against God’s will.
  
            Without corresponding to God’s grace, we are bound to
misuse our human powers. If our first parents, still in their state of
original justice, managed to sin because in a moment they lapsed into
forgetting God and following the suggestion of the devil, how much
more us who have been born already with the handicap of the original
sin.
  
            Without corresponding to God’s grace, the use of our human
powers will be distorted and will just convert into all kinds of isms.
Our intellectual activity, for example, will fall into
intellectualism, the exercise of our will into voluntarism, the joy of
our sentiments into sentimentalism. These human powers become easy
prey to the wiles of our wounded flesh, the deceptive charms of the
world, and the tricks of the devil.
   
            Our will, for example, which is what enables us to be the
image and likeness of God and is therefore our most powerful human
faculty, can be misused such that instead of becoming like God, we can
choose to become like the demon.
  
            For us to correspond properly to God’s grace, we need to
be always humble, always feeling the need to be in his presence and to
know his will in an abiding manner. May it be that no moment passes
without being with God and interacting with him.
  
            We have to regularly examine ourselves to see how we can
plug the hole that takes us away from God’s presence. This hole
usually takes the form of the pride that we can derive from enjoying
our God-given endowments. Instead of thanking God for them and using
them for God’s purposes, we simply enjoy them on our own, using them
entirely according to our will and designs.
  
            May we always be desirous of God’s grace!


Friday, December 1, 2017

Fundamental and radical

IT’S good that we from time to time revisit the truth of
our creation, since that comprises the most fundamental and radical
truth about ourselves. Such consideration would definitely give us the
most basic as well as global picture about ourselves. It would remind
us to develop the proper attitude, outlook and perspective of our
life.

            Now that we are beginning a new liturgical year with the
celebration of the First Sunday of Advent, I feel this revisiting of
our creation is timely.

            Revisiting the truth about creation will certainly show us
that God is the source of all reality, of what is true, good and
beautiful. He is the foundation of the unity of all the creatures. He
spells out the proper relationship that should develop among us and
all the creatures.

            Nowadays, with all the galloping developments around, we
tend to forget about who we really are, what the real purpose of our
life is, and how we ought to behave as a consequence.

            Nowadays, we seem to be simply reacting to what we have at
the moment, much like a knee-jerk reaction that definitely will miss a
lot of things, especially the essential ones.

            There are now a lot of distractions. Our proper focus in
life is vitiated, a situation that is a fertile ground for many other
anomalies to arise. This religious indifference and ignorance can
easily give rise to all sorts of isms—agnosticism, atheism,
polytheism, materialism, etc. These are what we are seeing these days.

            We need to return to the basics, to the fundamental and
the radical. We have to reaffirm the truth that there is God who
created everything. The least thing that we can do in reaction to this
truth is that we have to relate everything to God—at least to thank
him and ultimately to glorify him, since that is the final purpose of
our life.

            Forgetting or ignoring God will only lead us to an unreal
world which to us can seem to be real because of our capacity to know
and to will. We don’t realize that our creation by God is an ongoing
affair, not a one-shot deal, since it’s the very existence of
creatures that is involved.

            God does not only fabricate us and leave us on our own
once our fabrication is finished. His creation means that he gives us
existence and keeps that existence which, in our case, since we are
made also spiritual, will last forever. His creation is a continuing,
never-ending affair. What we call as providence or God’s continuing
governance over his creation is just another name for his continuing
creation.

            There is a big difference between a fabricator or
manufacturer and the Creator. Only God is the Creator. We are only a
fabricator, or at best, a procreator as is the case of parents who
beget children. In the latter case, the parents simply cooperate in
the creation of another human being. That’s why their conjugal act is
a very sacred act that should not be degraded into a merely sexual
act.

            It’s indeed a big challenge now to spread this basic truth
about the implications of our creation by God. Our life is a shared
life with God. A direct corollary to this is that we ought always to
be aware of God’s presence and interventions in our life. In fact, as
much as possible we should try to feel the divine even while we are
immersed in the things of the world.



Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Always in need of renewal

THIS is how we should always feel. Regardless of the many
things we may already have accomplished or the high esteem we may
already have gained among the people, we should never forget that we
are always in need of renewal.

            The Church itself, already in a state of holiness for
being the very mystical body of Christ, admits that it has to
continually renew and purify itself. This is how the Catechism puts
it:

            “The Church, ...clasping sinners to her bosom, at once
holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path
of penance and renewal. All members of the Church, including her
ministers, must acknowledge that they are sinners.

                “In everyone, the weeds of sin will still be mixed
with the good wheat of the Gospel until the end of time. Hence the
Church gathers sinners already caught up in Christ's salvation but
still on the way to holiness.” (CCC 827)

            Thus, a Church institution that smugly claims its
spirituality is irreformably perfect is an anomaly, and is, in fact,
sowing the seed for its own self-destruction. It may have the
foundational charism from the Holy Spirit, but it should never forget
that it has sinners in her midst and, therefore, is always in need of
purification and renewal.

            And in spite of the original charism, the Holy Spirit may
make more modifications of that charism due to the changing
circumstances of the times. Fidelity to the charism is never a static
affair, since charism itself is neither a static, frozen or dead
thing. It is always alive and continues to adapt to the changing
circumstances. And our understanding of it can always stand deeper
improvement.

            Of course, it goes without saying that any development,
growth and modification on the original charism is always homogeneous.
The modifications are nothing other than a deepening and enriching of
the original charism, not radically changing that charism. The charism
is not meant to confine or restrict us to a certain way of life and of
doing things. It is always open to what the Holy Spirit prompts us to
do.

            This can somehow be gleaned from some words of Christ
himself. “For them I sanctify myself,” he said, “that they too may be
truly sanctified.” (Jn 17,19) Christ, who is holiness himself, goes
through the process of sanctifying himself still so as to sanctify
everybody else. Imagine that!

            Sanctity and everything involved in it—fidelity,
generosity, development of virtues, whether in the personal or
institutional levels—will always be a never-ending affair as long as
we are alive. It will always demand of us something. It is the
antithesis of the attitude that says enough to what the Holy Spirit
will show us.

            St. Peter also said something pertinent in his second
letter:  “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to
goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to
self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to
godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.

            “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure,
they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your
knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is
nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from
their past sins.” (1,5-9)

            We should never stop growing in our spiritual life which
is a matter of growing in our love for God and for others. We ought to
feel the constant need for conversion and renewal.