Thursday, May 31, 2012

Risen to Renew — Pentecost Sunday, May 27, 2012 (Eighth Week of “Ordinary Time”)

At Mass, always read the Responsorial verse first: it gives a key to the readings. It tells us what the bishops saw in the first reading that made them choose it as a “match” for the Gospel.
For Pentecost Sunday it is: Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth. The theme of the Mass readings is renewal — the confidence of hope based on faith that God is transforming society, correcting cultural assumptions, reforming social structures. Establishing the reign of God on earth.
But he is doing it through us — Christ’s risen body, empowered by the Holy Spirit poured out into every Christian heart. If we are “renewing the face of the earth,” it is because we are in touch with the Spirit in us. If we are not changing anything, we need to establish contact with the Holy Spirit. How do we do that?
The first step, as always, is just to believe. Believe Jesus was speaking to every baptized person when he said, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you... Receive the Holy Spirit.” We need to believe in, accept, and dedicate ourselves to our mission.
Our mission is determined by where we are. “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues.” And people “gathered together from every nation under heaven... all heard them speaking in their own language.” That is the key to the “lay apostolate.” The laity are everywhere; in every event of family and social life; in every business and occupation. And whatever they are a part of, they can “speak the language” of those who are there. But only if they are “filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Paul’s letter says all of us have the Spirit, but in different, particular ways: “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; different forms of service... But to each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” We just have to identify our gifts, the way the Spirit can act through us. Act where we are through what we are, both by nature and by grace.
How can we know how God wants to use us?
The first step is obvious: We ask. Every morning, say the prayer:

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful,

and enkindle in us the fire of your divine love.

Send forth your Spirit, Lord, and our hearts will be regenerated.

And you will renew the face of the earth!

Lord, by the light of the Holy Spirit you instruct the hearts of your faithful. Grant us by the same Holy Spirit always to do what is right and just, and always to rejoice in his consolations, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Jesus promised: “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.” Throughout the day, pay attention to your feelings. The Spirit usually speaks by increasing or diminishing our peace.
Any comments? Share them with us through the COMMENTS link.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Who Is On The Other End Of The Yoke? — Easter Week Seven, May 20 to 26, 2012

To live the risen life is not to “imitate Christ.” It is to be Christ and act as Jesus himself in everything we do.

This can be daunting. But it isn’t if we let Jesus act with us, in us and through us, keeping ourselves conscious of his presence by saying the WIT prayer all day long: “Lord, do this with me, do this in me, do this through me.” What makes his “burden light” is that Jesus carries it with us. His “yoke is easy” because it joins us to him. To shift the image, to let Jesus act with us, in us and through us all day is to be “joined to Jesus at the hip.”

But we have to know him. We need to know this person who is our yokemate, our partner, who co-carries our burdens and “co-operates” with us, in us and through us in all we say and do. We don’t appreciate having Jesus as a “friend by our side” if we don’t know him as a friend. And the key to this is knowing how he thinks.

How can we know that? Jesus is God. The Father himself said, speaking through Isaiah, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” And Jesus said, “No one knows the Father but the Son.” To know God as he is, you have to be God.

But Jesus added: “...and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Jesus has revealed the Father to us by sharing his own divine life with us, including his own divine act of knowing the Father (we call this the “gift of faith,” the gift of divine enlightenmemt).

And when Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father,” Jesus answered, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’”? The Father is revealed in the words and actions of Jesus. The divine is made visible in the human.

Jesus went on to say, “I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.”

That is the key. Jesus has made known to us the thoughts of God; his own thoughts and the thoughts of his Father. We can find them written in his words. All we have to do is read them.

And when we do, the Holy Spirit will help us understand them. Jesus promised it. “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.” The Trinity of God himself, Father, Son and Spirit, will work together to let us know and understand the thoughts of God if we read his words.

Then we will know the true personality of the “friend by our side.” We will know Jesus, not as his servants, but as his friends. If we choose to read his words.

That is the next step into living the risen life. Do we choose to read the words of God?

Any comments? Share them with us through the COMMENTS link.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Hesitant Step? — Easter Week Six, May 13 to May 19, 2012

Did you use the WIT prayer (see last week)? If you did, you had the mystical experience of growing in conscious awareness of the mystery of your lived union with God, the mystery of the “risen life.”

I have only heard one objection to using this prayer. A man in Tupelo, Mississippi, raised it during a parish mission: “If I say all day, ‘Lord, do this with me, do this in me, do this through me,’ I am laying it on myself to act like Jesus all day long.” He added: “That’s a pretty heavy load to carry.” And it seems to be.

On the other hand, this is exactly what Jesus accused the Pharisees of doing by insisting on their strict observance of all the Jewish laws: “They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.”

Of himself and his Way Jesus said: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

We can’t deny Jesus asks some pretty demanding things. But his “yoke is easy” because he is carrying it with us. That makes all the difference in the world.

We are the risen body of Jesus. Whatever he asks us to do, he will to do it with us, in us and through us. He promised before his death, “I will not leave you orphaned.” Or, in other translations, “I will not let you be without a friend; I will not leave you desolate or comfortless. I will come to you.” He will come with his Spirit:

“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.”

To live constantly in awareness that Jesus is with us, filling us with his Spirit, acting with us, in us and through us in everything he asks or moves or challenges us to do, this makes all burdens light. His “yoke is easy” because he is carrying most of it.

We are talking about a mystical experience! Without the experience, the conscious awareness, of doing everything with Christ, living “in him” as a branch on the vine, as a limb of his body, and acting always through the power given by him, of course the Christian Way is impossible. It has to be a mystical experience.

Those who reduce it to law observance, who focus only on keeping the law in their own lives and in the way they preach to others, are a death virus in the Church. Those who experience only the burden of the Church’s laws, and the coldness of those who insist upon them, are leaving the Church. Or, if they remain, they are living with so little love, joy and peace that they drive others to leave.

Try the WIT prayer. Whatever you find difficult, say, “Lord, to this with me, do this in me, do this through me.”

And share the results with us in the COMMENTS link.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The First Step — Easter Week Five, May 6 to May 12, 2012

Have you “begun to begin” a life of planned, intentional spiritual growth? Did you take a minute to make up one “play” that you think is giving, or will give you, “forward motion” toward total knowledge and love of God?
What “play” would I suggest? This is a “first step” idea. It may look like a baby step. At least it is easy.
Say the WIT prayer all day long. Before you open your eyes in the morning, say, “Lord, I give you my body, as I did at Baptism. Live this day with me, live this day in me, live this day through me.”
That is the WIT prayer: W-ith, I-n, T-hrough.
If you like, you can add: “Let me think with your thoughts, speak with your words, and act as your body on earth.”
Keep saying it. Form the habit of saying the WIT prayer before everything you do, all day long, “Lord, do this with me, do this in me, do this through me.” Every time you go through a door, pick up a telephone, sit down at your desk or get up from it. Every time you put on your coat or start your car. Work at forming the habit. Use “gimmicks” to remind you until it is something you do automatically. Put a handkerchief on your doorknob or telephone. Program your watch to beep every hour. Make it your password. Attach a cross to your car keys. Do whatever works for you.
Say the WIT prayer all day long until it is embedded in your mind; until it is your underlying awareness in everything you do.
There it is: the resurrection. Jesus risen and continuing to live his life on earth in you. You risen with Christ and living now in a way that is both human and divine in everything you do, because by Baptism you have “become Christ.” If you keep saying this prayer you will grow into awareness of the mystery of your life, your true identity. You will say with St. Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” And you will become more constantly aware of the true mystery of your identity, the mystery of your existence, the mystery of your life as one who has received through Baptism the divine life of God.
This is — although the words may sound strange to you — an ongoing mystical experience.
And it is the first step to make if you want to grow into the “fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of love.” 
The ball is in your court. You can hit it back or just stand there and watch it go by. But if you are reading this, my guess is you will take a swipe at it.
Share the results with us. Tell us what you use to remind you to say the WIT prayer and how it has helped you.  Use the COMMENTS link below. We’re all in this together.