Sunday, November 23, 2014

Consecrated Virginity; A Beautiful Witness

"Receive the ring that marks you as a bride of Christ."
This past weekend I had the privilege of being an attendant to my dear friend Enza on her Consecration day. It was a beautiful witness of faith and an experience that undoubtedly enriched the faith of those gathered. I was asked to offer a few words at her reception and felt to share them on my blog as a means of bringing further awareness and insight into this wonderful vocation.

     We have gathered to bear witness to the beauty and richness found in God’s love alone, and to celebrate this great gift to the Church. In a world that is growing increasingly secularized and over-sexualized, the Consecrated Virgin's life shines forth the truth, the joy, the fruitfulness, and the freedom to love found only through self- sacrifice and an undivided love for Christ.
    One of Enza’s strengths, among many, is her attentiveness to detail in planning. However, we can give praise to our Lord the Master Planner, for providing her with the grace to respond to His call by receiving this consecration to the Sacred Order of Virgins one week prior to the Church entering the "Year of Consecrated Life."
    In a very special way we too are blessed by witnessing such an occasion. We have prayerfully journeyed beside Enza throughout her life in various ways; as parents, as siblings, as a beloved niece, as family, as friends, as dear sisters and brothers in Christ, as fellow youth ministers, and lastly, but certainly not least, as Shepherds. 
     Though, we have been invited to share our love for Enza here tonight at this Banquet, we are called to reflect upon the Eternal Banquet of our Lord and how this vocation makes visible the incredible reality of Christ among us and His infinite love for each of us.
    Enza, “By witness alone” you already live your life in servitude to Christ and His Church through the constancy of your ‘yes’ and service to others. You move with gentle humility and are always willing to lend a hand, or attempt to grow another one if it means helping someone out! I have witnessed the stirring of Christ’s love and Our Lady’s grace within your heart as we have grown closer and I am blessed to call you my friend.
  I still recall the quiet and humble joy you had as your shared news with me about your initial days in formation; together we journeyed. I, in formation toward the Sacrament of Marriage, and you to the Consecrated life. It is through this shared journey that I came to understand how the Consecrated Virgin reflects the primacy of God and models the importance of recognizing the centrality of Christ in all things, regardless of one’s state in life. She shows to us an image of the Blessed Mother, the model of purity through Whom we are able to receive an outpouring of grace to embrace purity and the virtue of chastity.
   The Consecrated Virgin does not present us with an out of reach or rare ideal, she invites us to encounter the real presence of Christ and the depth of His fulfillment by remaining authentically open in surrender to Him.
    Your willingness to espouse Christ inspires us as the faithful to reflect further upon the providence of our Lord and also the implications of this essential relationship in our lives. St. Paul’s first Epistle to the Corinthians explains that “the virgin has time to attend to the Lord without any hindrance”(Fr. Harold Fuchs)There is an exchange of sacred undivided attention to God which manifests in the giving of love and service to others. I pray that you will carry out this service with the aid of grace that you have received today.
   May the oil in your lamp never empty, and as such my sister Enza, may you forever have an undivided and perpetual attentive love for Christ. May your witness shine forth the love of our Lord and the beauty of the Kingdom of Heaven. I pray that you continuously strive to imitate the virtues of our Blessed Mother after Whom this way of life is modelled. And May you find comfort in these closing words from St. Ambrose as you continue this journey. (CC)
    "Imitate her, my daughters. . . ![117] Let Mary's life be for you like the portrayal of virginity, for from her, as though from a mirror, is reflected the beauty of chastity and the ideal of virtue. See in her the pattern of your life, for in her, as though in a model, manifest teachings of goodness show what you should correct, what you should copy and what preserve. . . She is the image of virginity. For such was Mary that her life alone suffices for the instruction of all. . .[118] Therefore let holy Mary guide your way of life.”( Sacra Virginitas)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Peace in Plenty & in Want. By: C.C.

"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:11-13)
 St.Paul's assertiveness in his contentment and ability to be at peace in all circumstances stems from the awareness of the One to whom he most belongs. It is through this essential relationship and confident surrender to God that we can all find the 'secret' that St. Paul has learned. It is an ongoing work that requires continual trust and the renewal of faith. 
   Through this letter we are not being instructed by one to whom all was glorious and joyful. We meet St. Paul as he addresses the Christians of Philippi while imprisoned.
    From this captivity we hear the voice of true freedom and true joy found through Christ alone. We read these words today through our modern gaze and our perception of contentment is called into question. It is here our ideals can be challenged, and the boundaries of our self created prisons destructed. 
   Let us entrust ourselves entirely to our loving Father and strive to attain the peace of St. Paul by lowering ourselves in humble joyful service to God. We can do all this through him who gives us strength. To be at peace and upright of heart does not stem from only knowing prosperity; true peace and true joy is birthed in us through knowing God.  (CC)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"Let nothing trouble you" By: C.C.

"Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you. All things are passing; God never changes. Patience obtains all things. He who possesses God lacks nothing: God alone suffices" (St. Teresa of Avila)

   St. Teresa of Avila did not share these words without also empathizing with the emotion of which they are written;she identifies with each of us. 
     It is by clinging to God despite the heaviness of our burdens that we can experience comfort and consolation from our Lord. Through faith we can endure all that comes. 
    "All things are passing; God never changes"
   In order for us to find full comfort in these words we must first have some understanding of our Lord as unchanging. We must acquire a deeper sense of who God truly is and where our greatest source of stability can be found. As we come to reflect on Scripture, the lives of the Saints, and even our own lives we can recognize the truth of this statement. We may come to find that as we spent time questioning God, wondering where He was, or longing for His comfort,  He was always right there with us. 
   Arguably in the midst of our difficulties we may often lose sight of His presence and give into our anxious feelings. St. Teresa of Avila reminds us of our need to constantly stay focused on our Lord through every circumstance.
     If God never changes and we understand Him to be constant and all loving, then we must not be troubled or frightened. It is through faith that we are able to be patient through the storms of life and through the things that may burden our hearts. Let us come to recognize that we are fulfilled by God alone and that with Him present in our lives we lack nothing. May we see His unchanging love as a comfort to us in everything. (C.C.)

"Pray, Hope, and Don't Worry"- Padre Pio

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A `Bushel Of Falsehood` & A Lesson From Archbishop Lynch. By:C.C.

"The Ecumenical Council of the Vatican is only known to the world in general from reports of newspaper correspondents. These reports are generally very unreliable, many totally false, others containing a grain of truth in a bushel of falsehood, and cannot be relied upon. These reports generally came back to us in Rome, and amused and often surprised us, as each bishop received the leading newspaper of his city. A weekly Toronto journal kept me posted in the news of the day here and brought me news from Rome that I was entirely ignorant of. The secular newspapers, as a rule, were what we term in opposition." (Archbishop John Joseph Lynch-Lecture at St. Michael's Cathedral Toronto, following the first Vatican Council)

    I have chosen to revisit these words from the first Archbishop of Toronto as I see them rather fitting in regards to what we are currently experiencing throughout much of the media coverage on the current Synod taking place in Rome. 
   Due to the nature of this Synod there is much being discussed that is hitting home with many people. There is a danger however when the information that one is reading and receiving is flawed. It is important to remember as  Fr. John Zuhlsdorf  reminds us that "there is a Synod and there is a Synod of the media". 
   Through revisiting this excerpt from a lecture given by Late Archbishop John Joseph Lynch at St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto -following his return from the first Vatican Council,  I could not help but be drawn to his eloquent words about newspaper reports concerning matters of Vatican events. These words from long ago echo today and offer some insight as to how one should treat secular and politically driven media reporting today.
   It is important to unearth these words from Bishop Lynch as I find that they affirm the fallibility and error in much of what we may read, hear, and receive today.  
   The immediate accessibility of information has allowed for a large number of articles, interviews, and video footage to surface about our Pope. This rapid sharing of news carries both positive and negative elements. It is important to approach information that we receive regarding the matters of our Holy Catholic Church with great discernment and understanding of our faith. 
   Many are often inclined to cling to the `grain of truth`within the `bushel of falsehood` as a result of personal agendas and many other varying reasons.        While seeking to know more about matters concerning the faith can be leading one closer to encountering the fullness of Truth, it can also damage and alter perceptions of  this Truth if what is being absorbed is flawed.. 
    The `grain of truth` that we may cling to amidst the `bushel of falsehood` may be a reflection of our own selfish desire and our unwillingness to surrender to The Complete Truth found in the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church;Truth that is unwavering and does not bend with the opinions, views, and wants of a majority, but remains fixed and concrete as when it was proclaimed by Christ. I do not desire to judge the opinions and values of others or to determine that their sentiments or desire for `change` is wrong, I am simply at peace with what has always been and remains consistently right  and just (C.C.)

More from Archbishop Lynch...

``The secular newspaper correspondents have published that Papal Infallibility means that the Pope is like unto God, Supreme, not subject to any error, and can make truth falsehood, and falsehood truth. I need hardly say that this definition is utterly false. Another journal says that Papal Infallibility means that the Pope is impeccable — cannot err — and that all his sayings and doings are infallible; that also is false. He is subject to human weaknesses, and confesses them, like every good child of the Church, and receives absolution and penance. An other writer says that the Pope can prophesy and invent a new religion as he pleases — well, that also is false. He receives no gift of prophesy by his election to the Popedom and can invent no new dogma or religion ; he can only pronounce that such and such truth has been always in the Church, and has been revealed to the Church by the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, according to the words of Christ, " I will send you another Paraclete who will teach you ALL truth — not truth, but ALL truth.`` (Archbishop John Joseph Lynch)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Recognizing Grace. By: C.C.

     A challenge we encounter in striving toward holiness throughout our lives is the continual surrender to trust in God's goodness in the face of change and adversity.  The Saints of our Church, especially "The Little Flower", who we celebrate today models for us ways to incorporate this perpetual renewal of trust in God's loving providence by recognizing everything as grace.
   These words have always called my own lack of virtue into question as I dealt with the perceived reality of living in seemingly adverse situations, and at times failing to maintain regard for God's goodness.
     Our human condition exposes us to the reality of misfortune and suffering. There is loss and agony, there are pitfalls and shortcomings, there is adversity and tribulation. It is tempting to question and doubt the presence of God's goodness in these moments.It is by seeking Him through faith and remembering His promises to us that we can be consoled and open ourselves to recognizing the grace in everything. 
   We can praise God in all things by seeking the grace of each moment and circumstance. The numerous unmerited gifts of God that we do not earn by striving toward greatness, but receive through humble and lowly service to Christ provide all that we need.
  Our challenges and difficulties are filled with God's transforming grace. He does not cease to be present as we are never absent from His gaze, or from His love. Though we may often lose sight of His sight upon us we must faithfully and prayerfully endure everything that comes and rest trustingly in the presence of His loving grace. (CC) 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Discerning The Call to Love by: C.C.

“A man knows when he has found his vocation when he stops thinking about how to live and begins to live.” (Thomas Merton)
     To consider vocation one must first have the understanding that they have been created uniquely by our Lord for a purpose. There is a hunger today for advancements and for settling into many things that society deems to be definitive of what a  'successful person' is.      It is alluring and tempting to tread through life in pursuit of success, rather than genuine and authentic fulfillment that can only be experienced by the giving of one's control into the hands of a loving God. 
   Through faith and trust in God one can have a clearer sense of vocation and to where God is leading them. It is a surrender of self that brings forth the fulfillment of self in the way that God intended. One's vocation is rooted in the love of God and pursuing the path that enables them to live out this love in the most genuine and selfless way.  
   Discerning vocation can be rather daunting.There are many things that can travel through one's mind and heart as they seek to fulfill the plans that God has for them. Many can be so wrapped up in the persistent search for God's will that they actually miss the very important point of fully resting in Him and allowing His will to patiently unfold. The pursuit of God's will is above all a surrender of patience and trust.
  We do not chase, but cease our running and recognize that we have been sought after by a loving God who knows well the deepest desire of our heart. Trusting God is to trust His plans and to be assured that His providence will sustain us by providing the grace to live out the vocation to which we have been called. 
  Through faithful trust in God and the daily commitment to living out the call to love in our present circumstances, we can be lovingly led by the Holy Spirit to where we serve Christ best through our service in love toward others. - CC

    "In a society in which permanent commitments are not valued - and that applies to the priesthood and religious life as well as to marriage - it can take great spiritual strength, and is certainly counter-cultural, to renew each day a sacred lifelong commitment, trusting in the grace of God. That must be our path as Christians, and anything that tends (even unintentionally) to re-inforce a culture that undermines fidelity to sacred permanent commitments must be resisted" (Cardinal Collins)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Abandonment and Trust In God. By: C.C.

"Abandoning ourselves to God means renouncing your own plans and visions, leaving everything behind so that you can devote yourself totally to the Lord.  We are so full of our own plans and our own visions while God's will and God's plans are often different. Then God must frustrate our plans. However, the frustration of our plans is a blessing because they are being frustrated by the love that always wants what is good for us." ( Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer)
   Having faith in God is not limited to solely believing in His existence. We are constantly presented with opportunities to affirm our faith throughout life's moments by our cooperation and obedience to God through responding to the challenges that place our faith into question.
   Our faith in God pours into every avenue of our lives and into the most ordinary temporal things that we are faced with. To abandon ourselves to Him is to faithfully trust that God's plan and His vision for us exceeds what we can plot or fathom for ourselves.
    To have faith in God is to willingly cooperate with His grace in our lives and to endure with hope during moments of great difficulty. Tribulation is inevitable. Moments of struggle and trial can become filled with great meaning and recognized as grace if we renounce ourselves and our own will to that of our Lord.           
     How often we desire things for ourselves that we believe will lead us to great joy. How many times we map out our own idealistic timeline for things to happen and our lives to unfold according to our own vision. Our desire and our drive for success and happiness is a very healthy and good thing. To have great regard for our own well being is not something that is upsetting to God, however we are invited to place our complete trust and reliance upon our Lord who lovingly "always wants what is good for us". 
  When we become over confident in our own designs and feel as if we are in control of it all we will eventually experience the "frustration of our plans". These frustrations are indeed a blessing as Fr. Dajzcer reminds us, even if we do not recognize this in the moments of upset.        Our Lord well knows the desires of our heart and has placed them there for a purpose. Trusting in Him allows us to recognize that this purpose unfolds in God's time and only then will our desires be fulfilled in their proper place in accordance to what is best for us. (CC)