Spirituality Matters 2017: September 7th - September 13th
(September 7, 2017: Thursday, Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time)
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“Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord…”
In a letter to Madame de la Flechere, Francis de Sales wrote:
“Don’t be examining yourself to see if what you are doing is a little or much, good or bad, provided that it is not sinful and that – in all good faith – you are trying to do it for God. As much as possible, do well what you have to do, and once it is done, think no more about it but turn your attention to what has to be done next. Walk very simply along the way our Lord shows you and don’t worry. We must hate our faults, but we should do so calmly and peacefully, without fuss or anxiety…” (Letters of Spiritual Direction, p. 161)
To walk in a manner worthy of the Lord – to follow Christ and to “Live + Jesus” – is a daunting task. But what makes it more doable – and enjoyable – is to walk in the Lord’s ways calmly and peacefully, without fuss or anxiety.
Godspeed during your walk today!
(September 8, 2017: Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
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“We know that all things work for good for those who love God…”
When Joachim and Ann welcomed their daughter Mary into the world, who could have known – or imagined – that she was destined to become the mother of the Messiah? Who could have thought that this simple, poor and unassuming woman would be the vehicle through whom God would fulfill his promise of salvation? Who could have anticipated that her simple “yes” as the handmaid of the Lord would change the course of the world forever?
How about you? Who could have thought that God would bring you out of nothingness in order that you might experience the beauty of being someone? Who would have imagined that God would use your ordinary, everyday life to continue his ongoing creative, redemptive and inspiring action? Who could have known that your attempts to say “yes” to God’s will on a daily basis – however imperfectly – could change other peoples’ lives for the better?
God did! God does! And God will continue to do!
(September 9, 2017: Peter Claver - Priest)
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“God has now reconciled you…”
In a letter to Sr. Anne-Marie Rosset, Assistant and Novice Mistress at Dijon, St. Jane de Chantal wrote:
“God knows the pain I feel in my heart over the misunderstanding that exists in your house. I ask the Lord to take it in hand. In the end, if a reconciliation doesn’t occur, you will have to find a way of sending away the sister who is the cause of it all. No good ever comes from the sisters wanting to control the superior; if they were humble and submissive, all would go well. Indeed, my very dear Sister, the one who governs there has done so very successfully elsewhere, and this ought to keep the sisters in peace. Help them to understand this as far as you can so that there may be humble and cordial submission in the house. Help the sister in question to unite herself to her superior and to be sincerely open with her. Oh, is this the behavior the way to honor the memory of him who so often recommended peace to us and union? What a dangerous temptation! May God, in His goodness, straighten this out! And we shall do what we can – with God’s help – to remedy the situation.” (LSD, p. 247)
Every family – every community – every organization or group – has its share of difficulties and divisions, and as this letter clearly shows, even cloistered, contemplative women. But note some of the ingredients that St. Jane identifies as critical in any attempts to bring about resolution and reconciliation. These include:
- Being humble
- Being submissive
- Being peaceful/peaceable
- Being understanding
- Being sincere
- Being open
- Being willing to ask for God’s help
Why wait for tomorrow to pursue a path toward reconciliation that you could begin today…with God’s help?
(September 10, 2017: Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time)
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“Owe no debt to anyone except the debt that binds us to love one another.”
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines debt as “something owed, such as money, goods or services; an obligation or liability to pay or render something to someone else”. The reader is then encouraged to see ghabh in the index of Indo-European Roots: “Important derivatives are: give, forgive, gift, able…duty and endeavor.”
Life is full of debt, obligations and things that we owe to others in a spirit of duty. Some of the things that we owe to others include: tuition, taxes, credit card debt, utility bills, work for our wages, insurance, health care costs…and the list goes on and one.
On another level, although less obvious, there is a whole host of other things that are even more important that we must render to others in a spirit of generosity: time, talent, respect, reverence, fidelity, honesty, care, concern, consideration, kindness, patience, justice, peace, reconciliation…and this list also goes on and on.
If we stop to collectively consider the list of all the things that we owe to others, it can be more than a little overwhelming. Perhaps it is best to summarize it as does St. Paul when he advises us to “owe no debt to anyone except the debt that binds us to love one another”. The debt of love – the bond of love – is not only the most important obligation that we owe to one another, but it also includes all the other things, virtues and actions that we owe to others…that we must render to others.
In a letter to St. Jane de Chantal, St. Francis de Sales wrote:
“I must tell you that I have never understood that there was any bond between us carrying with it any obligation but that of divine love and true Christian friendship, what St. Paul calls the ‘bond of perfection,’ and truly that is what it truly is, for it is indissoluble and never weakens. All other bonds are temporal…but the bond of love grows and gets stronger every time. It cannot be cut down by death, which, like a scythe, mows down everything but charity…So this is our bond, these our own chains which, the more they are tightened and press against us, the more they bring us joy and freedom…nothing is more pliable than that; nothing, stronger.” (Letters of Spiritual Direction, page 127)
Our lives are filled with debts and obligations that we owe to one another. In the midst of our daily attempts to meet these obligations, may God give us the grace to remember and pursue the debt that really matters: the bond of love and the obligations – and opportunities – that come with it.
(September 11, 2017: Monday, Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time)
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“For this I labor and struggle, in accord with the exercise of his power working within me…”
In his Treatise on the Love of God, Francis de Sales wrote:
“God acts in our works, and we co-operate in God’s action. God leaves for our part all the merit and profit of our services and good works; we leave God all the honor and praise thereof, acknowledging that the growth, the progress, and the end of all the good we do depend on God’s mercy, finishing what God had begun. O God, how merciful is God’s goodness to us in thus distributing his bounty!” (TLG, Book XI, Chapter 6, p. 212)
It would be enough if God simply made us the recipients of his mercy and generosity, but in his wisdom, God has also made us the agents or instruments of his mercy and generosity. Our common vocation is not limited to enjoying the gift of creation. We are also called to nurture it, care for it, shepherd it and grow it! God works in and through us and we work in and through God’s action.
To us come all of the benefits. To God goes all of the glory.
We are – in word and in deed – God’s co-workers. We celebrate both God’s generosity to ourselves and share that generosity with others.
Just today, how might God employ our cooperation in both receiving and sharing his bounty?
(September 12, 2017: Holy Name of Mary)
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“When day came, he called his disciples to himself…”
“The Feast of the Holy Name of Mary, or simply the Holy Name of Mary, is a feast day in the Roman Catholic Church celebrated on 12 September to honor the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It has been a universal Roman Rite feast since 1684, when Pope Innocent XI included it in the General Roman Calendar to commemorate the victory at the Battle of Vienna in 1683.”
“The feast day began in 1513 as a local celebration in Cuenca, Spain, celebrated on 15 September. In 1587 Pope Sixtus V moved the celebration to 17 September. In 1622 Pope Gregory XV extended the celebration to the Archdiocese of Toledo and it was subsequently extended to the entire Kingdom of Spain in 1671. The feast was removed from the General Roman Calendar in 1969, as it was seen as something of a duplication of the 8 September feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 2002, Pope John Paul II restored the celebration to the General Roman Calendar.” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Name_of_Mary )
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells calls his disciples–those called to accompany and follow him – by name. Mary is unique, insofar as she became a disciple by accepting the invitation extended to her by God – by name – to become the mother of the Messiah.
Each of us is called by name to be disciples of Jesus Christ – by giving birth to him in ourselves and following his example – in ways that fit the unique state and stage of life in which we find ourselves. How might we call others to join us?
(September 13, 2017: Wednesday, Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time)
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“Think of what is above…”
What does it look like when we are thinking of what is “above”? Look no further than today’s Gospel from Luke (and/or the variant found in Matthew 5:3-11):
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for the Kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you who are now hungry,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who are now weeping,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they exclude and insult you,
and denounce your name as evil
on account of the Son of Man.”
Thinking of what is “above” is best displayed in how we treat others – how we treat ourselves – here below on this earth. In other words, when we “think of what is above” is must be translated into how we act here below in this world.