Monday, August 21, 2017

Let’s pray always

ST. Paul tells us to pray without ceasing and we have to
take his words seriously. (cfr 1 Thes 5,17) We are meant to pray
continuously, because we need to be always in touch with God and
prayer is our basic way of doing that. And as a necessary corollary to
that, prayer also enables us to get in touch with everybody else which
we also need to do.

            Without God who is our creator and source of all good
things, we can only do evil. We would be like a branch cut off from
the vine. We may manage to give an appearance of life and goodness,
but without Him, we actually have and are nothing.

            We have to be constantly aware that we cannot be simply on
our own. We need God and we need to be with everybody and everything
else. We have to overcome our tendency that we can afford to be
isolated. We should never forget that we are always in communion and
we need to make that communion alive and healthy.

            Communication, which is primarily done through prayer, is
indispensable to keep our communion with God and with others alive.
When we would just keep quiet, there’s no other thing that can happen,
except, first of all, to be indifferent to God and to the others, and
eventually to go against them.

            That is why in the context of marriage and family life,
for example, communication is essential and should always be done.
When for one reason or another, communication is frustrated in these
areas, problems will always arise. They become unavoidable.

            Thus, when we notice that someone in the family is quiet
or is isolating himself, it should give us a warning that something is
wrong. And everything has to be done so that the flow of communication
continues and greater communion in love and understanding is kept.

            And what would give us the idea and material, the reason
and the impulse to communicate is when we first of all communicate
with God through our personal prayer. That is why prayer is so
indispensable in our life.

            Let’s see to it that our prayer is truly a living
encounter with God, a loving conversation with him, an intimate
sharing of love. That is always possible and doable because God is our
Father who is not only everywhere but is always in love with us,
irrespective of how we are. In fact, his love for us becomes more
special if we get into some difficult moment.

            It’s God who takes the initiative to come into our lives,
into our mind and heart. It’s up to us to correspond to God’s
initiative. That’s why we need to have some time to pray, to pause and
reflect, and to assume a recollected lifestyle. With today’s noise and
hustle and bustle, a time of prayer and silence is truly needed.

            Sometimes, because of our weakened and wounded condition,
we find it hard to correspond, but God tells us to just apply some
force on ourselves. “Ask,” Christ said, “and it will be given to you.
Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Mt
7,7)


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Weeding out

WEEDS are a fact of life, and we just have to learn how to
deal with them. Not only are they in our gardens. They are practically
everywhere. They, in fact, appear in all aspects of our life—personal,
social, economic, political, etc.

            Where we have to be most careful about them is in our
spiritual life. That’s because a spiritual life full of weeds is the
seedbed of all the weeds we can have in all the other aspects of life.
The condition of our spiritual life determines the condition of all
the other areas in our life.

            We have to see to it, for example, that our prayer is a
real dialogue with God and not just a soliloquy, our sanctity not
sanctimony, our piety not pietism. We have to see to it that
everything in our spiritual life is genuine and authentic, not fake.
And to think that nowadays we are practically swimming in an ocean of
fake things!

            We have to flee from any signs of pretension and
hypocrisy. We have to strengthen our unity of life, always making an
effort to fix our often fractured life. We have to know how to
dominate the many distractions we are having nowadays in our prayer
life, and these can be very irresistible and, worse, addicting.

            This, of course, will require constant effort at
vigilance, discernment and weeding out. But first, we need to know how
to distinguish between the true and the false.

            This can be very tricky, because weeds can also have the
quality of looking like the genuine plants. But thanks to God, we also
have the means to be able to identify which is which.

            We already have well-defined doctrine of our faith, a good
variety of spiritualities to choose from, a rich body of testimonies
of saints who can serve as guides, and other means like recourse to
the sacraments, to spiritual direction, etc.

            We just have to do our part. Much like what we usually do
with our gardens, we also have to see to it that there is a regular
pruning and weeding out done in our acts of piety. This should be a
habit for us, something we do quite automatically.

            Christ himself referred to this when he said: “He cuts off
every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does
bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (Jn 15,2)

            In our daily examination of conscience, we should be able
to make some cutting off and pruning. We cannot let some days pass
without doing this very important thing of cutting off, weeding out
and pruning. Especially days when we are confronted with a lot of
distractions, we should be quite active in doing this.

            This is the way we can manage to create an air of goodness
wherever we may be, edifying people around, which is what we should be
doing all the time. The end result should be a certain surge of
eagerness to do good always. We can notice a certain sense of
driven-ness in our life, and that’s simply because we are fit and
lean, cleansed from unnecessary burden.




Friday, August 18, 2017

Never be afraid to approach God

NOR be ashamed. Even if we have offended him big time or
find ourselves in a most shameful condition, let’s never hesitate to
approach God to ask for pardon or any kind of help. God is always a
Father whose only delight is to love us all the way. He is ever ready
for that, and, in fact, very eager too. He will do everything to help
us in any way.

            This is what we learn from the episodes of the Canaanite
woman (cfr Mt 15,21-28), the official whose daughter just died, and
the woman suffering from hemorrhages for 12 years. (cfr Mt 9)

            In the case of the official, Christ dropped everything to
go to the house of that official and along the way happened to help
the woman also.

            In the case of the woman, it has to be noted that she was
publicly regarded as an outcast. But she was determined to approach
Christ even secretly, and even if only to touch Christ’s cloak.

            “If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured,” she
said to herself. Her strong faith, her confidence, her humility, all
contributed to the granting of her desire. “Courage, daughter! Your
faith has saved you,” Christ told her. And she was cured.

            Let’s take note that more than just the cure of her
hemorrhages, Christ told her she was saved. Christ is more interested
in the salvation of our sinful soul, which is more important than in
the cure of any health problem.

            In the case of the Canaanite woman, Christ readily saw how
great her faith was, and so he relented even if at the beginning he
ignored her. Christ was simply testing her faith. And by so doing, he
also showed that faith can transcend and cross racial and cultural
boundaries.

            Let’s hope that we can have the same attitude as the
Canaanite woman, the official and the sick woman. Let’s not delay in
going to Christ by whom all our needs are satisfied. Let’s have the
same attitude, the same faith, confidence and humility that these
three characters had shown.

            More than that, let’s also show among ourselves the same
attitude that Christ had toward these three characters. Let’s be quick
to help others, to understand them, to be patient and merciful with
them. Let’s develop a universal heart that can accommodate everybody
with love.

            Let’s remember that we have to like him, since as the Son
of God, he is the very pattern of our humanity, and as the Son of God
who became man, he is our redeemer who definitely resolves our earthly
human predicament.

            Let’s spend time meditating on this wonderful truth about
the fatherhood of God to us in the hope that we can develop that
intimate spirit of filiation to him. Let’s remember that our divine
filiation should be the foundation of our relationship with God.

            We are not just one more creature of his. We are the
masterpiece of the whole of his creation. We are children of his, yes,
in spite of the mess that we can manage to create because of the
misuse of our freedom.

            We have to learn not to be afraid of him, nor ashamed to
approach him because of our stupidities. The fear of the Lord, which
is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, is simply the fear of
offending him, but not the fear to approach him after we may have
offended him.

            God looks kindly on sinners. The divine justice that our
sins deserve does not undermine at all the divine mercy he is always
eager to give us. So, let’s take heart, just like what Christ told the
woman.



Thursday, August 17, 2017

Be confident and courageous

THERE’S really no reason to be too worried and anxious
when we encounter some difficulty in our life. In fact, we have every
reason to be confident and at peace, focused on what we are supposed
to do. And that’s because we are always in God’s hands.

            Whatever situation we may be in, we can be sure that God
will always provide for what is truly needed by us, and it may not be
what we want. We just have to trust him completely for he knows better
than we do, and what we want may not be what we need. It may not even
be what is good for us.

            The story of Abraham’s complete trust in God is a great
lesson for us. (Gen 22,1-19) When God tested him by asking him to
offer his only son, Isaac, as a sacrifice, he readily agreed. We
already know how the story ended—a happy ending it was—and what great
lesson he learned from that test.

            Abraham named the place where he was supposed to sacrifice
his son, “Yahweh-yireh” (the Lord provides), for he was provided in
the last minute with a ram instead of his son for the sacrifice.

            God always knows what to do in any situation we may find
ourselves in. He may allow some evil to come to us, an evil that can
do us no harm unless we let it, but God knows how to draw good from
evil.

            Ours is simply to trust God completely, and out of that
trust, we should always feel confident and courageous to do what we
are supposed to do. We should not waste our time lamenting and feeling
like a victim, or wallowing in doubts, passivity and self-pity.

            We have to remove ourselves from that state mentioned by
St. Paul in his Letter to the Ephesians: “children tossed to and fro
and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men,
by their craftiness in deceitful wiles.” (4,14) We have to move. There
are a lot of things to do.

            Yes, there will always be challenges, problems,
difficulties that humanly speaking may be impossible for us to tackle.
But as long as we have trust in God, we can sincerely echo St. Paul’s
words: “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” (Phil 4,13)
These words have been verified to be true in the lives of all the
saints, especially the martyrs.

            It’s important that we be confident and at peace always,
because that would put us in the proper condition to do the things we
are supposed to do. It will make us bold and courageous, fruitful and
productive.

            It is a confidence that is not presumptuous. It goes
together with prudence, discretion and tact. It is meek and humble,
not pompous, arrogant and vain. It reassures and inspires people. It
would make us credible in our witnessing to Christ’s saving message.

            It is a confidence that is both in heaven and on earth. It
happily blends eternity and time. It is not simply theoretical. It is
also realistic and practical.

            Let’s strive to be always confident and courageous!