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Lent

Lent (90)

Sábado, 25 Febrero 2012 01:09

Patience

Written by

by Flos Carmeli

Patience is the virtue which makes us accept for love of God, generously and peacefully, everything that is displeasing to our nature, without allowing ourselves to be depressed by the sadness which easily comes over us when we meet with disagreeable things.

Patience is a special aspect of the virtue of fortitude which prevents our deviating from the right road when we encounter obstacles. it is an illusion to believe in a life without difficulties. many difficulties are surmounted and overcome by an act of courage; others, on the contrary, cannot be mastered. We must learn to bear with them, and this is the role of patience - an arduous task, because it is easier to face obstacle directly, than to support the inevitable oppositions and sufferings of life, which, in time, tend to discourage and sadden us. By fixing our glance on Jesus, the divinely patient One, we can learn to practice patience most effectively. When we see Him who came into the world to save us, living from the first moment of His earthly existence in want, privation, and poverty, and later in the midst of misunderstanding and persecution; when we see Him become the object of the hatred of His own fellow citizen, calumniated, doomed to death, betrayed by a friend, and tried and condemned as malefactor, our souls are stirred: we realized that we cannot be his disciples unless we follow the same road. If Jesus, the Innocent One par excellence, bore so much for love of us, can we, sinnners who are deserving to suffer, not endure something for love of Him? Whatever the total suffering in our lives, it will always be very small, and even nothing, compared with the infinite sufferings of jesus; for in His Passion Christ not only endured the suffering of one life or several human lives, but that of all mankind.

It is very consoling for me to remember that You, the God of might, knew our weaknesses, that You shuddered at the sight of the bitter cup which earlier You had so ardently desired to drink.

In spite of this trial which robs me of all sense of enjoyment, i can still say: 'You have given me, O Lord, a delight in Your doings.' For is there any greater joy than to suffer for Your love, O my God? the more intense and the more hidden the suffering, the more do You value it. And even if, by an impossibility, You should not be aware of my affliction, I should still be happy to bear it, in the hope that by my tears I might prevent or atone for one sin against faith" (St Therese - "Letters" "The Story of the Soul")

 

Martes, 21 Febrero 2012 22:02

The Value of Suffering

Written by

by Flos Carmeli

The Passion of Jesus teaches us in a concrete way that in the Christian life we must be able to accept suffering for the love of God. This is a hard and repugnant task for our nature, which naturally prefers comfort and happiness. Suffering in itself is an evil and cannot be agreeable; but Jesus willed to embrace it in all its plenitude for our sake, he offers it to us and invites us to esteem and love it - as the only means to accomplish the sublime good of our redemption and the sanctification of our souls. God willed to exempt our first parents from suffering by preternatural gifts, but through sin, these gifts were lost forever, and suffering inevitably entered our life. the gamut of sufferings which has harassed humanity is therefore direct outcome of the disorder caused by sin, not only by original sin, but also by actual sins. Yet Church chants: O happy fault! Why? The answer lies in infinite love of God which transform everything and draws from the double evil of sin and suffering the great good of the redemption of the human race. When Jesus took upon Himself the sins of mankind, He also assumed their consequences, that is, suffering and death; and this suffering, embraced by Him during his whole life, and especially in His Passion, became the instrument of our redemption. Let St Therese speak on the value of suffering: 

"O Lord, You do not like to make us suffer, but You know it is the only way to prepare us to know You as You know Yourself, tp prepare us to become like You. You know well that if You sent me but a shadow of earthly happiness, I should cling cling to it with all the intense ardour of my heart, and so You refuse me even this shadow... because you wish that my heart be wholly Yours.

Life passes quickly that it is obviously better to have a most splendid crown and a little suffering, than an ordinary crown and no suffering. When I think that, for a sorrow borne with joy, i shall be able to love You more for all eternity, I understand clearly that if You gave me the entire universe, with all its treasures, it would be nothing in comparison to the slightest suffering. Each new suffering, each oang of the heart, is a gentle wind to bear to You, o Jesus, the perfume of the soul that loves You; then you smile lovingly, and immediately make ready a new grief, and fill the cup to the brim, thinking the more the soul grows in love, the more it must grow in suffering too.

What a favour, my Jesus, and how You must love me to send me suffering! Eternity itself will not be long enough to bless You for it. Why this predilection? it is a secret which You will reveal to me in our heavenly home on the day when You will wipe away all our tears.

I am happy not to be free from suffering here; suffering united with love is the only thing that seems desirable to me in this vale of tears (St Therese of Child Jesus "Letters", Story of the Soul)


Lunes, 20 Febrero 2012 10:38

Pope's Message for Lent 2012

Written by

by Pope Benedetto XVI

"Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works" (Heb 10:24)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Lenten season offers us once again an opportunity to reflect upon the very heart of Christian life: charity. This is a favourable time to renew our journey of faith, both as individuals and as a community, with the help of the word of God and the sacraments. This journey is one marked by prayer and sharing, silence and fasting, in anticipation of the joy of Easter.

This year I would like to propose a few thoughts in the light of a brief biblical passage drawn from the Letter to the Hebrews: "Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works". These words are part of a passage in which the sacred author exhorts us to trust in Jesus Christ as the High Priest who has won us forgiveness and opened up a pathway to God. Embracing Christ bears fruit in a life structured by the three theological virtues: it means approaching the Lord "sincere in heart and filled with faith" (v. 22), keeping firm "in the hope we profess" (v. 23) and ever mindful of living a life of "love and good works" (v. 24) together with our brothers and sisters. The author states that to sustain this life shaped by the Gospel it is important to participate in the liturgy and community prayer, mindful of the eschatological goal of full communion in God (v. 25). Here I would like to reflect on verse 24, which offers a succinct, valuable and ever timely teaching on the three aspects of Christian life: concern for others, reciprocity and personal holiness.

1. "Let us be concerned for each other": responsibility towards our brothers and sisters.

This first aspect is an invitation to be "concerned": the Greek verb used here is katanoein, which means to scrutinize, to be attentive, to observe carefully and take stock of something. We come across this word in the Gospel when Jesus invites the disciples to "think of" the ravens that, without striving, are at the centre of the solicitous and caring Divine Providence (cf. Lk 12:24), and to "observe" the plank in our own eye before looking at the splinter in that of our brother (cf. Lk 6:41). In another verse of the Letter to the Hebrews, we find the encouragement to "turn your minds to Jesus" (3:1), the Apostle and High Priest of our faith. So the verb which introduces our exhortation tells us to look at others, first of all at Jesus, to be concerned for one another, and not to remain isolated and indifferent to the fate of our brothers and sisters. All too often, however, our attitude is just the opposite: an indifference and disinterest born of selfishness and masked as a respect for "privacy". Today too, the Lord’s voice summons all of us to be concerned for one another. Even today God asks us to be "guardians" of our brothers and sisters (Gen 4:9), to establish relationships based on mutual consideration and attentiveness to the well-being, the integral well-being of others. The great commandment of love for one another demands that we acknowledge our responsibility towards those who, like ourselves, are creatures and children of God. Being brothers and sisters in humanity and, in many cases, also in the faith, should help us to recognize in others a true alter ego, infinitely loved by the Lord. If we cultivate this way of seeing others as our brothers and sisters, solidarity, justice, mercy and compassion will naturally well up in our hearts. The Servant of God Pope Paul VI stated that the world today is suffering above all from a lack of brotherhood: "Human society is sorely ill. The cause is not so much the depletion of natural resources, nor their monopolistic control by a privileged few; it is rather the weakening of brotherly ties between individuals and nations" (Populorum Progressio, 66).

Concern for others entails desiring what is good for them from every point of view: physical, moral and spiritual. Contemporary culture seems to have lost the sense of good and evil, yet there is a real need to reaffirm that good does exist and will prevail, because God is "generous and acts generously" (Ps 119:68). The good is whatever gives, protects and promotes life, brotherhood and communion. Responsibility towards others thus means desiring and working for the good of others, in the hope that they too will become receptive to goodness and its demands. Concern for others means being aware of their needs. Sacred Scripture warns us of the danger that our hearts can become hardened by a sort of "spiritual anesthesia" which numbs us to the suffering of others. The Evangelist Luke relates two of Jesus’ parables by way of example. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the priest and the Levite "pass by", indifferent to the presence of the man stripped and beaten by the robbers (cf.Lk 10:30-32). In that of Dives and Lazarus, the rich man is heedless of the poverty of Lazarus, who is starving to death at his very door (cf. Lk 16:19). Both parables show examples of the opposite of "being concerned", of looking upon others with love and compassion. What hinders this humane and loving gaze towards our brothers and sisters? Often it is the possession of material riches and a sense of sufficiency, but it can also be the tendency to put our own interests and problems above all else. We should never be incapable of "showing mercy" towards those who suffer. Our hearts should never be so wrapped up in our affairs and problems that they fail to hear the cry of the poor. Humbleness of heart and the personal experience of suffering can awaken within us a sense of compassion and empathy. "The upright understands the cause of the weak, the wicked has not the wit to understand it" (Prov 29:7). We can then understand the beatitude of "those who mourn" (Mt 5:5), those who in effect are capable of looking beyond themselves and feeling compassion for the suffering of others. Reaching out to others and opening our hearts to their needs can become an opportunity for salvation and blessedness.

"Being concerned for each other" also entails being concerned for their spiritual well-being. Here I would like to mention an aspect of the Christian life, which I believe has been quite forgotten:fraternal correction in view of eternal salvation. Today, in general, we are very sensitive to the idea of charity and caring about the physical and material well-being of others, but almost completely silent about our spiritual responsibility towards our brothers and sisters. This was not the case in the early Church or in those communities that are truly mature in faith, those which are concerned not only for the physical health of their brothers and sisters, but also for their spiritual health and ultimate destiny. The Scriptures tell us: "Rebuke the wise and he will love you for it. Be open with the wise, he grows wiser still, teach the upright, he will gain yet more" (Prov 9:8ff). Christ himself commands us to admonish a brother who is committing a sin (cf. Mt 18:15). The verb used to express fraternal correction - elenchein – is the same used to indicate the prophetic mission of Christians to speak out against a generation indulging in evil (cf. Eph 5:11). The Church’s tradition has included "admonishing sinners" among the spiritual works of mercy. It is important to recover this dimension of Christian charity. We must not remain silent before evil. I am thinking of all those Christians who, out of human regard or purely personal convenience, adapt to the prevailing mentality, rather than warning their brothers and sisters against ways of thinking and acting that are contrary to the truth and that do not follow the path of goodness. Christian admonishment, for its part, is never motivated by a spirit of accusation or recrimination. It is always moved by love and mercy, and springs from genuine concern for the good of the other. As the Apostle Paul says: "If one of you is caught doing something wrong, those of you who are spiritual should set that person right in a spirit of gentleness; and watch yourselves that you are not put to the test in the same way" (Gal 6:1). In a world pervaded by individualism, it is essential to rediscover the importance of fraternal correction, so that together we may journey towards holiness. Scripture tells us that even "the upright falls seven times" (Prov 24:16); all of us are weak and imperfect (cf. 1 Jn 1:8). It is a great service, then, to help others and allow them to help us, so that we can be open to the whole truth about ourselves, improve our lives and walk more uprightly in the Lord’s ways. There will always be a need for a gaze which loves and admonishes, which knows and understands, which discerns and forgives (cf. Lk 22:61), as God has done and continues to do with each of us.

2. "Being concerned for each other": the gift of reciprocity.

This "custody" of others is in contrast to a mentality that, by reducing life exclusively to its earthly dimension, fails to see it in an eschatological perspective and accepts any moral choice in the name of personal freedom. A society like ours can become blind to physical sufferings and to the spiritual and moral demands of life. This must not be the case in the Christian community! The Apostle Paul encourages us to seek "the ways which lead to peace and the ways in which we can support one another" (Rom 14:19) for our neighbour’s good, "so that we support one another" (15:2), seeking not personal gain but rather "the advantage of everybody else, so that they may be saved" (1 Cor 10:33). This mutual correction and encouragement in a spirit of humility and charity must be part of the life of the Christian community.

The Lord’s disciples, united with him through the Eucharist, live in a fellowship that binds them one to another as members of a single body. This means that the other is part of me, and that his or her life, his or her salvation, concern my own life and salvation. Here we touch upon a profound aspect of communion: our existence is related to that of others, for better or for worse. Both our sins and our acts of love have a social dimension. This reciprocity is seen in the Church, the mystical body of Christ: the community constantly does penance and asks for the forgiveness of the sins of its members, but also unfailingly rejoices in the examples of virtue and charity present in her midst. As Saint Paul says: "Each part should be equally concerned for all the others" (1 Cor 12:25), for we all form one body. Acts of charity towards our brothers and sisters – as expressed by almsgiving, a practice which, together with prayer and fasting, is typical of Lent – is rooted in this common belonging. Christians can also express their membership in the one body which is the Church through concrete concern for the poorest of the poor. Concern for one another likewise means acknowledging the good that the Lord is doing in others and giving thanks for the wonders of grace that Almighty God in his goodness continuously accomplishes in his children. When Christians perceive the Holy Spirit at work in others, they cannot but rejoice and give glory to the heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:16).

3. "To stir a response in love and good works": walking together in holiness.

These words of the Letter to the Hebrews (10:24) urge us to reflect on the universal call to holiness, the continuing journey of the spiritual life as we aspire to the greater spiritual gifts and to an ever more sublime and fruitful charity (cf. 1 Cor 12:31-13:13). Being concerned for one another should spur us to an increasingly effective love which, "like the light of dawn, its brightness growing to the fullness of day" (Prov 4:18), makes us live each day as an anticipation of the eternal day awaiting us in God. The time granted us in this life is precious for discerning and performing good works in the love of God. In this way the Church herself continuously grows towards the full maturity of Christ (cf. Eph 4:13). Our exhortation to encourage one another to attain the fullness of love and good works is situated in this dynamic prospect of growth.

Sadly, there is always the temptation to become lukewarm, to quench the Spirit, to refuse to invest the talents we have received, for our own good and for the good of others (cf. Mt 25:25ff.). All of us have received spiritual or material riches meant to be used for the fulfilment of God’s plan, for the good of the Church and for our personal salvation (cf. Lk 12:21b; 1 Tim 6:18). The spiritual masters remind us that in the life of faith those who do not advance inevitably regress. Dear brothers and sisters, let us accept the invitation, today as timely as ever, to aim for the "high standard of ordinary Christian living" (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 31). The wisdom of the Church in recognizing and proclaiming certain outstanding Christians as Blessed and as Saints is also meant to inspire others to imitate their virtues. Saint Paul exhorts us to "anticipate one another in showing honour" (Rom 12:10).

In a world which demands of Christians a renewed witness of love and fidelity to the Lord, may all of us feel the urgent need to anticipate one another in charity, service and good works (cf. Heb 6:10). This appeal is particularly pressing in this holy season of preparation for Easter. As I offer my prayerful good wishes for a blessed and fruitful Lenten period, I entrust all of you to the intercession of the Mary Ever Virgin and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 3 November 2011

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

Jueves, 07 Abril 2011 14:59

Holy Saturday

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"The soul must empty itself of all that is not God in order to go to God. . . For Christ, desire to enter into complete nakedness and poverty in everything." ~ St. John of the Cross s.14

"The soul must empty itself of all that is not God in order to go to God. . . For Christ, desire to enter into complete nakedness and poverty in everything." ~ St. John of the Cross

 


 

"I cannot do it alone; the waves run fast and high, and the fog closes chill around, and the light goes out in the sky. But I know that we two shall win in the end - Jesus and I. I could not steer it myself - my barque on the roaring sea - what of that? Another sits in my barque, and pulls or steers with me. And I know that we two shall come into port - His child and He. Coward, wayward and weak, I change like the changing sky - one day eager and brave, the next, not caring to try; But He never gives in, and we two shall win, Jesus and I. Strong, and tender and true, crucified once for me, I know that Jesus never will change, whatever I do or be. We shall finish our course, and get home at last - His child and He."

 


 

Jueves, 07 Abril 2011 14:55

Good Friday

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"Death cannot be bitter for the soul that loves, for in it she finds all the sweetness and delight of love. She rejoices over death as she would over the thought of her betrothal and marriage, and she longs for the day and the hour of her death." ~ St. John of the Cross s.12

"Death cannot be bitter for the soul that loves, for in it she finds all the sweetness and delight of love. She rejoices over death as she would over the thought of her betrothal and marriage, and she longs for the day and the hour of her death." ~ St. John of the Cross s.12

 


 

 

"Dear Jesus, halp me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go. Flood me with Your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may be only a radiance of Thine. Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come into contact with may feel Your presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me - but solely Thee, my Jesus."


 


Jueves, 07 Abril 2011 14:51

Holy Thursday

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As a contemplative fraternity, we seek the face of God and we serve the Church in the world or possibly in eremetical solitude.

 


 

 

"O God, You know my weaknesses, that I am poor and destitute, that I cannot do, nor even think any good without You. Arise up then; strengthen me with grace, that I may fervently execute what I have firmly resolved, and not only avoid all evil You forbid, but also perform all the good You command, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Jueves, 07 Abril 2011 14:41

Wednesday of Holy Week

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For this reason I lay down that you are to keep silence from after Compline until after Prime the next day. At other times, although you need not keep silence so strictly, be careful not to indulge in a great deal of talk. Rule 21







 




"Lord Jesus, I cry out to you in my pain and sorrow. Give me the strength to praise You in my sadness. When prayer is difficult for me, hear my heartfelt cry, Jesus, my need for You is great yet my tortured mind finds it difficult to see beyond this darkness of the soul. Be near me Lord, hear my weak cry of Jesus Mercy. Lead me from my despair into Your comforting arms, and those of Your Blessed Mother, until I can finally rest with You."



Jueves, 07 Abril 2011 14:39

Tuesday of Holy Week

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"When you walk in the dark night and in the emptiness of spiritual poverty, you will think that everyone and everything is failing you — including God. But nothing is failing you." ~ St. John of the Cross







 




"Dear Lord, I give You pride of place in my heart, my home, my school, my workplace. Let me forever place You in the centre of my thoughts, words and deeds, my relaxation time, so that with You and through You my life is lived for You. Let my life not be dictated by materialiasm, more possessions, greater fame but rather help me to keep You as my rock, my stability, my focus in all I do and say."



Jueves, 07 Abril 2011 14:36

Monday of Holy Week

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Every day, if possible, the brothers are called, from solitude and from their apostolic work, to the Eucharist - source and culmination of their lives. Carmelite Constitution - 20







 




"Lord, keep me faithful to Your ways, honest in my dealings with others, and truthful in my speech. Let me not be the instrument to harm others through gossip, even if I know it be true. Help me to 'put my house in order' so that my every word, deed and action is carried out in true honesty and complete truthfulness without hurting or taking from others. Let me never fall into the trap of 'everyone does it!' Or see dishonesty as being justified in any way. Lord forgive my dishonesty and help me to change and make amends."



Jueves, 07 Abril 2011 14:33

Palm Sunday

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"You will not arrive at what you desire by following your own path, or even by high contemplation; but only through a great humility and a surrender of the heart." ~ St. Thérèse of Lisieux s.13







 




"Sacred Heart of Jesus I place all my trust in Thee. There are times, Lord, when I feel down and lost, when it is hard to drum up faith in You, yet You never lose faith in me. I am Your precious child whom You love regardless. Help me through my periods of doubt, of despair, of loneliness, of anguish, and yes, even in my times of anger with You. When I am unable to pray, let me just whisper - 'Jesus Mercy, Mary Help' - I just need to get through this difficult period when all seems lost. Stand by me, Lord, in my despair."



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