If You Want Peace in This Life by Fr. Bruno Lanteri

Bruno LanteriFather Bruno Lanteri was the founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, the order that Fr. Timothy Gallagher, O.M.V. belongs to. One of the charisms of this order is fostering conversion to God through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Fr. Gallagher has recently written a biography of the life of Fr. Lanteri entitled, “Begin Again.” The following is an excerpt of spiritual direction given by Fr. Lanteri to Clementina Celebrini in 1817:

“Forgive me if I have not replied earlier to your letter, since I could not. I have done what you asked and you need not be anxious. You would like to live already in heaven where happy events are not followed by trials but you must be patient since you must still remain here on earth and suffer with patience the trials necessary to enter heaven.

“If you want peace in this life, you must, first of all, decide to accommodate yourself to  circumstances and not demand that circumstances accommodate themselves to you. You must, secondly, strive to practice uniformity of your will with God’s. It is he who disposes everything, arranges everything, and permits all that takes place. We need only seek and follow his fatherly design, which is always to provide us opportunities for practicing different virtues, at times one, at times another, so that he will have something for which to reward us.

“I have noticed in your letters that you often turn in on yourself. Try to watch for this and to focus less on yourself, but to serve God with great simplicity. Instead of turning in on yourself, lift your gaze often with peace and love to God, to his lovable will, to his adorable providence. Tell him that, regardless of whether you are good or bad, you want to be totally his and that it is his to make you become better. Cast also upon him all your concerns about your children and your husband. The more you trust him, the greater will be his care for you.”

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The Courage To Rejoice by Pope Benedict

rejoice-1“The loss of joy does not make the world better—and, conversely, refusing joy for the sake of suffering does not help those who suffer. The contrary is true. The world needs people who discover the good, who rejoice in it and thereby derive the courage and impetus to do good.

“We have a new need for the primordial trust which ultimately faith can give. That the world is basically good, that God is there and is good too. That it is good to live and be a human being. This results, then, in the courage to rejoice, which in turn becomes commitment to making sure that other people too can rejoice and receive good news.” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in Salt of the Earth pp 36-37

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St. John of the Cross and the Night of the Senses

touristby Fr. Iain Matthew O.C.D.

“The trouble is our culture has a mesmeric fascination in keeping moving–there is no where so urgent as an airport. Our fascination is moving, and growing fear of having to stop. It takes courage to stay with it: not to move on when I do not like it anymore but, instead, to stay with it and let what is no longer novel disclose its unsuspected depth.

St. John of the Cross tells us, ‘Say no to your desires and you will discover what your heart really desires. What makes you think your longings are God’s longings?’

“To live on likes and dislikes–gusto, apetito, gratification, affective drive–keeps one a tourist, doing more and more, experiencing less and less.  This is to live on the level of ‘sense’. It refers not so much to the sensory–the body, the emotions–as to the person who is hostage to his or her own needs. And the sensory side of the person can symbolize that: body and emotions are a rich blessing when they are in place, but they tend to turn imperialist and extend dominion over the whole person, making us ‘sensual’. Sensual man is the person enslaved to each next moment.

“If, however, a person chooses not to fill the hole with one more sensation, not to flit to another relationship or different project, but to see this one through, life can transfer on to a new level. St. John calls it ‘spirit’.

“At first it can feel like starving. John tells of a language, taste, texture, freedom, peace, life which is yet to be discovered and which we cannot know until it is discovered. He assures us that, ‘To come to know what you know not, you have to go by a way that you know not.’ Not filling the gap inside of us with another novelty can feel like we’re starving, but it allows the genuinely new to be disclosed. It allows one to live, not as a consumer among objects, but as a person among persons: Fit for communion, for the love, which can hold the other, and be held, on open palms. Not grasped.

“That is the level of spirit: availability as a person for communion; the space for the gift of the Other. This is more than just a rearrangement of the pieces.”

Source: http://tinyurl.com/o8acqv9

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How Can Crucifixion Be a Triumph?

How Can Crucifixion Be a Triumph?

I have a wonderful Catholic friend who refuses to pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. She says it is too depressing, so she just skips them.

Turning away from the pain of others is tempting. Who doesn’t have enough pain their lives? In this time of roiling turmoil, who wants to meditate on the Crucified Christ every week?

Our lives are already full of emotional, financial, political and interpersonal pain, so it seems masochistic to think of voluntarily looking at the stark pain of a dying God-Man.  Instead every citizen of this country seems intent on avoidance of pain through  the Endless Entertainment offered to us constantly via online games and social networks and porn and shopping and sports and Spotify and the list goes on and on.

While we know that Jesus is our Savior, we echo St. Augustine’s desire to be saved from ourselves but just not yet.

When we decide to put our relationship with the Holy Trinity on the back burner and our enjoyment of Endless Entertainment on the front burner of our lives each day, we end up losing our lives by attempting to save them. This world, our fles,h and the devil lull us into believing that our time and our lives are our own and what we do with them isn’t anyone else’s business. Eventually, we entirely forget that we’ve been “bought at a great price” as Scripture reminds us.

In attempting to save our lives, our time, our treasure for ourselves, we end up empty. The new cool car becomes old, the new hook-up in bed becomes the same as the last, and, with a roomful of clothes, we still can’t find anything to wear.

Enter Dismas. The saint who realized as he hung dying that if he was going to hold onto his rapidly waning life, he was going to have to lose it. Sinner that he was, he wasn’t too proud to turn to the man dying on the cross next to him and say simply, “Remember me.”

While the third crucified man that day chose to cling to his bitterness, disgust, and rage, Dismas won eternal happiness by letting go of his preoccupation with his own miseries and uniting himself with the Man “who had done nothing wrong.” Like any true love, this union of Dismas with Jesus yielded good fruit. The fruit of heavenly life was born from the tree of death.

On October 12, 2011, Pope Emeritus Benedict said that “We are always attentive to problems and difficulties but there is almost an unwillingness to perceive the beautiful things that come into our lives from the Lord.” 

The most beautiful thing that comes from the Lord is the Cross. It is beautiful to Him because it unites Him with us, which is what He longs for.

During the rest of this Year of Faith, let’s put aside our “unwillingness” which manifests itself in our addictions to entertainment, our devotion to our miseries and our wounded pride and set aside time everyday to simply look at Jesus on the Cross and whisper “Remember me.” Then He will tell us the same thing He told Dismas, “Today you will be with Me in paradise.”  Now that’s a Triumph!

Copyright © 2013, Glenna Bradshaw

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Your Fragrant Breathing Stills Me

john of the crossSince today (September 12) is the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary and since one of today’s readings is Blessed Mother’s Magnificat, I was reminded of The Living Flame of Love which has been called the “Magnificat of St. John of the Cross.”  Like Mary’s song of love when she met Elizabeth, John’s song of love lifts me every time I read it. Like Mary’s song, John’s song emphasizes the impact of God; the fact that our job, in the end, is to make space for the Holy Spirit who is constantly waiting, hovering, impending and imploding our set little worlds.

Living Flame
Flame, alive, compelling,
Yet tender past all telling,
Reaching the secret center of my soul!
Since now evasion’s over,
finish your work, my Lover,
break the last thread, wound me and make me whole!

Burn that is for my healing,
Wound of delight past feeling!
Ah, gentle hand whose touch is a caress,
Foretaste of heaven conveying
And every debt repaying:
Slaying, you give me life for death’s distress.

Oh lamps of fire bright-burning
with splendid brilliance turning
deep caverns of my soul to pools of light!
Once shadowed, dim, unknowing,
now their strange new-found glowing
gives warmth and radiance for my Love’s delight.

Ah, gentle and so loving
you wake within me, proving
that you are there in secret and alone:
Your fragrant breathing stills me,
Your grace, your glory fills me
so tenderly, your love becomes my own.

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The Restlessness of Love

father-of-the-prodigalOn August 28, 2013, Pope Francis spoke with  Augustinian priests on the occasion of the opening of their General Chapter meeting in Rome. Here is the end of his homily which speaks eloquently of the restlessness that every follower of Christ should experience. This is the ‘restlessness of love’ that drives our Holy Father.

” Restless woman, this woman (St. Monica), who, in the end, says those beautiful words: cumulatius hoc mihi Deus praestitit! [my God has satisfied me sufficiently]. That for which she cried for, God gave it to him abundantly! And Augustine is heir to Monica, from her he receives the seed of restlessness. Here, then, the restlessness of love: always seeking, without stopping, the good of the other, of a loved one, of the one I’m responsible for, with that intensity that leads to tears. I am reminded of Jesus who weeps before the tomb of his friend, Lazarus. Peter, who, after denying Jesus, meets the rich gaze of mercy and of love and weeps bitterly. The father who awaits on the terrace for his son and when he is still far, runs to meet him; I am reminded of the Virgin Mary who with love follows Her Son Jesus to the Cross.

“How are we with the restlessness of love? Do we believe in the love of God and towards others? Or are we nominalists on this? Not in an abstract way, not only in words, but the real brother that we meet, the brother who is next to us! Do we let ourselves be restless for their needs or do we remain closed in ourselves, in our community that many times for us is a “comunita-comodita” [community-comfort]? There are times where you can live in an apartment without knowing who lives next door; or one can be in a community, without truly knowing his own brother: with pain I think of those who are consecrated that are not fertile, that are “zitelloni” [elderly bachelors]. The restlessness of love urges us always to go meet the other, without waiting for the other to show his need. The restlessness of love gives us the gift of pastoral fruitfulness, and we should ask ourselves, every one of us: how is my spiritual fruitfulness going, my pastoral fruitfulness?

“Let us ask the Lord for you, dear Augustinians, who begin the General Chapter, and for all of us, that he may preserve in our heart the spiritual restlessness to search for Him always, the restlessness to announce with courage, the restlessness of love towards every brother and sister. So be it.”


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Foolish Virgins by St. John of the Cross

foolish virgins“Many want to be favorites of their confessors and thus they are consumed by a thousand envies and disquietudes. Embarrassment forbids them from relating their sins clearly, lest their reputation diminish in their confessor’s eyes. They confess their sins in the most favorable light so they appear better than they actually are, and thus they approach the confessional to excuse themselves rather than to accuse themselves. Sometimes they confess the evil things they do to a different confessor so that their own confessor might think they commit no sins at all.

“Therefore, in their desire to appear holy, they enjoy relating their good behavior to their confessor and in such careful terms that these good deeds appear greater than they really are. It would be more humble of them to make light of the good they do and to wish that no one, neither their confessor or anyone else consider it of any importance at all.

“Sometimes they minimize their faults and at other times, they become discouraged by  them, since they felt they were already saints, and then they become impatient and angry with themselves, which is yet another fault. They are often extremely anxious that God remove their faults and imperfections, but their motive is personal peace rather than God. They fail to realize that, were God to remove their faults, they might very well become more proud and presumptuous.

“They dislike praising anyone else but they love to receive praise and sometimes they even seek it. In this way, they resemble the Foolish Virgins who had to seek oil from others when their own lamps were extinguished…

“Souls, however, who are advancing in perfection act in an entirely different manner and with a different quality of spirit during this period. They receive great benefit from their humility by which they not only place little importance on their deeds but also take very little self-satisfaction from them.”

Magnificat, Vol. 15, No. 6

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